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HerCanberra gets the Royal treatment

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A long, luxurious and decidedly sophisticated lunch with the HerCanberra team is on the cards. And we are headed to Queanbeyan.

Yep, you read that correctly.

Our destination is the Royal Hotel, once a bit of a rough house, to be perfectly frank.

But everything has changed in the last year as the Royal’s first floor Upper House has undergone a multi-million makeover—creating a new destination point for locals and Canberrans alike.

From the downstairs bistro—also having undergone an award-winning transformation in recent years—to the private rooms and Manhattan room upstairs which is a perfect wedding destination, the Royal is drawing crowds across the border for everything from casual drinks and dining, to live music, big events and private functions.

A private function with a three-course gourmet menu is what we have booked in the Upper House’s Beadman room and here is a taste of what HerCanberra thought when we walked through the door.

Amanda Whitley – Head Chick

Being a small town girl, I have always had a soft spot for Queanbeyan. The town I grew up in had a pub on every corner, although none of them looked like The Royal. One first glance, I was blown away by the sheer size of the space, and the effort that’s quite obviously gone into restoring it to its former glory (and then some). If I had to name a favourite spot, it would be the upstairs courtyard, and I’m already planning a few al fresco summer sessions south of the border.

Accustomed as I am to a good counter meal, the food at The Royal was sure not the pub fare I remember from my youth. Elegant, generous and flavourful, the dishes would be at home at a Mod Oz fine diner. I enjoyed the Roasted King Salmon Fillet, Crab Meat Risotto with Puff Pastry and Parsley Oil for entrée—such a lovely way to start a three-course meal. The salmon was cooked beautifully, complemented perfectly by the punchy risotto.

Main was Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Breast, Baby Spinach, Bocconcini, Balsamic Glazed Tomato, Fondant Potato and Thyme Jus. A modern twist on an old favourite, it was a wonderful combination of salty, tangy and creamy. A great autumn dish.

To finish, I had the Coconut and Kaffir Lime Leaf Panna Cotta, Caramelised Pineapple, Coconut Wafer. After two courses I was flagging, but this light dessert infused with Asian flavours hit the spot. Lush and smooth, the panna cotta contrasted beautifully with the crunch of the coconut wafer and the tartness of the pineapple. Yum.

Would I go back? Mate, I’ve already got plans to stake out that outdoor area at the first sign of balmy evenings.

Belinda Neame – Production Manager

…and unofficial photographer wrangler (her husband Tim Bean took all our photos)

I hadn’t visited Queanbeyan in ages and I’d never been to the Royal before. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I stepped inside. The refurbishment is absolutely stunning—they’ve respected the heritage of the building and turned it into a modern version of its 1850s self! Not a single detail has been missed–texture, hues, warmth, layout and comfort. And don’t get me started on the atrium and courtyard. Those brick walls, couches and beautiful maple trees—divine.

We were seated in the Beadman Room which is a warm and intimate space. Finished with burgundies, greens, wood, leather and a few clashing patterns. A fireplace and floor-to-ceiling curtains top off the beauty of this room.

The food was as delicious as the interiors! I’m not a big lunch gal so I just went for an entrée of chicken tenderloins—they were packed with flavour, melted in my mouth and the perfect portion. And because I had menu regret when Tim’s dishes came out, I couldn’t help but tuck into his tender pork belly and sticky fig pudding as well! And it’s fair to say, we’ll be going back to The Royal. The food, the atmosphere and service were all brilliant.

Beatrice Smith – Online Editor

As someone whose Dad hails from Queanbeyan (does that make me half Queanly?) I cannot tell you the excitement I felt seeing the Royal in all its refreshed glory. Beyond the kick I got from seeing the original stained-glass windows still gracing the upstairs walkway, stepping into the open-air rooftop courtyard was something else, with Japanese maples, sprawling seating areas and a fabulous mid-century bar.

The food was similarly impressive—think Mod-Oz paddock-to-plate dishes that were never too overthought. My beetroot-cured salmon was fresh and flavoursome and if I could take a bath in the buttery mash that came with my steak, I would. We could have been anywhere (Brooklyn, KL, Melbourne) but we were in Queanbeyan. How cool is that?

Laura Peppas – Senior Journalist

There are few things better in winter than a cosy pub—think a roaring fireplace, hearty meals and an ambience at any time of day. While Melbourne and Sydney seem to have them in spades, Canberra has until recently been somewhat lacking. Luckily we don’t have to look too far now, thanks to Queanbeyan’s newly refurbished Royal Hotel.

As we wandered upstairs to our lunch on a chilly autumn afternoon, we were led into a room with beautifully warm, cosy armchairs to sink into, an elegant dining table and a crackling fireplace. (We also couldn’t help but notice the new sun-dappled courtyard adjacent, perfect for a post-lunch drink.)  The space evoked a sense of olde world beauty, with interesting, art deco touches here and there to add character.

Then came the food. As comforting as it was impeccably presented, every dish was a highlight, from the zucchini and ricotta tart, to the beef tenderloin with crushed potato, broccolini and red wine jus (the beef in particular was melt in the mouth tender.)

Often pub desserts can disappoint but the baked New York cheesecake hit the spot without being too rich; while the ultra creamy vanilla ice cream it came with (clearly made in-house and not from a packet) had our Online Editor Bea and I begging for the recipe.

With our bellies full and the fireplace roaring, it was a hard lunch to leave, however, most of us were already planning our next trip back.

Sarah Robinson – Business Development Manager

It was such a beautiful room, within minutes of arriving I had settled myself in front of the fire and ordered a glass of champagne. What a good start!

My beetroot and vodka trout with pickled radish and fennel crumb was delicious. And my Apple Tarte Tatin was absolutely divine.

I loved the style of the room which was so elegant and felt like a New York boardroom from the 1950s. It did not feel like we were in Queanbeyan. Or Canberra. Or Australia really.

I love how the owners have restored the building keeping all of its heritage and creating all of these gorgeous textures and points of interest. It was very art deco and the furniture was unique and set off each space beautifully. Come summer you will find me and my friends, partaking of the odd Aperol Spritz in the gorgeous outdoor atrium.

The Royal Hotel in Queanbeyan can cater for private functions for between 20-250 guests and can tailor a menu to suit any requirement.

the essentials:

What: The Royal Hotel Queanbeyan
Where: 85 Monaro Street Queanbeyan
Open: Seven days 10am-late, opening from midday on public holidays.
Phone: 02 6297 1444
Website: royalhotelqbn.com.au

Photography: Tim Bean Photography

HerCanberra dined as guests of the Royal Hotel but all opinions are of the team. Read our Sponsored Post Policy for more information.

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