Dining on a Budget (Night) - Where do our Pollies Eat and Drink?

Nic Crowther
Wed 20 May

While the residents of Canberra run home from work to watch the Budget Speech in their favourite trackies while slumped on the couch, the bars and restaurants of the National Capital will be filled to the brim with pollies, staffers, journos and lobbyists all ready to enjoy a night out on entitlements or the corporate credit card.

Canberra is the only city of it’s size that has less accommodation available on a Tuesday than it does on the weekend – and that’s not just during Budget Week.

Fortunately, there is now a wonderful selection of outlets that will be fully booked tonight. Here is just a taste of what will be the focus of much wining-and-dining this evening.


China Plate
Kennedy Street, Kingston.

China Plate

It used to be that Portia’s Place (right next door!) was the Chinese restaurant of choice for Federal politicians on sitting weeks. Now, thanks to the near constant presence of Clive Palmer at this basic (though delicious) establishment, it’s very much the new ‘place to be’.

Best dish: The Wasabi Beef


The Wild Duck
Giles Street, Kingston.

A favourite of Malcolm Turnbull, this is a favourite of Cabinet ministers thanks to its private dining room. Local Canberrans often get a glimpse of the celebrated republican slipping behind the sliding door after the short stroll from his waterside penthouse.

Best Dish: Wild Mushroom Duck Breast


QT Lounge
QT Hotel, NewActon.

This one is invitation-only, so if you’re a third-year political science devotee, you’ll have to hang out in the foyer to catch a glimpse of your favourite policy maker. On Budget Night, the QT Lounge throws on a little soiree for its exclusive guest-list, with complimenraty drinks and nibbles for those lucky enough to be able to access the amazing top floor with its stunning view over Canberra. 

Best Dish: Who’s to know?


Kennedy Room
Kennedy Street, Kingston.

Public Bar
Franklin Street, Manuka.

Once dinner is done, where to next? For the last seven years the undisputed king of budget night boozing has been Kennedy Room. With a large bar area and a dancefloor, it’s the perfect place to throw down a few drinks and let your hair down.

In the last 12 months, Public has been the Wednesday night favourite of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. We expect a lot of text messaging around 11.00pm as the masses converge on the Inner South.

Best Dish: Who cares? Make it cold and wet.