A fast yet upscale business lunch has become the modern holy grail. Whether you're seeking to impress customers or clients, strategising with colleagues, or simply wanting to indulge yourself with something other than a salad or soggy sandwich, finding a restaurant that combines sophistication with affordability can be a challenge.
Enter the Coal Cellar and Grill within the Hilton Adelaide, in the heart of the CBD. This restaurant has hit upon the 'Express Lunch' concept, offering a main dish, a glass of house wine, beer or soft drink, and a coffee, for the all-inclusive price of $25.
I was a bit dubious when I first heard about the offer because hotel restaurants can be hit and miss. In straddling breakfast, lunch and dinner, and in trying to be all things to all people, they can sometimes lose their way. Indeed, I found the breakfast experience at Coal Cellar and Grill somewhat disappointing - with staff demonstrating too little initiative at times and too much at others (in removing my newspaper before I'd finished reading it, one of the seven deadly sins).
However, the Express Lunch offers a solid and satisfying experience. Coal Cellar and Grill offers four menu choices; none of them pedestrian. I chose the confit chicken leg with black lentils, sauteed vegetables and potatoes, with a dash of chicken jus. It was innovative, nourishing, and super-fast. Other options include grilled tofu with sauteed Asian greens, vermicelli noodles and shitake broth; salmon fishcakes with slaw and sweet potato chips; and slow cooked beef bourguignon served with carrots and chat potatoes.
The popularity of the Express Lunch was clear. When I arrived just before midday, the Coal Cellar and Grill was empty. Within the space of ten minutes, several tables became occupied - colleagues sharing a celebration, businessmen cutting deals, and couples simply enjoying something special.
I was rushing to my next appointment, so I didn't have time to linger over coffee. 'No problem, we'll do you a takeaway,' the waiter said. The hot beverage was in my hand, and I was in a taxi, within minutes. Cheers, Coal Cellar and Grill.
For a smart, super-fast business lunch. Author image.