Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Parkes sanger search (or portrait of a sub mission)

Late last week work took me to Old Parliament House. I was there for longer than planned and by 12:30 it was time to address an ongoing Canberra challenge - where do you score a reasonable sandwich and a cold beer for lunch in Parkes?

Cafe in the House was out - I’ve eaten there once before but wasn’t in the mood for bits of gristle held together by brown wallpaper glue posing as a roast meat and gravy roll.

There’s no air conditioning at the relatively new Pork Barrel and with the mercury hovering around 40 degrees, climate control was critical. As was a beer, so Questacon missed the cut despite their very tasty hamburgers and steak sandwiches.

Against my better judgment I checked out Bookplate at the NLA but, as usual after 12pm, the sandwiches had sold out (and despite having a enclosed space at the back of the room sometimes referred to as a kitchen, there’s no chance of getting one freshly made).

The solution came via the unexpected agency of John Howard. Before voters eventually confirmed he had become the electoral equivalent of ratsak, the rodent flung close to $88 million up against the wall to construct the National Portrait Gallery.

The gallery itself has a slightly whacked, almost municipal feel - as though the town clerk and the local eco-friendly architect (you know the one, the bloke with the ear ring who’s really into energy efficiency) re-designed the Dalby School of Arts hall over a long counter lunch at the Imperial.

The silver lining is the gallery’s Portrait Cafe (admittedly not the most original of names), which was well stocked with ham and salad sangers along with a handful of bottled ales, even at the ridiculously late hour of 1pm. At this point, unencumbered by entries in the SMH Good Food Guide or Miettas the caff seems happy enough to provide good practical service to hungry patrons. Let’s hope it continues.

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