Former Stirling Hotel head chef Ben Dowler has taken the reins at The Lion in North Adelaide.
Lion Hotel’s restaurant relaunches under new executive chef
The Lion Hotel has relaunched its restaurant with a fresh menu from new executive chef Ben Dowler.
There are classic dishes alongside splashes of creativity in the new menu, such as the barramundi wings, which Ben says have been a popular choice.
“Barra wings are normally tossed [out], but we’re turning something normally thrown away into something delicious,” Ben says.
He spent two months developing the menu with his sous chef, but it has already evolved a few times since it went live in August.
“We changed it last week, we’ve overhauled some dishes and tinkered with a few recipes,” he says
Ben was brought on by Duxton Pubs Group, which purchased The Lion back in July 2020 and has run it since November following a closure due to COVID.
The menu isn’t the only shake up at The Lion. Several new experiences have cropped up since ownership changed hands.
At the end of last year, the Lion Wine Room opened, allowing guests to purchase wines for both takeaway and table service – an idea Duxton Group wine director Pablo Theodoros says he borrowed from the Stanley Bridge Tavern, which the company also runs.
“It’s wine storage, it’s a wine bar, it’s a bottle shop, it’s everything in one,” Pablo says.
The pub has also started hosting wine dinners, where guests are guided through a curated wine experience, with matched food.
“We get tasting notes from the featured winery, and we base our menu off of that,” Ben explains.
“Whether its individually plated or shared platter or whatever, it’s up to the winery.”
The pub’s next event, on 28 October, is La Festa Del Barolo, which will highlight 12 wines from around Barolo and Piedmont alongside a six-course Italian feast.
Aside from dinners, The Lion also hosts wine masterclasses, which Pablo says attract a different crowd looking for a more focussed experience.
“We still like wine dinners, but for this you find you get more wine lovers,” Pablo says.
The masterclasses have proven popular and, due to a limit of 15 people per class, the venue has begun hosting them more frequently.
“We started out doing them every second Wednesday with two sessions, and they filled up almost immediately,” Pablo explains.
“So we started doing them every Wednesday, but they filled up again, so we’ve started doing them on Wednesdays and Thursdays now.”
Pablo often imports wines not usually seen at the pub for the masterclasses, and guests can purchase bottles after the event from the Lion Wine Room.
If you want first word on upcoming masterclasses, the pub runs a wine club through its website, giving early access to bookings.
The Lion Hotel is located at 161 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide, and is open from 7:30am ‘til late Monday to Sunday.