When it was announced earlier this year that Three Blue Ducks at the W Hotel was closing, Brisbane diners were left wondering what would fill its place. The answer comes in the form of The Lex, a classy New York-inspired grill that opens today in the five-star hotel.
Grill restaurants have been a part of the New York dining scene since the 19th century, with iconic steakhouses like Delmonico’s, Peter Luger and Keens instrumental in developing the city’s dining culture. In Australia, The Lex joins the ranks of several prominent New York-inspired venues such as Clam Bar in Sydney and Melbourne’s Grill Americano.
The Lex’s chef Pawel Klodowski has quite the pedigree, having worked in New York before heading to Copenhagen to cook alongside chef Rene Redzepi at his three-Michelin-starred restaurant, Noma. But his introduction to grill cooking came earlier, when he was a young chef working in Europe. “Every weekend we would have a steak and lobster night, and I really enjoyed working on the grill,” he recalls to Broadsheet. “That [experience set the path for] my whole career.”
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On Klodowski’s menu, you’ll find creative snacks like tater tots with Avruga caviar and crème fraîche, and an elaborate take on a hotdog made with barbequed octopus. Entrees include soy-and-mirin-cured ocean trout, smoked-maple-and-bourbon pork belly, and grilled lobster with lemon beurre blanc.
Humidity-controlled cabinets mean there are dry-aged meat options, such as macadamia-crusted cobia with buttermilk and tarragon, and a large marbled tomahawk steak from Warwick that’s designed for sharing. Beyond that, a flatiron steak with smoked bone marrow and charred shallots, and a pork cutlet served with chimichurri sauce and braised endive add depth to the menu.
For Klodowski, the key to grilling is to treat high-quality produce as simply as possible.
“I’ve worked around the world and think that Queensland is the best source of produce, whether seafood, meat or vegetables,” he says. “Grilling is a simple method of cooking, but it’s one that highlights the flavour the most.”
To complement the items from the grill, there are classic sides like mac’n’cheese, and a ceasar salad that’s served tableside from a custom-built trolley.
A lengthy cocktail list focuses on the classics, with an ice-cold oyster brine Martini and a number of spritzes, including the Bridge 40 (local gin, house-made limoncello and champagne). Several champagne cocktails will also be mixed tableside, adding a theatrical flair to the drinks service. There’s also an extensive wine list with plenty of robust reds to match the protein-heavy menu.
Overlooking the Brisbane river, the space hasn’t changed much since the Three Blue Ducks days. It now has a slightly darker colour palette with burgundy and olive accents courtesy of the W Brisbane’s original designer, Nic Graham. Panelled walls, rattan chairs and dark timber tables are a nod to the heritage Queenslander look. There’s also a new bar lounge, which Klodowski reckons is an ideal spot to sip a cocktail before or after a meal.
W Brisbane, 81 North Quay Street, Brisbane
(07) 3556 8833
Tue to Thu 6.30am–10am, 5.30pm–9pm
Fri 6.30am–10am, 12pm–3pm, 5.30pm–9pm
Sat 7am–10.30am, 12pm–3pm, 5.30pm–9pm