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Published June 6th 2019
Fine dining in the suburbs
Lily Restaurant at The Glen Hotel at Eight Mile Plains has been garnering accolades for a while now. Ever on the lookout for great restaurants in the suburbs, on Wednesday my daughter and I swapped our usual State of Origin 'Queenslander!' for one of a very different kind. We enjoyed a delicious meal in the gorgeously green surrounds of Lily Restaurant, reminiscent as it is of a bright and airy Queenslander-style verandah.
We were greeted warmly by our waiter and shown to our table overlooking the verdant garden, complete with tinkling fountain. It provided a musical accompaniment to our meal, along with the smooth jazz playing in the background. This lush setting was lovely on a crisp evening, even with the patio blinds sheltering us from the cold. I imagine it would be particularly inviting during a sweltering Brisbane summer.
We were surrounded by greenery, and not just outside: it tumbled from wide white hanging pots, burst from huge urns, edged comfy dining booths, and spilled from the slatted ceilings. It was even repeated in the lush motif of the tropical bench seating.
Weatherboard siding, subtly green tongue-and-groove panelling, slatted walls adorned with gardening implements, casement windows and large sliding doors completed the Queenslander vibe. Simple blonde wood tables and chairs added a Scandi feel and were mixed with high tables and stools, and booths with leather seating, softly lit by linen-shaded lamps. A feature I particularly appreciated was the distance between tables. There was none of that crowded feeling you find in some restaurants.
Lighting was particularly effective. Large cane basket lights mixed with foliage and rope-suspended bulbs and perforated white metal light fixtures punctured the slatted ceilings. It was all very welcoming and inviting, encouraging guests to linger over their delicious meals, and I do mean delicious.
While the vibe may be relaxed the food is fine dining all the way, and what a pleasure it is to discover fine dining in the suburbs. No need to travel into the city, pay for parking and have to walk a mile to your destination. At Lily's you'll find all the quality, presentation and service, but much closer to home. Elegant, ribbed silverware, large wine glasses, beige linen napkins and beautiful, earthy dinnerware complete the picture.
The menu begins with a dedication to the eponymous restaurant's namesake - hotel owner Brian Fitzgibbon's late grandmother, Lily, whose love for greenery is so well captured in the restaurant. The menu is not huge but provides plenty of variety across all courses.
We began our meal with beetroot and goats' cheese tarts. These were a colourful melding of the earthiness of beetroot with the tanginess of goats cheese, and were soft and silky smooth. And the pastry was just the way I like it - very short and crisp. This was indeed a promising start.
For entree, I ordered the Arancini: pumpkin, buffalo mozzarella, pine nut purée, Swiss chard pesto ($15). This had been recommended by our waiter and did not disappoint. Three plump crispy balls sat temptingly on a bed of creamy puree overlaid with pesto in a deep dish and sprinkled with edible garnish. It was a tasty medley of sweet, smoky and creamy flavours.
My daughter opted for the Pork belly fritters: pickled cucumber, soused chilli, sriracha sauce, maple bourbon glaze ($17). Who doesn't love pork belly? And these fritters were a crispy triumph, wrapped in wafer-thin batter and sticky sweet glaze, with the hot sauce punching through the sweetness.
Our main courses were Duck breast with parsnip, asparagus, carrots, sweet onion lychee jam, red wine jus ($37) and Barramundi with kipfler potato, asparagus, dill, king prawn ravioli, lemon jam ($36). They both looked pretty on the plate and followed up with great flavours.
The duck breast was perfectly pink and juicy with lightly crisp skin. The asparagus mousse was fluffy and fresh and the carrots were sweet with a dark, sticky finish. The sweet onion lychee jam added a citrusy tang to the dish and the red wine jus was simply delicious.
My daughter's barramundi (another recommendation from our waiter) was cooked to flaky perfection with the crunchiest skin she's ever had. It was well complemented by the buttery potatoes and prawn ravioli, with the lemon jam a standout.
We decided to share a dessert and the choices here, as in the rest of the menu, made a decision difficult. We finally settled on the aptly-named Strawberry delight with Turkish delight, peppered strawberry, strawberry ice cream, pistachio floss, hazelnut crumb ($16), even though strawberry is not generally my favourite flavour. The delectable strawberry ice cream changed my mind completely. It was not overly sweet, which made the sweet, biscuity crumb just the right accompaniment. The pistachio floss was more than just eye candy but the real surprise for me was the peppered strawberry, an unexpected but excellent marriage of flavours.
Lily Restaurant is a compelling synthesis of relaxed and stylish ambience, good service, a tight and intriguing menu, and enticing food. They also offer a comprehensive and interesting drinks selection.
Fine dining can be had in Brisbane's suburbs, and Lily Restaurant is surely one of its best examples.
See more of Lily Restaurant on their Facebook page here and their Instagram here.