A dish of mussels at Ellacure restaurant at Bruce.

A dish of mussels at Ellacure restaurant at Bruce. Photo: Marina Neil

Rating: 14/20

  • Corner Braybrook and Battye Streets, Bruce, 6251 0990
  • www.ellacure.com.au
  • Owners Greg, Lee and Andrew Hollands, Gus Armstrong, chef Andrew Hollands
  • Open lunch Tuesday to Sunday, dinner Tuesday to Saturday, breakfast on weekends
  • Licensed and BYO, corkage $3.50 a person
  • Wheelchair accessible, disabled toilets

There's something about this place that grabbed me from the start. Ellacure is in a fairly strange part of the world just outside the Canberra Stadium among the apartments housing young and fit people at the Australian Institute of Sport.

Over the past four years, it has become a fairly regular destination for me, as one of the very few decent and above all consistent places out in this part of Canberra.

Thumbs up for being there for us in Belconnen. Ellacure is relaxed and well run, with solid food and not-bad wine.

I'm not sure what they're doing that creates this feeling of comfort and a sense of belonging. They're well versed in service, and it's always busy but under control, thanks to a confident staff led by owner Gus Armstrong.

The well-priced menu is fairly whimsical, a slight Italian feel but not strongly defined, a kind of classic modern Australian cafe menu which changes fairly regularly, back and forward through a reasonable repertoire.

There are solid contributions from dishes like lamb shanks with a lentil braise ($26), salmon with fennel and orange salad ($31), pasta and risotto ($16-$24), plus a pretty good pizza list that fuels a reasonable local takeaway trade. There's always a good range of specials, and I'm a fan of their duck, doesn't matter what they've paired with it, I'm in.

The wine list is serviceable and we can always find a reasonable bottle to share, although things could probably use a revamp.

The look is simple modern cafe, but given the fast pace of things, the busy hum and the moody lighting, it's anything but bland.

There's also doors opening on to a deck, and Ellacure is a good place for weekend breakfast after that long bike ride, or your training session on the AIS track.

Go on. It will make you feel the part.