Then, with the growth in Adelaide’s restaurant and bar industry in the past 15 years creating so much more choice for diners, the 1980s-built hotel appeared to lose favour. But after recently undergoing a $5 million renovation, the Hilton Adelaide has once again positioned itself at the forefront of the city’s burgeoning and highly-competitive food scene.
The cavernous ground-floor area, which was previously a blur of hotel lobby, lounge and dining areas, has been completely reimagined and redefined with the creation of a contemporary new bar and restaurant by Sydney designers Landini Associates. Coal Cellar + Grill opened a few weeks ago with a large marble bar and stunning caged bottle cellar adjacent to the hotel lounge.
The restaurant beyond features an open kitchen and retro styling using stone, timber and leather textures. It has a palette of copper tones against a backdrop of matt black exposed ceilings and geometric flooring.
Head chef Lloyd Cremer has continued to champion Simon Bryant’s “Seriously South Australian” philosophy of promoting local produce. The menu offers a selection of dishes featuring ingredients such as Clare Valley beef, Savannah chicken, Loxton free-range pork, SA Gulf prawns and Paringa lamb, but Coal is definitely not a restaurant just designed for tourists.
The space now makes sense and the Hilton Adelaide is set to become relevant and current again.
Favourite dish: Sangria-Marinated Watermelon with feta, apple and pistachio crumble ($15). This is a “salads” dish with refreshing and unusual flavours. An inspiring offering which we will try to replicate at home for summer entertaining.
Other dishes: We tried the Piquillo Pannacotta ($15) on the “Starters” list. This was a bright orange/red custard of spicy, sweet piquillo peppers and smoked mozzarella cheese served with red-pepper salsa and crisp slices of cured pork cheek. The flavour of the pannacotta was intense and would have been better served as an accompaniment rather than the main feature of the dish.
The Strip Loin with Portobello Mushroom Butter and Fries (pictured at top) and the Pan-Seared Salmon with Avocado Salsa and Asparagus (above) were two of the four dishes offered on the “Express Lunch” menu ($25 including a glass of house wine, beer or soft drink and coffee). The steak had great flavour and the salmon was a lovely light lunch dish. The house wines offered were Jack Estate 2013 Chardonnay from Coonawarra and Maxwells Silver Hammer 2013 Shiraz from McLaren Vale.
Something sweet/to drink: We couldn’t resist the Bombe ‘Australiana’ ($16) – a lemon-myrtle meringue bombe Alaska filled with wattleseed ice cream, Davidson plum sorbet at the core and macadamia praline sprinkled around the edge. This pretty dessert is a salute to Simon Bryant’s work with Australian native ingredients and a great dish for visitors from overseas.
But the dessert we want to bring our family and friends back for is the Strawberries and Cream for two to share ($25). This enormous dish of plump strawberries was served with the most delicious vanilla-flavoured house-made ice cream, three peanut-butter-sandwiched hazelnut japonais (meringue discs), whipped cream and strawberry sauce. It is more than generous as a dessert for two people.
Coal boasts a 3000-bottle wine cellar, so there’s plenty to keep the wine enthusiasts interested. The wine list covers most wine varietals and offers wines by the bottle from local wineries to renowned wine regions of the world, ranging in price from around $50 to more than $1000.
Coal Cellar + Grill
Hilton Adelaide, 233 Victoria Square, Adelaide, 8237 0697
Breakfast: Monday to Friday, 6.30am to 10.30am; Saturday, 6.30am to 11am.
Lunch: Monday to Friday, 12pm to 2.30pm.
Dinner: Monday to Sunday, from 6pm.
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