I was invited to lunch at Vintaged Bar & Grill yesterday with a few other food writers. This sort of thing is new to me and I was really looking forward to going. It was organized by Geri Napier from KDPR and hosted by Kimberly Roberts, the Marketing and Communications Manager for the Hilton Hotel.
The restaurant is on the 6th floor of the Hilton above the busy Queen Street Mall and has been awarded a prestigious Chef’s Hat 2012 from the Queensland Food Food Guide.
Yes, I know, we’ve all learned from experience that hotel restaurants can be rather uninspiring. Before the recent $14 million dollar refurbishment to the hotel and restaurant, there was a decidedly ordinary seafood buffet that was completely ripped out, palm trees and all. The brand new Vintaged Bar & Grill was designed by Mark Landini to align with Australia’s iconic architect Harry Seidler’s original vision for the hotel. The Brisbane Hilton is the only hotel in Australia designed by Seidler.
As soon as I arrived I was met by Clint from Vintaged who told me all about the big changes the restaurant has gone through to achieve a modern, welcoming atmosphere. A dry aged meat cabinet lined with back-lit Himalayan salt bricks is the backdrop for the open grill where you’ll see flames shooting up as you watch the chefs work the grill.
In front of the open grill is the Chef’s Table where up to 9 guests can enjoy an interactive dining experience watching the chef prepare a wonderful meal. There’s a special on now where groups of friends who love good food and wine can enjoy an epicurean experience for only $90 per person. Sounds like a great party to me.
If wine is more to your liking, you’ll LOVE the dedicated wine room with over 1000 bottles to choose from. Guests can enter the wine room to choose their own wine and all of the waitstaff have been fully trained to assist you in your wine selection. I don’t know about your experience with some sommeliers but I’ve had the “look down the nose” a time or two and that doesn’t happen here.
Just in front of the wine room is a 5 metre wine table with an ice well in the middle for communal dining (perfect for business travelers who are sick of eating alone) or for wine tastings or special events. This is where we sat and I have to tell you, sometimes in busy restaurants it’s often so noisy I can’t hear everything that’s said from across the table. The wine table is quite wide with the ice well in the middle but I was perfectly able to hear Hannah from Tales of a Truffle Pig who was on the opposite end on the other side of the table. I don’t know how they managed the acoustics but it made me feel really comfortable.
We were invited to test out the $20 lunch menu, available Sunday to Friday which offers a set menu of 5 of Vintaged’s signature dishes and accompanied by a glass of red or white wine or a craft beer. Complimentary freshly made bread was first on the table and it was delicious. Here’s the $20 menu:
Tajima full blood wagyu silverside rueben sandwich
John Dee short ribs with potato puree and gremolata
Beer battered blue eyed trevally, crushed peas, chips and tartare
Kurobuta twice cooked pork belly with colcannon potato and mustard jus
Orecchiette pasta with broccoli, corn, peas and pecorino
Executive Chef Jeremy Clark stopped by for a quick chat and said that by far the reuben sandwich was the most popular followed by the pork belly. This photo doesn’t do him justice — he has a wonderful smile.
I asked Jeremy about the difficulties of working in an open grill kitchen and he said that it took some work to perfect a menu that the guests loved and didn’t require an oven. I think he did well.
Jeremy had a lot of influence in the Vintaged launch and I loved the bistro feel to the place. Before lunch I was able to talk with some of the staff at Vintaged and Jeremy has created an environment where they feel a part of something new and wonderful. They’re very proud of where they work and the food they serve.
Geri had the John Dee short ribs with potato puree and gremolata and the aroma coming off her plate was so good I wanted to exchange plates when she wasn’t looking. The meat was falling off the bone and looked very flavourful.
Seriously though, my pasta dish was delightfully fresh and filled with broccoli, peas and corn and sprinkled with shaved pecorino. Every bite was a delight. It was a big dish and the thought of eating all that at lunch made my eyes open wide but then I remembered this quote from Sophia Loren, “everything you see I owe to spaghetti,” so I tucked right in! I think I look better already.
Matt Kirkegaard from Good Beer Lunches had the pork belly and it had a nice piece of crackling on top and the meat below looked juicy and inviting. It was served over colcannon mash and I love that. I think I would have served it with some colour on the plate but that’s just me.
Kim, Alana and Hannah all had the reuben sandwich. Kim had hers gluten-free and not toasted but all three looked filled to the top with tasty. I’ve eaten quite a few reuben sandwiches in New York and these looked very good.
I was too full for dessert but there were some yummy ones across the table. Alana (who came in 3rd at last year’s MasterChef competition and is lovely in spite of her fame) had the lemon mascarpone tart and Hannah (the cutest food blogger I’ve seen in a long time) had the mixed nut praline and ice cream. Both looked amazing.
Too soon it was time to head back to the Sunshine Coast but I can assure you, when it’s time for another visit to Brisbane, Vintaged Bar & Grill will be where I’m heading. So many more things to try!