Hotel restaurants always have a tricky needle to thread. Catering to the tastes of hotel visitors, while also appealing to locals to build a base of regular customers, requires exceptional versatility. Adrian Richardson may be the perfect chef for the challenge.

The chef and restaurateur, who many may know from Channel Ten’s Good Chef Bad Chef, has a talent for opening lasting venues. His two Melbourne spots, La Luna and Bouvier, have been open for 25 years and seven years respectively.

The Holiday Inn and Suites Geelong, a key tenant with 180 rooms in the long-awaited $200 million Geelong Quarter development, needed a restaurant that would make an impression – so they reached out to Richardson. Maestro, located on the first level of the hotel, is the result.

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“When you’re travelling, you want to be able to go downstairs and have something that’s nice and comfortable, enjoyable and flavoursome, but not over the top,” Richardson says. “We wanted to have a restaurant where you can walk in, sit down, have a beautiful piece of fish or steak, then go back up to your room.”

“You don’t want to have to walk downstairs and have to eat a six-course degustation menu.”

This ethos pervades the menu, which Richardson designed with executive chef Migo Razon.

“The crux of it is that it’s got to be simple, tasty, well-put-together food,” says Richardson. “That’s really important to me, and that really shows on the plate.”

Starters include house-smoked salmon with horseradish, and rye crisp, and prawn cocktail with dashi, avocado and salmon roe.

Richardson is renowned for his steaks, and here you’ll find six different choices, ranging from Black Angus ribeye to Rangers Valley Wagyu. Other mains include dry-aged duck breast, Spencer Gulf kingfish, and a lamb saddle with thyme, garlic, lemon and peas.

The pasta line-up, which is expected to be a lunchtime hit with locals, includes prawn linguine with clams, and potato gnocchi with mushrooms and sage. Crowd-pleasing dessert options, such as crème brulée, apple tarte tatin and bombe alaska, round things out.

Geelong is rightfully celebrated on the drinks list. Local brewers, including Little Creatures, White Rabbit and Valhalla are all represented, as well as plenty of vineyards from the Bellarine. The rest of the menu is bolstered by a mix of South Australian labels and Old World drops.

Just like the menu, Maestro’s design is simple and elegant. It’s spacious and open plan – the dining areas, bar and function lounges all flow into one another. Soft furnishings in light, muted colours are offset by exposed concrete walls and geometrically textured ceilings. During the day, the floor-to-ceiling windows let the sun pour in. At night, those window seats offer a great vantage point over the Geelong city centre.

Level One, 40 Ryrie Street, Geelong

Lunch: Mon-Sun 12.00 pm to 2.30 pm
Dinner: Sun-Thurs 5.00 pm to 9.00 pm; Fri-Sat 5.00 pm to 10.00 pm

(03) 4225 6100