David Clarke (previously Executive Sous Chef at Quay) is doing an excellent job in this new theatre of meat. I’d call the sanded stucco walls, distressed mirrors and bare naked bulbs the sexiest refit in town. I think it is romantic in a post-industrial kind of way, however the abattoir-like atmosphere may not appeal to vegetarians (though the menu offers them choices). The abattoir motif is reflected in the logo of axes and saws, so it's not just me.
My dining companion said it was like "dining in a whale skeleton" but he may have been going too far?
Whatever it looks like, the eye for detail on everything including the recycled timbers and wooden wash boards, lit by soft, naked bulbs is amazing. Looking up, here is a better look at the distressed mirrors, and the light fittings.
We were impressed enough with the wine list - it was wide ranging with lots of familiar labels we had tried before with enough unfamiliar labels. It's largely Australian wines with a fair amount of New Zealand, Italian and French wines. We asked for some assistance and were recommended the 2006 Josef Chromy Pinot Noir ($13/glass, $60/bottle) from Reilba, Tasmania. It was a lovely fruit driven pinot, with a nice savoury component, and it fulfilled the brief we gave perfectly.
In the bar snack menu, the humble risotto ball (destroyed for me by too many poor ones from Opera Point Events at Sydney Opera House functions) is totally redeemed with a bar snack of moist Taleggio Risotto Balls ($11.50) with Australian morels.
Freshly shucked Moreton Bay Oysters ($31.90/dozen) are nicely set off by an excellent apple and verjuice jelly. The jelly had a beautiful soft texture, and was so tasty I ate the remaining bits spoonful by spoonful. I was also impressed to see liquor left on the oysters, and slurped it up with relish. We enjoyed the oysters with a glass of Charles de Fere ($10/glass, $45/bottle) champagne which was lovely and dry with a crisp apple note.
Diners favouring lighter choices have an interesting range of chopped salads including the hand shelled Alaskan King Crab ($19.50/$27) with yam beans, roe, asparagus and crème fraiche. Having developed a near obsession for Alaskan King Crab legs after watching too many episodes of The Deadliest Catch then finally trying them in Las Vegas and then finding them again in a recent trip to Wellington, New Zealand, I found ordering them too hard to resist. Sadly they didn't quite live up to the flavoursome representations I have had thus far.
Of course though, the emphasis here is the beef. There is lots of grain fed beef, and a few pasture fed option for those, like myself, who prefer them. A special of 650g Collie Creek Pasture Fed Rib on the Bone ($44) is tasty and extremely substantial, served with an excellent green tomato chutney.
A lady-sized 180g Wagyu Minute Steak with Café de Paris Butter ($19.50) is quite simply the best minute steak I’ve ever eaten – made of Grade 9+ wagyu topside from a Japanese bloodline!
Now as you can see, the prices only reflect the meat on the plate, so you are likely to need sides. The best side I tried was the Heirloom Tomatoes ($9.90) nearly has me weeping from actually receiving flavoursome tomatoes at long last.
A side of Walfdorf Salad ($6.90) with apple, walnuts, celery, grapefruit, lemon jam, cos and cider mayonnaise was made more interesting by the addition of grilled dates. It looked good, but turned out to be a little bland as we progressed.
David Clarke's ice-cream experience from Quay shows in the house-churned ice-cream selection. The wonderful crème fraiche flavour was my favourite. If you get Three Scoops ($12.90) you can also include the heavenly young coconut sorbet, and perhaps our waitress's favourite Franjelico which had unfortunately sold out before we got to it. It was devoured too quickly for a photo, but rest assured it looked as good as it tasted (presented with a piece of honeycomb and a jug of unnecessary but delicious Belgian chocolate sauce).
Add to the package a lovely (if a shade windy) courtyard with al fresco dining possibilities with a great view of the lovely lozenge shaped Renzo Piano designed building; or a sexy cow-print private dining room; and it's a damn attractive place to consume well-cooked, tasty meat.
25 Bligh Street, Sydney
Ph: (1300) 246 748