Two Blind Mice is a new bar and restaurant at Curtin shops, started by two mates who wanted to provide a suburban alternative to a night out in the city.
I took two of my own mates who live nearby to try out their new local. We arrived early and the place was already packed, so we popped our names on a wait list, ordered a drink at the bar, and happily waited on the park benches, sipping our Capital Brewing beers in the sunshine.
It took only about 20 minutes for a table to free up, by which time we were just about ready to order.
The menu features nibbles and pizzas – served all day – and a lunch and dinner section with large and small plates. One of my friends at the table is vegetarian and was impressed by her choices on the menu. I also noted plenty of gluten or dairy-free options and several dishes that can be made vegan on request.
The wood-fired pizza oven was the first thing that caught my eye when I walked inside, so I knew we had to have some pizza. There’s a couple of traditional pizzas as well as a few creative flavours. We settled on the Mixed Mushroom and the Prawn and Nduja pizzas. Nduja is a spicy, soft pork salami from southern Italy, and it’s a favourite of mine.
The pizzas are delicious. Thin base, with a good chewy crust, and nicely charred but not burnt underneath. There’s plenty of toppings on each slice but they’re not overloaded and keep their structural integrity: a fine balance to pull off but one that the Two Blind Mice chefs have achieved.
With three different kinds of mushroom and two different cheeses, the mushroom pizza has heaps of flavour and texture. The prawn and nduja is spicy when you take a bite of pork, but the mozzarella and pesto counteract the heat nicely. They’re not stingy with the prawns either! I went back for just one (or two) more slices long after I was full.
We also picked a couple of small plates and the Gnocchi Napoletana. The gnocchi itself is soft and light but the dish feels a little meh, especially when compared to the creativity of the other meals.
The Fried Cauliflower Salad is perfectly balanced with a generous dollop of tangy labne (a Middle Eastern yoghurt-based cheese) cutting through the rich cauliflower. Crunchy spiced nuts keep things texturally interesting and add a little kick.
The Smoked Eggplant may just have been my favourite dish of the night. Big pieces of perfectly creamy eggplant sit on delicious hummus with an almond and raisin topping. It’s exactly the kind of food I love to eat, where great ingredients are given centre stage and allowed to shine.
The drinks list is a good length: plenty of options but not overwhelming. We started with beers and had some cocktails later on.
The European vibes of Two Blind Mice definitely lend themselves well to a shared bottle of wine and I’ve already picked the handmade pasta I’d like to try next time. I can imagine the booths or couch seats indoors would be a very cozy place to spend an evening.
We were too greedy with the number of dishes we ordered and, although we finished everything between the three of us, we left absolutely no space for dessert. All the more reason to come back another time and practise a little self control!
Even though the place was packed with people, our food was served pretty quickly and everything seemed to be running fairly smoothly: no small feat for a new business!
We noticed some people who arrived after us waited longer for a table, so it’s definitely worth booking ahead or arriving early.
Like many businesses at the moment they are also dealing with staff shortages, so remember to be patient if things do take some time.
Once we finished the meal we vacated our table for the next hungry punter and took their spot on a park bench to finish our drinks and indulge in a little people-watching. I’ve rarely had cause to visit Curtin shops in the evenings but my friends are local and were excited to see so much life in the usually quiet square.
With the great food and humming atmosphere of Two Blind Mice, people around Canberra might find themselves heading to Curtin instead of the city a little more often, and Curtin residents may never leave the suburb again!
Two Blind Mice is located at 6/44 Curtin Place. Open from 11 am until late. Bookings recommended, some tables reserved for walk-ins.
Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.