THE LION HOTEL RESTAURANT, Adelaide
Well, well, well… how great it was to head back to The Lion Hotel restaurant after a few years and find that the food is not only good, it’s REALLY good! I should clarify that the food here has always been good, but it didn’t really give me that thrill. But what I found on this visit was an exciting new menu executed extremely well.
The Lion Hotel means different things to different people. It’s a place for a quiet catch up, it’s live music, and for many, it’s a spot to go for a big night of drinking. There’s a casual menu available on the bar side so you can have breakfast, lunch, dinner or just a nibble, and I guess it’s easy to forget that right next to the bar is this classy and sophisticated restaurant. I just love the fit out. The light fittings, the seats, the white table cloths – it’s a really nice space to be in – I found myself instantly relaxed. When you’re inside, you wouldn’t even know that next door is at times, a noisy, crowded bar.
The reason I was keen to get back to here is because I’d seen some nice looking dishes on social media so I decided it was time for another visit. I thought it must be a new chef but no – Jason Chalmers has been here for quite a number of years and for the last few he’s been overseeing the kitchen not only for the restaurant but also for the bar and functions. Jason’s food is modern and far from boring, incorporating a number of elements on the plates.
The thing I liked about the menu was that everything sounded good. In some places it’s a matter of picking the best of an uninspiring bunch. But the two of us ummed and ahhh’d for quite some time, finally deciding to share two starters and two mains (I should mention here that if you can’t decide, you can choose to have the chefs selection for $68.50pp). To start we had the Miso cured kingfish with burnt carrots, fennel and blood orange ($15.90) and the Whole Moreton Bay bug with roasted peanut curry butter, nori and finger limes ($21.90). The kingfish was fresh and sweet and, to put it simply, I love miso so I loved this dish before I even ate it. The bug was a good size with lots of flesh to share, and the butter was nice and bold. We were off to a very good start. Both were beautifully presented, fresh and flavoursome.
The first main I’ll mention is the Forest mushrooms, truffled custard, organic spelt and rye crumbs ($35.90). We both love mushrooms and I found this an excellent, hearty vegetarian option and a textural delight – the silken custard, the crumb and the meaty mushroom goodness. We ordered a side of Charred broccolini and kale with shallot mustard dressing. The kale was a little salty, but that was its only downfall. But the true star of the night was the Murray Valley pork rack with black vinegar, coconut yoghurt, sambal belacan and kimchi cabbage ($37.90). What a dish! Seriously – WHAT A DISH! I’m so thankful we ordered it. The meat was so moist and that coconut yoghurt… ohhhhhhhh, that coconut yoghurt! I could stick my head in bucket of that! Our waiter Hamish even brought out a little extra for us as we were having such a foodgasm. And the kimchi was mild enough not to overpower the dish. This dish had everything going for it.
And just to enhance my review, my friend considered it essential that we have a dessert and she chose the Peanut butter and raspberry jelly ice cream sandwich with bitter chocolate ganache and scorched banana ($15.90). I’d already been out for lunch that day so I could only fit in a mouthful but it was delicious.
I was blown away with this place. Great ambience, contemporary food and attentive service. I highly recommend The Lion Hotel restaurant and I’ll definitely be going back.