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!
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
The food looks really good! And acoustics is one of those things that can really annoy people. I hate shouting at people all night and saying “what?”:P
Or worse, fearing your deaf and everyone else can hear but you so you just nod like those toy dogs they sit in the back windows of cars 🙂
$20 for all that food? Oh man, what a bargain!
I will be in Queensland in a few weeks time, and will spend several days in Brisbane. I’ve just popped this one on my list 🙂
$20 for one of those dishes + a drink is still ridiculously good value!
wow! If you have time to meet while you’re up here, I’m in! 🙂
What an awesome opportunity! Such a beautiful atmosphere with such great spread of food for $20! You photographed it all so well!
I was amazed at the value too because it’s smack downtown in the center of a really big city.
Lora @cakeduchess says
Beautiful, Maureen. Your photos are incredible and this place is gorgeous! How I would love to come visit you and see all these lovely places. The food looks so good!
Lora, I would love to show my second home to you! Just tell me when 🙂
Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook says
Looks like a fantastic place! Beautiful. And now I have a huge craving for a Rueben!
It’s a beautiful restaurant, if restaurants can be beautiful. It has a very home-like atmosphere and I love that single hotel stayers can dine together at the communal tables if they wish.
the wicked noodle says
That is one killer lunch menu! I wish the hotels I stay in had restaurants that good!
I knew I wasn’t the only one who’d had an ordinary hotel meal 🙂
What a fun event and the food looks wonderful. I love that the acoustics were so good…that’s one of my pet peeves in open and industrial spaces for restaurants…this one looks extremely well planned. Love the cool ice section in the table middle, too. I’m torn between the Reuben and the Pasta!
The reuben did look good but it was really big and I’m not a big middle of the day eater. I’m more of a grazer. 🙂
Sanjeeta KK says
On man…all for just 20$..lucky you! What a beautiful read and clicks, Maureen.
You’re so right. For only $20 it was a complete meal. AND, in Australia the taxes are added in and there is no expected tipping. Tipping is only if you’ve had spectacular service. Waitstaff here are paid a full salary.
Marta @ What Should I Eat For Breakfast Today? says
I’d love to go there. Each presented dish look fab.
My photography wasn’t that great. I took the little camera because it’s not so obvious but I think next time I’ll forget my concerns and bring the good one 🙂
Jenn and Seth says
such a great write-up, that restaurant sounds delicious!
Thanks a lot, coming from you that makes me feel pretty special 🙂
wow everything looks amazing, but I would choose Geri’s dish 🙂
Rhonda, you’re not wrong. There wasn’t anything in her dish but the bones when she finished. I wasn’t sitting next to her but I could inhale and almost taste it.
The Café Sucré Farine says
Wow Maureen, this place looks spectacular! What a fun day it must have been for you!
What was really fun was meeting other food writers. So often I feel isolated up here. 🙂
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
Now why have I never heard that quote from Sofia Loren before? I love it!
I’ haven’t heard of this place but sounds like I might have to try it out. The wine room sounds interesting and yes I know what you mean about the looking-down-their-nose!
My favourite dish was the short rib and I would have definitely wanted a dessert after that. 🙂 Shame I’m so far far away from the restaurant because there were some nice items on the menu. No fish lovers in your group, I see. 🙂
What a great looking restaurant!
How lucky! to have been invited to a wonderful restaurant with some delicious meal. Everything look great.
Hotly Spiced says
You write a great review Maureen. What a wonderful experience and how special to be invited to dine with these other bloggers. I love the look of the food and it is so reasonably priced. I think I would have ordered the Reuben sandwich but the pork belly looks great too – but, I’m with you in that it needs some greenery xx
Barbara | Creative Culinary says
I was OK with my stupid dinner until I saw this…what a feast and what a bargain. Now off to find something/anything to eat; I’m hungry!!
LOL Come to Australia and we’ll go to this place together 🙂
Looks like a swell place. Over the years I’ve actually had some quite good meals in hotel restaurants, but I’ve had many more misses than hits. And for whatever reason they tend to be a it more expensive. But not this meal – I, too, am surprised at the value you’re getting for the money.
I was really surprised too because this is in the heart of the city’s main shopping district and it’s one of the top hotels in town.
Oh! How much fun! I love the design of their logo, and those sandwiches look so very good (I’m such a sucker for sandwiches). Thank you for sharing with me, my friend.
I wanted a light meal at lunch but the pasta dish was the biggest. Next time it’s the sandwich 🙂
looks like a cool place indeed heres to many more fun invites
let’s hope 🙂
Choc Chip Uru says
Thanks for sharing my friend, what an exciting opportunity 😀
Everyone looks delicious!
Choc Chip Uru
You would have loved my pasta dish filled with veggies!
Jen @ Savory Simple says
What a gorgeous restaurant! The food looks incredible!
lizzie - strayed from the table says
$20 lunch menu in the city sounds good to me. The food looks really fresh, and sounds like you had a good time.
Nami | Just One Cookbook says
I love what they serve here. So hard to find kurobuta or the real wagyu beef over here. I’d totally join for this great meal if I live on the same continent. Ah!