We were invited to come have a dinner at HQ’s on Williams last week. I must admit, I was a bit hesitant at first. This restaurant is inside a hotel (Radisson on Flagstaff) and I haven’t had all that great experiences from hotel restaurants. What I didn’t know then, but know now is that night would leave me with not just one, but two epiphanies.
HQ’s is set on ground level in the corner of the hotel overlooking the street and Flagstaff Gardens. It’s got a fair amount of the typical looks of a hotel restaurants – dark colours, polished stone and some chrome. So yeah, it might not have the cosy factor you find at a lot of restaurants around Melbourne, but don’t worry, it makes it up in other ways.
Let’s just throw ourselves into talking about food. Because we were here to try their vegetarian fares from their new autumn menu. Although we managed to get ourselves an improvised extra as well, as one of the chefs whipped us up a risotto as a starter to the starter. The biggest possibly let down of the night was that his risotto isn’t on the menu. Oh boy, it was good. And you know what? It had brussels sprouts in it. I normally hate brussels sprouts, but in this setting it was divine. Yeah, I’ll go so far to call it divine. It totally was. By the way, that was epiphany one.
The entree, Imam Baildi, was a Turkish spiced eggplant and tomato ragout with quinoa and herbs, covered in saganaki cheese. It was hearty and comforting, and utterly filling. Make sure you head on over here when you’re hungry, because the portions are generous. Like incredibly generous. As in we couldn’t finish off any of the courses despite really, really wanting to.
For me, the highlight of the evening was the main course. A Potato Gnocchi with Garden Vegetables and goats cheese. A couple of days before this meal I had attempted to do something similar myself. I was fairly happy with the outcome of my cooking, but once I had a bite from this lot, I realised I shouldn’t make any more gnocchi. Ever. The homemade gnocchi’s were perfectly balanced between soft and chewy, and the vegetables fresh, crisp and tasty.
When it was time for dessert we didn’t really know how we would survive. But we did it, just for you, dear reader. One of the chefs came out to say hello and deliver the scrumptious desserts. She was amazingly sweet and presented us with a Vanilla Fruit Bombe Alaska (without anything sparkling) and a Soft Centred Warm Chocolate Tart, which came with ice-cream and fairy floss!
Sandra went straight for the more richer, creamier chocolate tart while I gobbled down the soft meringue outside and crisp ice creamy interior of the bombe. My only wish? A bigger stomach so I could fit more into it.
In the end we almost rolled out of the place, crammed ourselves into the car, went home and fell asleep. All that delicious food really got to us. Who knew that a hotel restaurant could present food that wasn’t just hearty, but balanced, interesting and oh so tasty? That was epiphany two. And we might have rolled home, but I’ll be the first to say it was totally worth it.
HQ’s on William
380 William St, Melbourne VIC 3000 (Inside Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens)
(03) 9322 8000
Mon – Fri / 6.30am – 10pm
Sat – Sun / 7am – 10pm
Please note that Klaus and Fritz dined as guests of HQ’s on Williams, but all opinions expressed in this article are our own.