Bar Rochford named Australia’s Best Bar

Posted 24 Aug 2017

Story by Her Canberra

Bar Rochford is named Australia’s best bar in the 2018 Gourmet Traveller restaurant guide awards.

It’s been a meteoric rise for Bar Rochford. Opening a mere 18 months ago in the historic Melbourne Building, the young team has beaten the competition to take out the title of Australia’s Best Bar in the 2018 Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide Awards overnight.


The judges’ comments suggest that Canberra’s reputation for great food and wine is gaining steam:

“Canberra? You read right. If your memory of nightlife in the nation’s capital involves the sight of tumbleweeds and the sound of crickets chirping, it’s time to update your stereotypes,” says

“This version of Canberra cool involves a watering hole that segues fluidly between restaurant-quality food, wine that puts many a Melbourne or Sydney contemporary to shame, a roaring fire in winter, beautiful Deco arches to let in the light in summer and great beats and good times year round.”

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Speaking to HerCanberra in March 2016, owner Nick Smith said one of Bar Rochford’s aims was to create a truly inclusive space that served great wine and food, and took inspiration from some of Melbourne’s small bars.

“One of my local bars [in Melbourne] was Gerald’s Bar, which was a 50 seater with a one-armed bartender. It wasn’t about going out and getting blind, it was about a nice time with friends or your mum or whoever it was.”

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One of the bar’s strengths is the quality of the food chef Louis Couttopes is dishing out: a European-Spanish-Australian blend of cuisines using locally-sourced and seasonal produce. It turns the idea of a bar being a pre- or post- dinner option on its head, instead effortlessly blending restaurant and bar.

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Other finalists were Seymour’s Cocktails and Oysters, Brisbane; and Big Poppa’s, Sydney.

All images by Martin Ollman.

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