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Comfort food in a fine dining setting

When it comes to fresh produce and tastebud-pleasing fare, the Sunshine Coast is hard to beat. But, if you are in need of a city escape, then you can’t look much further than this foodie favourite.

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Comfort food in a fine dining setting

When it comes to fresh produce and tastebud-pleasing fare, the Sunshine Coast is hard to beat. But, if you are in need of a city escape, then you can’t look much further than this foodie favourite.

I’ve recently added a new find to my list of favourite Brisbane venues. A beautiful setting with modern fare and an unrivalled city position – it’s hard to believe that Next Hotel has been under my nose this entire time. Settled directly opposite The Myer Centre in Queen Street Mall, Next is home to the celebrated Lennons Restaurant & Bar, which pays homage to one of Brisbane’s most iconic businesses.

It was in 1884 that hotelier John Lennon built the stylish three-storey Lennons Hotel on George Street, by far the most prestigious hotel in the city. In 1941, it was knocked down to make way for a larger building. This hotel was frequented by the rich and famous, with the guest list boasting the likes of The Beatles, Sir Robert Menzies and US General Douglas MacArthur. In 1972, Brisbane Council bought the building and Lennons was built on Queen Street Mall.

Today, that building houses Next Hotel, but its restaurant maintains the famous moniker. It was with this deep sense of history in mind that we settled into our warm window seats on a chilly winter’s evening.

The twinkling lights of Queen Street Mall sparkled through the floor-to-ceiling windows, adding to the restaurant’s sophisticated modern vibe. For me, dining out is about more than the food. A positive experience should serve up knowledgeable and friendly staff, atmosphere, a smart and sophisticated interior design (Lennons boasts an open-concept kitchen), a quality wine list and of course a well thought-out menu. The award-winning Lennons ticks all the boxes.

Designed by head chef Coby Davis, the new winter menu features a range of classics revamped with a modern twist.

We began our culinary journey with an entrée of confit duck plated with beetroot puree, pickled beetroot and beetroot meringue; and the potato gnocchi with pumpkin cream, fetta, sage and walnuts. Both dishes were stunning in presentation and in flavour, particularly when accompanied by a glass of one of the hotel’s most popular wines, the Luna rose.

Our culinary feast continued as our mains were placed on the table – Lennon’s signature pork belly served with braised red cabbage, fried speck and apple cider jus, and the 330-gram wagyu scotch fillet with a Dianne sauce. Chef Davies says he wanted to create a menu that represented upmarket modern comfort food.

“We try to encapsulate this familiar home-cooked feel for guests when they dine with us,’’ he adds.

If only we could dine like this every night.

Visit nexthotels.com/next/brisbane/dining.

IF YOU GO

WHERE TO EAT

Breakfast – Felix for Goodness is a hidden gem in Burnett Lane. It offers an array of delicious treats for breakfast including danishes, frittata and a tasty carrot and sesame mini loaf with ricotta icing.

Nodo in Elizabeth Street has all the usual favourites, with a healthy twist. It is known for its gluten free baked not fried donut treats.

Lennons Restaurant & Bar has a $19.50 special. Choose one item off the menu and also help yourself to the extensive continental buffet of pastries, cereals, toast and cakes.

Lunch – You can’t go past the coolest pool bar in the city. Open from midday on the weekends, The Pool Terrace and Bar at Next Hotel boasts terrace seating with views across the pool to the city beyond. It specialises in tapas, burgers and pizzas.

Dinner – The award-winning Lennons Restaurant & Bar offers a $45 dinner special from Sunday through to Thursday. It includes a main and dessert. Or, you can enjoy the full winter menu on Friday and Saturday evenings.

STAYING THERE

Next Hotel Brisbane is located on Queen Street Mall and provides easy access to the city and airport. The hotel caters for travellers by offering free wifi, a 24-hour gym, pool and transit zone, which consists of showers and sleep pods. Hotel rooms range from the standard queen for $189. We opted for the Deluxe King room, which was spacious with an uber modern bathroom.

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Candice's passion for journalism led her to the Sunshine Coast 12 years ago where she has worked across multiple media and communication platforms. An avid traveller (she lists Paris, Venice and Vietnam as her faves), this mum of one loves meeting with people from all walks of life and finds inspiration within their stories. Candice joined the team in 2014 and is MWP's editor.

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