Best hotel restaurants: bon appétit!

By Lachlan Probyn,

Back in the 90s any self-professed foodie wouldn’t be caught dead in a hotel restaurant – that is unless they appreciated rubbery food served on a tepid buffet from 6pm-9pm. In the 21st century, however, it’s a slightly different story. Think of the internationally revered Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London’s Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel.

But this trend is not just reserved for the Brits. Here at home we’ve witnessed a sprouting of haute cuisine restaurants in some of the country’s best hotels. So we’ve compiled a list of our favourite hotel restaurants because the only thing that’s better than food is food that’s shared with others. Bon appétit!

Pei Modern – Four Seasons Sydney

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If you’re dining in Australia’s oldest suburb, The Rocks, it only seems fair that you should be celebrating Australian produce and wine at Mark Best’s coveted Pei Modern. Housed in the split-level lobby, the restaurant offers hearty fare with a Mediterranean twist. We’re talking kangaroo sirloin and beetroot, alongside burrata with crispy kale and pea soup. With his culinary creativity, Best has won the hearts of many foodies, so much so that Pei Modern took home the Age Good Food Guide’s Chef Hat in 2016.

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Cultural types will love the Pre-Theatre menu which runs from 5:30pm-7:00pm each night, and offers two courses with tea/coffee for $55. If you’re craving that added sweet kick to conclude your pre-theatre supper, you can opt for the three-course meal with tea/coffee for $70. Our thoughts? Once you’re there you may as well go all out with three courses!

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If the idea of the perfect night involves dinner, theatre, and a luxurious bed to come home to, why not give the Four Seasons Sydney your full attention, and spend the night there? Rooms look out over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and come with fine furnishings and a truly lavish bathroom!

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Wildflower – COMO The Treasury

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While we’re mostly familiar with seeing an emu on our Australian passports, at Wildflower, you can see it on your plate – smoked over jarrah embers and drizzled with horseradish and ribery dressing to be specific! If this all sounds a little much, perhaps Wildflower is not for you. The experimental menu celebrates Australian flora and fauna, pairing staple meats with not so staple ingredients – think grilled lamb with native herbs and peppermint tree vinaigrette.

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When it comes to any type of experimentation, we all love our safeguards, and these can be found in Wildflowers’ wholesome sides which include triple cooked potatoes and cos lettuce salad with pistachio. Conclude your culinary feat with one of the three desserts on offer – our pick? The wildflower honey custard with pollen syrup and sandalwood brittle – how could you ever feel guilty eating such a combination?

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If you’re wooed by Wildflower’s refined experience, you can expect nothing less with a stay in the restaurant’s housing hotel, COMO The Treasury. Set in a 19th century building, rooms reflect all the grandeur of yesteryear, offering high ceilings, intricate wood paneling, and large opening windows.

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The Playford – MGallery by Sofitel

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We know we’re in for a good meal when we’re served an 18-hour baked sourdough loaf as an appetizer shortly after sitting down. At The Playford, this is just the beginning. This award-winning restaurant uses high quality South Australian produce to develop innovative, world-class cuisine.

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The hotel’s philosophy is to create a home away from home, and why would you not want to house yourself somewhere that served crispy Loukoumi pork belly with burnt grapefruit and pan-seared barramundi with chorizo gremolata?

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If you love your wine just about as much as your food, you’ll be delighted by The Playford’s boutique wine list. Their selection is so damn fine they were awarded Two Glass Winner in Gourmet Traveller’s Australian Wine List of the Year from 2014 – 2016. And rather than sparing that final glass of Sauvignon Blanc for the drive home, simply stumble upstairs for a restorative night in one of MGallery’s hotel rooms. Freshen up in your luxurious bathroom, then crash out on a pillowy king-sized bed for a deep slumber.

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No35 – Sofitel Melbourne on Collins

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What’s better than eating a plate of incredibly prepared food? Eating a plate of incredibly prepared food with spectacular panoramic views of course! At No35, you can dine to a seasonal menu with a 360-degree backdrop of the Melbourne skyline. As the city lights up outside, your palette too will be enlightened with Martin Horsley’s menu of locally-sourced produce. Standouts include the southern fried quail with pineapple and chili salsa and the braised Gippsland beef with truffle butter.

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Melburnians are mad about their brunch! Every Sunday, queues flock for hours to get their fair share of eggs which are either fried, poached, or baked, and served alongside a hefty portion of smashed avo, Meredith feta, and Persian salt. If you’re willing to splurge a little more for your next brunch affair, No35 offers a hearty buffet from 12:30pm-3pm, and the best bit? It comes with a glass of sparkling for all those aspiring to the maxim of the Sunday morning ‘hair of the dog’.

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If your optimal Sunday consists of a brunch, followed by an afternoon nap, why face the hassle of negotiating Melbourne trams or congested traffic when a luxurious room is awaiting you below? In keeping with the hotel’s location at the Paris end of Collins Street, rooms boast a French aesthetic of soft grey, white, and chocolate alongside luxurious furnishings and dreamy linen.

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Restaurant Tasman – Hotel Grand Chancellor

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At restaurant Tasman you won’t experience any grimaced faces from waiters condemning your request of a well done steak. Here you can treat your taste buds to 230 grams worth of grass-fed Tasmanian beef fillet chargrilled exactly to your liking. Whether you have it rare or incinerated, your steak à la ‘you’ is served with truffled mash, onion rings, and bacon jam – plain yum!

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If you follow a pescatarian diet and you’d prefer a serve of fresh seafood with a side of aphrodisiac, nothing beats the half-dozen plate of local oysters. Fresh and simple, these cockled morsels come with lemon and mignonette dressing and will send you straight into the right mood. Ooh la la!

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After washing down several glasses of Tasmania’s revered cool climate wines, fret not. Rather than negotiating a chilly Hobart walk home, treat yourself to an opulent stay upstairs in the Grand Chancellor hotel. Those who ask politely may even be treated to one of the Harbour View rooms.

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Fat Noodle – Treasury Casino and Hotel

You don’t have to venture to Vietnam to experience the buzz and culinary delights of an Asian Hawker Market. Celebrity chef Luke Nguyen has brought his Vietnamese origins to the table – quite literally – at his restaurant Fat Noodle. Housed in Brisbane’s Treasury Casino and Hotel, Fat Noodle serves all the usual favourites including the iconic 20-hour Fat Pho Noodles, which features Luke’s signature beef broth, Angus sirloin, and fresh Thai basil. If you like it hot, go for the fiery laksa and let the chili sizzle your flaming palette.

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If you’d rather align yourself to the frantic ‘on the go’ spirit of a traditional Asian street market, opt for the express menu which serves a series of scrummy yummy morsels of goodness all in the same amount of time it takes you to sit down and adjust your napkin!

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For a paralleled five-star kind of experience, book a night in the adjoining hotel, and step into some majestic European elegance. As you settle your food coma on a dreamy pillow-top bed, marvel at exposed wood beams, 18-feet high ceilings, and opening French double doors. Très bon!

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Fancy some afternoon culinary indulgence? Here’s our post on where to find the best high tea.