Many, many moons ago, like, (cough) 28 years ago, I worked for City News and our office was in Mary Street. We were a particularly social team (newspaper people being a certain breed of crazy), so Friday after-work drinks were a regular thing. You would find us at one of the many watering holes in the CBD - one of our favourites being the Hilton Brisbane’s lobby bar. Mind you, I, like many other ‘city slickers’, chose the Hilton to meet with clients. Back then, as it is now, it was a cool oasis in the heart of the city. With its soaring atrium and sci-fi like lifts the Hilton’s sophisticated modernity was the perfect environment to share creative ideas over coffee (or a chardonnay). I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the place.
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Since then of course, Brisbane has evolved out-of-sight with many new luxury hotel brands choosing our fair city to call home, yet the Hilton Brisbane still holds its rightful place amongst our top hotels. So, it was lovely to spend a mini stay there recently. Our executive king room had a great view of King George Square and Brisbane City Hall. It was a perspective of the city that I hadn’t seen before – which is the beauty of a stay-cay. You often discover different sides of your own city. Fruit, macaroons, handmade chocolates and a bottle of Veuve were a generous welcome gift. We had access to the Executive Lounge, where we poked our heads in for a look, however we opted to head downstairs to my old stomping ground – the lobby bar. It was busy yet surprisingly quiet with muted conversations and a relaxed vibe. We had an hour before our dinner reservation at the Vintaged Grill restaurant. Scanning the comprehensive cocktail list, I ordered the Rose Mellow – a blissful sour with Beefeater gin, Chambord liqueur, pomegranate syrup, rhubarb bitters and egg white with a sprinkling of rose petals and a rose water. Drink in hand and feeling nostalgic, I was soon regaling hubby with riveting stories of the advertising world and boozy lunches circa 1991 – ahh the good old days.
Two cocktails down, we headed into the adjacent Vintaged Grill restaurant. Sometimes a hotel can be let down by its food, but not the Hilton Brisbane. I can honestly say it was one of the most enjoyable meals I’ve had in ages – it was one of those dining experiences where everything just tasted so good. The menu featured plenty of locally sourced Australian produce, meat and fish, which I think is always great to see on any Brisbane menu. Starting with freshly shucked Australian oysters, I followed with an incredible Grilled Moreton Bay Bug stuffed with sautéed Warringal greens, toasted pine nuts and a lemon pepper butter; sides of divine roast baby carrots with yoghurt, honey from the Hilton Brisbane’s own hives (how good!) and sumac; and steamed seasonal greens. I’ve always thought Moreton Bay Bugs were a little overrated with a lot of shell and not enough bug, however there was plenty of melt-in-the-mouth bug. [Aside – I have actually met renowned fossicker Peter Hardwick who along with a friend, actually gave Warrigal greens their name].
Hubby is a big bloke with an equally big appetite for flavour. He opted for the AAco Wagyu rump MB9 350g steak (from Dalby) with a whole heap of sides and was loving his meal so much that he actually punched the air. His steak was so flavoursome and perfectly cooked that he declared, “That’s the best steak I’ve ever had”. Which says a lot, as he loves a good steak. The next morning, he was just as excited to head back to Vintaged Grill for a buffet breakfast, which again offered a wide and delicious selection. We had to leave early however but next time, we’ll linger longer over their Mimosa breakfast ($39pp Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 11am).
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It’s not the newest kid on the block, however Hilton Brisbane doesn’t need to be. It has the lineage of a world-class hotel brand, first class service, an enviable location and really the most sensational food (and wine list) that’s worthy of Brisbane’s movers, shakers and visitors alike.