The Lion King

Even with all of my good fortune, I’m still plagued by the deepest of curses…
Nobody ever wants to cook for me.

I know, horrific isn’t it? For some unknown reason, because I live and breathe for food, it scares everyone into thinking that;
A. I will judge them harshly if they serve me a backyard sausage sizzle.
B. I will expect silver service fine dining.
C. I will judge them harshly. Period.

I regularly get asked this, almost offensive, question by people…
“Do you score everyone’s food when they cook you dinner? Like on MKR?” *Insert: geeky snorting guffaw from them, followed by my internal quivering scowl of disdain*

Alright, let me get a few things straight here.
Firstly, I love a good sausage sizzle. In actual fact, I make a beeline for it at Bunnings and will save stomach space deliberately for it, so just serve me sausages or something, it’s all good.
Secondly, I love delicious food, period. From street cart satays in Bali, to a well made pub schnitty, to a YOWSER, YOWSER, YOWSER gastronomic gala. However, as much as I appreciate and do adore a silver service experience, I’m actually more casual at my core.
Thirdly, I would never judge someone’s food if they cooked for me, unless I’m in a restaurant, and I’m there specifically to appraise them. But having said that, I live by the old adage that if I haven’t got anything nice to say, then I just shut the f**k up.

Lion - Restaurant

Seriously, what is the point of all this albeit insightful, yet somewhat random information? You ask…
Well, being a casual kinda girl, but also coveting thoughtful, interesting, top-quality food… When the two are combined it thrills me, immensely.
And, I’m not going to beat around the bush here, last Monday I was invited to The Lion Hotel in North Adelaide for a Chef’s Experience lunch, and I made my final departure from their Melbourne street savannah feeling totally and utterly thrilled.

Is it a pub? Is it an upmarket restaurant? Well kids, it’s actually both.
This is what I love about The Lion.
You can sit in the modern and tasteful front bar drinking craft beer and cider from the tap, then when meal time rolls around, you can walk into their chic, airy restaurant and enjoy a supper to rival any traditional fine dining establishment.
It’s casual fine dining, and it’s a trend that I like, and hope never goes out of style.

Now before I begin, I’m going to do something I rarely do this early in the piece. I’m going to talk about price.
Sixty eight dollars and fifty cents.

I need you to understand why I’ve done this.
I’ve done this because, I need you to remember this number as you read, and drool on.
I need you to understand that what The Lion restaurant is offering you is a remarkable treat. A world class shared degustation for the price of a good three course pub meal.
Now, let me go ahead and break it down for you;
The Chefs Experience degustation includes:
3 Bites
5 Main Bites.
3 Desserts.

I know, right!?
A seasonally and randomly changing menu of generous deliciousness, for only $68.50 a head!

After taking my seat and being greeted with our menu for the lunch, I was initially scratching my nog trying to work it all out.
There were so many options – each of which held massive appeal, I couldn’t pick which ones to order. It was then that I was informed; the Chefs experience is ALL of the dishes on our menu.
Hang on…Whaaaaat!? I wept a silent tear of joy.

And so, it begins…

Lion - Oysters

When the first dish of South Australian Kilpatrick Oysters arrived, I was struck by how lovely they looked, perched up proudly on their little ocean pebbles. Kilpatrick is always a crowd pleaser when it’s done well, and these were done well. Super fresh, plump Coffin Bay Oysters with a slightly sweet and salty sauce, I loved them, my taste buds were tantalized and I was ready to commence… Let’s roll betches!!

Lion - Bruschetta

Next, the gorgeous little morsels of Ocean Trout and Smoked Mussel Bruschetta with Preserved Lemon. The beautifully soft cured trout with the very gently smoked mussel, such a perfect combo. The creamy mayonnaise and the hint of citrus and samphire just tied it all together perfectly. It tasted like a mermaid was dancing on my tongue, a spectacular high seas soiree.

Lion - Salumi

Then the obligatory antipasto made an appearance, however this wasn’t just your average plate of cold cuts.
Salumi Cured Meats and Marinated Coriole Olives. I was pleasantly surprised to find Salumi paste on there too. Spreadable salami that I was introduced to recently, and can’t get enough of.

Lion - Scallops

Hervey Bay Scallop Ceviche with Cured Pig Cheek, Seaweed Tapenade and Salmon Roe.
Wow, just Wow.
I loved this dish, so dainty and interesting. The pop of roe gave it extra texture, and the pig cheek, cured…
Yes, just Yes.

Lion - Goat

Next we were presented with the Set Goat’s Cream with Heirloom Beetroots, Figs, Candied Walnuts and Saltbush. Oh my gawd, it was freakin’ plate lickingly delicious.

Lion - tartare

But, then all my taste buds prayers were answered, before my taste buds even knew they were praying for an answer.
Beef Tartare with Fermented Chilli, Radish and Rice Crackers.
I don’t even know where to begin with this dish. The incredible grass-fed beef fillet? The pickled radish, the fresh radish… Well actually, just the radish in general?
Those rice crackers, the perfect courier for the incredible flavour sensation that they protectively surround?
I loved this dish. Like, I really LOVED it. I’d return just for it.
I’m still thinking about it, I can’t stop thinking about it.

From here on in, I’m just gonna let the pictures do the talking… mostly.

Lion - Pasta

Linguine with Chilli Prawns, Riesling, Ginger, Capers, Citrus Leeks and baby Spinach. This mouth-watering pasta has been on the menu for over 10 years, and the fact I went back for second and third serves tells you all you really need to know here.

Lion - Mushrooms

Forest Mushrooms, Truffled Custard, Organic Spelt and Rye Crumbs. The fact this unbelievably stunning and deliciously hearty vegetarian dish was incredible enough to make it my ‘Blog Post Money-Shot’ tells you all you need to know here too. Simply divine.

Lion - Pork

Murray Valley Pork Rack with Black Vinegar, Coconut Yoghurt, Sambal Belacan and house-made Kimchi cabbage. The Coconut Yoghurt can only be described as a wizard like stroke of magical genius on this already phenomenal, rotisserie dish.

Lion - Steak

Perfectly rotisserie cooked and char-grilled Scotch Fillet with Caramelized Onions, Mustard and Red Wine Jus. Served with a side of Shoestring Fries and Aioli. GET. IN. MA. BELLY.

By this stage, I was full. But since I like to be a team player, I pushed on and helped my lunchin’ Lion squad demolish the dessert.

Lion - Lemon

Caramelised White Chocolate with Lemon Curd, Spiced Shortbread, Rum Syrup and Coconut Sorbet. Oh my god, this was so effing yum, just reciting the title makes my mouth well up.

Lion - Pear

But… Honey Roasted Pears with Vanilla Labna, Walnut Crumble and Pear Sorbet. It was breakfast and dessert, all rolled together in the most deliciously, delightful dish. That sorbet, and that flourish of Saffron Pashmak over the top, just skyrocketed it into the echelons of foodgasmic ecstasy. I loved it, and I’d be happy to end any meal, anywhere, with that exact dessert.

Lion - Ice Cream

Lastly, we were bequeathed the dish that Elvis would’ve died for; in fact I felt my arteries clogging with every mouthful. Peanut Butter and Raspberry Jelly Ice Cream Sandwich with Bitter Chocolate Ganache and Scorched Banana. This was richer than Priscilla after the divorce and perfect for a shared dessert because you’d never be able to finish it solo.

I have nothing negative to say about this meal or the Chef’s Experience overall, I loved every mouthful. The feast of food, the fantastic wine options, the service and of course the company. What a memorable way to while away an afternoon.
Couple this with the Lion’s stellar front bar – and equally stellar bar menu, their off-site catering, the Lion’s on-site function rooms, their longstanding collaborations with some of South Australia’s best local producers… And, then it all being headed up by the Lion’s extraordinary head Chef Jason Chalmers, who’s been there for over 13 years.
The Lion has left me with no doubt, and it should leave you with no doubt also…
It truly is a King.

Until next time… xxx



For More information about the Chef’s Experience at the Lion Restaurant or to make a booking – which you should do, immediately! Please go to the following link;


The Lion

161 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide
South Australia 5006
PH: 08 8367 0222



  1. Sarah said on December 22, 2015 Reply
    Oh glawb! I need to get back in there for that Elvis-killing dish, ASAP! And everything else.
    1. Bree May said on January 20, 2016 Reply
      I Know, right!? Such a fantastic meal, and even better company! X

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