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Showing posts with label steakhouse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label steakhouse. Show all posts

Saturday, January 2, 2016

London: Delicious Steak @ Hawksmoor, Spitalfields

Everyone tell’s a story about a good steak they had or at least they thought they had.  But what is a good steak.  Is it that thumb thick cut that you got from your butcher?  Or perhaps that $89.99 price per kg for a grade 5. Well, those are simply just the beginning.  From the ageing process, to the thickness of the pan and even the temperature of the steak prior to cooking, making the perfect steak is an art that can only be improved and never be mastered.

During my trip to London, I decided to take a little trip to Hawksmoor Spitalfields which was a short walk from the Liverpool Street Station. This establishment known for their steak caught my attention with its rave reviews.  So what do I eat?  All of their beefy offerings!  To start was a roasted bone marrow with caramelised onions.

A simple dish that is so easy to mess up.  At Hawksmoor the marrow was  creamy and the caramelised onions sweet.  The mixture spread like butter on the toasted sourdough.  While it was tasty, I felt like the marrow could do with more basic seasoning to avoid it tasting “raw”.

After that comes the highlight.  The steaks at Hawksmoor are not what one would call cheap and definitely is a place reserved for special occasions.  Starting from £8 per kg up to £14, Hawksmoor specialises in large cut steaks.  The best cuts of steak to cook!   This was the 1kg cut.

The steaks at Hawksmoor are specially selected from their butcher before they are aged to maturity.  One can tell that Hawksmoor does it well just by looking at the intensity of colour of the meat.   Pair that visual pleasure with the robust bovine kick really made it a sensational meat.  The high heat used also produced a consistent char on the surface giving it a nice “frying” that resonates beautiful smokiness.  Over all,  this was a seriously good steak.

For our sides we ordered some shrooms, triple cooked chips and mac & cheese.  Oozy unhealthy goodness!

While the mac & cheese really tasted good, I cannot help but feel that Rockpool makes a better one.  Then comes  the triple cooked chips, which Hawksmoor superbly well.  The crispness of the chips were unquestionable and dipping them in Heinz ketchup brought back childhood memories! 

Hawksmoor was a nice eat but was it the best steak?  Definitely not.  But like what Rockpool is to Australia, that is what Hawksmoor is to England.  When it comes to dollar value, service and ambience, I feel like the upmarket feel and service quality I receive at Rockpool trumped the one at Hawksmoor.  Putting both steaks side by side, thing then gets a little complicated.  While both had intense flavours, I felt that Hawksmoor charred their steaks better!  So which will I return for?  Hah, I am a glutton so I will return to both any day for a good bite!

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Melbourne: Perfect Steaks @ Rockpool Bar and Grill, Crown Melbourne

Rockpool Bar and Grill in Perth was my first massive steak crush.  Between its bolder flavoured grain-fed or the more mellow, lighter tasting grass-fed beef, there was always something for everyone.  As Australia’s first internationally acclaimed restaurant, I have always wondered how does Rockpool Bar and Grill in Melbourne compare to the one back home in Perth.  On a cool Sunday night, I decide to take a trip to Bovine Heaven.  Whilst I have no pictures of the entrance, the original Rockpool Bar and Grill in Melbourne sports the same long hallway graced by cuts of beef being dry-aged.  A true sight to behold!  Its interior was darker than the establishment in Perth but sets the mood for a good night out.

But food beyond anything else is key to my verdict of any restaurant.  Why should it not be after all?  Our starter was a Wagyu Bolognese.  A classic favourite since my first trip to Rockpool back in Perth!  Here, the waiter takes courtesy of plating a main size one into two appetiser sized ones to avoid the fuss of splitting.
With no questions, the mince melts in your mouth whilst the sauce was just perfect.  But the pasta was not as thin as the one in Perth!  

The grain-fed rib eye.
Its dark red middle is symbolic of why dry-aged beef is such a priceless commodity among foodies and beef lovers alike!  The flavour is just yums and the way Rockpool cooks the steak always elevates the joy of eating it.  At Rockpool, a perfectly charred steak that never fails to hit the sweet spot is a norm.  Tender, cooked to order and the temperature of frying the steak is just spot on!  For my condiments, I chose the Dijon Mustard and Harissa as both help bring the best out of the steak!  But if you are not a fan of mild mustard, the spice laden Harissa might just be your thing.

No meal at Rockpool is ever complete without its famed Mac n Cheese side.  And what can I say?  Fat on fat on fat?  Nobody got time for concerns!  It was yummy!  But for some reason though, the charm it first had on me 3 years ago had seemed to worn off.  It no longer felt all that special.. and I wonder why!

We also ordered a side of chopped salad which looked absolutely rubbish after being tossed in the dressing but here is a picture of the oven-roasted pumpkin and sweet potatoes topped with a roasted garlic yoghurt.  This was really nice! It was my second time having it at Rockpool and I still cannot get over the way the garlicky condiment harmonises with the sweet edible tuber!

A sweet ending of what I can only remember now as some sort of cheese cake with strawberries, meringue and what I believe instead of a biscuit base, was grated coconut?  Hahaha I really was so full at this point that sharing a dessert was all my stomach can afford.  
But I have to say, it was an impressive slice this one.  I was quite hesitant to follow XL’s choice of cake because cheesecakes had always been a fairly “heavy” dessert but this felt nothing like the conventional cheesecakes!  Instead it was rather refreshing and led the dinner to a good ending!

A meal at any Rockpool establishment comes with a tag that most find unjustifiable.  But coming here once a year for that once in a blue moon treat makes a lot of sense to me.  You get the prime service, absolutely delicious steaks and over all, an amazing meal.  The food here does not carry the cues of modern molecular gastronomy and lacks the necessary elements of surprise of fine dining but what Rockpool does is make the classic staples like steak & chips, absolutely spectacular.  I mean after all lets be honest to ourselves, how many times have you been served an absolutely rubbish $30 steak? 1 too many I’d say.

Rockpool Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bites: Trustee Bar & Bistro @ Perth (revisited)

Having had a stellar meal just a few months back, Yv had massive cravings for the lovely Chateaubriand we had before.  Since she was going back to Malaysia, we decided to pay a visit.  Coming in for our reservation at 8.30pm, our seats were still occupied but we decided that we were not that hungry and could wait.  However, the noise in the establishment was just atrocious which would probably be a Friday night norm.   Nonetheless, we were not any quieter anyways haha.  We ordered a whole lot of food to share with the Chateaubriand the centerpiece of our meal.
First up the table were 3 serves each of the liver parfait and tuna steak tartare.
The parfait was OK, but with the relatively strong contention in the parfait category around town I could barely praise the offerings on the table.  It was creamy as, but somehow the accompaniments did not feel as strong as the ones I get from Cantina 663 or Old Crow.  So for me, it did not leave the best impression for sure. And while I was expecting huge flavors from the fish tartare, it turned out OK but nothing much to rave about.  The highlight was probably the unique addition of the sorbet which was rather nice but other than that it did not quite hit the sweet spot.
Next up was the shiitake and prawn linguine.  The appearance was rustic with the ingredients all chopped up into random odds and sods but hmmm.  In my first bite, it struck me that the flavors were rather bland.  If anything at all brought this dish to life, it was the parsley which was extremely refreshing as well as the occasional burst of shitake juices which have soaked up all the flavors of the pasta sauce.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe also called another beef pasta which was significantly better than the prawn one but still lacked an impact big enough to change the course of the night.  What exactly do I mean?  Well read up my meal at No.4 Blake Street where I had one of the best pasta courses which totally set my horrendous meal on a road to recovery. See my review on No.4 Blake Street here.
Last main for the night were two humungous serves of Chateaubriand. It came in two large trays looking as glorious as it did before. But, does it taste as good? While I would love to say yes, I could not. The beef in terms of cooking came out perfect. The middle was still red and moist while the outside has some really beautiful charred marks. But something about the beef today.. it felt quite bland. I am not sure whether Trustee usually dry age their beef slightly before cooking, but it just did not taste as good as it did before. Some even found the middle to be a little mushy. Is that even possible?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen comes the sides of bread and marrow.  The bread were quite nice little things to eat but it just did not go well with the beef.  The marry my old favourite were plenty this time but tasted horribly raw this time.  All those who came with me to the Trustee before remembered it to be very nice, with all the crumbs and herbs stuff onto it.  This time, it was just appalling.
By the end of the night we had ordered 6 appetizers, 4 pastas, 2 chateaubriands and a bill of large numbers for this table of 8.  Satisfied we were not. In fact, while many have lamented the service, it was pretty good as we only came in at 8.30pm and by 9.30pm, most had already left by then.  But the food, oh boy!  I really wished it could be better.  If I had to choose the star for the night, it would be a little bit of everything.  Some parts of the beef were stellar, but the whole cube was not.  I love the shitakes in the linguine as well as the prawns bits but not the mildly bitter leaves which I forgot to mention earlier.  The sorbet on the tuna tartare was nice, but the seasoning was plain.   In the end, it was hard to really say and to be honest with everything so half-baked, the night ended in a mess.  But was it as good of an eat as it was a few months back?  Definitely NO.  A big NO.  Thankfully as always, the company was awesome!  Which brings me to the ultimate question of my visit to the Trustee Bar & Bistro, am I still loving it?  While it will be too hard to write them off completely, I am high skeptical about a place when I have to pay top dollar to roll the dice, and hence, I will feel less interested to pay a visit in the future.  This meal was totally different compared to my stellar meal back in May.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Bites: The Trustee Bar & Bistro @ Perth CBD

Having heard rave reviews about this place in town since its opening last year made this place the perfect dinner venue for us hungry people.  Some things said by my accomplices include good value, lovely venue and the perfect steak.  Coming in at 7.30pm, the Trustee is an extremely busy place but hidden behind a curtain is a dimly lit section for dinners.  However, other venues are available too within the Trustee such as the bistro and the garden bar.   My pick would be the garden as it is airy, green and very nice to relax with great food on a Friday night.
Service was impeccable and our section waiter greeted us with a smile.  He was cheerful and sociable in way where he puts effort into building warmth unlike the inconsistent service faced at some restaurants. These for me are little things which make night outs great!
The starters for the night include the little darling’s French Onion soup served with a crisp toast and a roasted marrow @ $14.50.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith the onion caramelized perfectly, its natural sweetness is what makes a delicious soup.  Bone marrow was a bonus and the dipping bread was the perfect accompaniment for her soup.  I am not exactly sure what a real onion soup should taste like because everyone creates a different kind of soup, but the one at Trustee was warm, hearty and for a wet Friday night, absolutely yum!  The one at Guillaume was definitely too overpowering for her taste buds!
For me, I chose the twice baked gruyere soufflé @ $24.50.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have had heaps of chocolate soufflé before but never once a cheese soufflé.  But my expectation would not differ.  This was light in flavor but a bit dense on the inside.  The fragrant of the gruyere was mildly floating in the air but its taste did not lack intensity.  More importantly, this delicious hot pot of melted cheese did not make me feel sick when I reached the bottom!
Fishman ordered the roasted bone marrow @ $22.00OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
His dish too was nice with roasted mushroom and gremolata topping his roasted bone marrow.  It was another fine tasting dish although he would have wanted more marrow on the bone.  It was a little miniscule to enjoy!  I do not blame him especially when the entire marrow would have been no more than a tablespoon full! As for Yvonne, she ordered the  pork belly parcels, apple salad and fried shallots @ $19.  This for us was only an OK dish.  Its flavors were good but fell short of next level awesomeness.  Its flavors were not special enough and maybe was because its Asian influence did not bowl us over as we have had better before.
As we finished our entrees, we enjoyed being in the quaint dining area which is quite well insulated from the hustle and bustle of the trustee bars.  One the walls were stained mirrors and some really old school light decorations which had an Oriental touch hung off the high ceilings. Felt like a dining a derelict home @@!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter a 20 minute wait, our mains were out.  We had a whole lot of food to share tonight.  The Chateaubriand for $95 gets you 700grams of thick cut beef fillet, thick cut chips, bourguignon mushrooms, béarnaise sauce, a salad and some other carbohydrates which I suspect were potato cakes!  As recommended by the waiter, the meat should be cooked medium-rare.  Maybe I can take back my word about steaks falling in the medium price range because this perfectly cooked chateaubriand was so tender it melted in our mouths! Close enough :P! Yet it was such a lean cut with very little or no sinewy bits at all!  No wonder it is said that in the right hands, the Chateaubriand is a delicious cut of steak .  If I had no main except this to share, I would still walk away full as it was a very generous serve of meat.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was the braised organic beef shin gnocchi @ $36.50.  Definitely one of the most expensive gnocchi in town.  Is this worth the money?  I reckon every single bit.  The gnocchi while not of the fluffy or light consistency, it was still delicious without being too doughy.  It also had beautiful charred outer bits with a very nice smell from the oil it was cooked in!  What was not so much of a hype was the beef shin.  It had great flavors but in terms of texture, it was just rough and not something I would like.  This gnocchi to me was good enough to be a dish even without the beef shin!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next main we ordered to share was the pressed confit lamb, split pea and cauliflower purée.  Sitting on the plate, I cannot help but feel how this dish looked rustic in presentation but at the same time implemented a modern technique like the mint jelly.  While this all looked very nice, I found myself not too impressed with the lamb.  Confit in my term is strong flavor as it is cooked in it own fat but somehow, I would have very much preferred something more like a rack of lamb.  While this dish might have been executed well, it was just not my thing!  So next time, definitely no more confit.   Overall it was ok, but did not wow-ed anyone around the table.   
The Trustee tonight gave us a very good meal.  With hit and misses apparent in a few dishes, we were very satisfied with 4 out of the 7 dishes we called.  While that barely makes it a passable score, it was the addition of the great service that captured our fondness for the place.  Pair it with interiors of various feeling from a derelict house to an airy garden or a modern bistro, one cannot help but feel impressed.   But one thing was for sure tonight.  The lack of appreciation for some of the main would have came from our tummies which were already so full from the entrée that we wasted the confit lamb and the gnocchi. It was a terrible waste and something we all felt sorry for.  Perhaps next time just 4 appetizers and a Chateaubriand so that the four of us can share desserts?  I have seen reviews and really, the ice cream pops look so tempting!  Asking the homies whether they were keen for a re-visit, I noted their nods of approval!  Definitely coming back ;)! 
The Trustee Bar and Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bites: Fibber McGee’s @ Leedervile

In a country, that prides itself with one of the best beef in the world, Australia certainly does not disappoint.  In my latest foodie visit, I decided to give Fibber McGee’s in Leederville a try.  This Irish pub has operated for more than a decade with its very own farm (according to its website).  All cows are butchered and dry-aged in house, meaning diners should only expect the best.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Using the entertainment book, my sister and I both ordered the humungous dry-aged rib eye with a side vegetables and fried goodies which include tempura onion rings and chips!  Believe it or not, the discount is a buy 1 free one which made our steaks only $25 dollars each.  It was such a steal!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Generous Dry Aged  Rib Eye which came weighing in at 500grams.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious sides which includes the vegetables, tempura onion rings and chips (can’t fault with store bought ones), I had a question about the steak.  What constitutes a good dry aged steak?  For me, two important requirement, first is the robustness of the flavour thanks to the higher concentration of blood and reduced moisture.  Dry aging lets the beef naturally reduce its moisture (water content) through evaporation.  The next important thing is the increase in tenderness due to the deterioration of chewy muscles intertwining the meat layers as the meats due to natural enzymes digesting them.  So how does Fibber McGee’s stack up against my two requirement.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My sister and I had our steaks cooked to two style, one was medium rare and the other medium.  My medium steak felt slightly overdone as all it had in the middle was a very pale pink colour.  I was hoping to see a little darker shade of pink but it still works fine for me.  In terms of tenderness, the steak was spot on.  Cooking large slices of steak is usually impossible to get even cooking but this was perfectly executed.  However, my major complain is that the flavour of the beef felt lacking in richness.  I am not sure what Rockpool does to their steaks but theirs carry a certain flavour and taste to their beef which makes it even more tempting to eat!  Sister’s beef on the other hand, was deliciously red on the inside and for me, this is the maximum cooking that dry aged steaks should be prepared to.  Medium Rare.   But then again, like my steak, I believe the richness the steak flavour still felt lacking.


At the end of the night, we barely finished half of our meal as sis decided to add a side of mash which was velvety smooth and yummy.  With so much leftovers, it would be a waste to throw it away such good meat although sceptics even questioned among themselves why would we even bring steaks back when they were pretty “positive” that it was going to get thrown away.  So to those disbelievers, a steak can be used for more than one purpose.  In this case, the steak was still absolutely tender when I did a quick pan fry to make my steak sandwich!  :P!


Last but not the least, I found the service here pretty slow although there were so few of us.  On the positive side, at leas the waiters were keen to serve!


Fibber McGee’s to me is a pretty damn good steakhouse that charges decent money for quality steak.  With such places around, is there even a need for places like Hog Breath?  I doubt it.  If you have a budget and want a bite of luxury, Fibber McGee’s definitely is definitely the place to be.  In fact, 3 people can easily share two serves.    However, if you are an extremely picky eater who wants nothing but the best, the steaks at Rockpool still holds a place dear to my heart.  Its steaks are tip top with no expenses spared in making it absolutely the best.  The catch?  $60-120 dollars for a piece with no sides.



Fibber McGee's on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bites: Rockpool Bar and Grill Perth @ Burswood

With her brother and sister visiting us from Adelaide, the little darling and I decided to organise a special meal.  Hearing how Adelaide has such good food had us feel the need to make sure that our dinner did not come up short in anyway.  For this occasion, the little darling decided on paying Rockpool a second visit. 
The famous Rockpool entrace!

After being seated and the menu explained, we were served complimentary bread with sea salt and butter.  While the butter was rich, the bread was slightly harder than what I would have preferred!  Having some salt though, seemed to enrich the taste of the butter and bread altogether!
Complimentary bread and butter!

As there were quite a few of us that night, we shared a few appetizers.  It was a pretty good suggestion by our waiter Simon as sharing allowed us to try and taste the different things Rockpool had to offer.

First up was a warm Salad of Wood Fired Grilled Quail with Smoky Tomatoes, Olives and Herbs.
What its reads is what you get.  The quail for me was cooked perfectly with its meat still slightly pink at the bone.  I also felt that the mixture of herbs really worked well together.  But the highlight for me were the tomatoes which had the acidity and sweetness which binds all the ingredients together.  Unfortunately though, the baby olives are never my favourite ingredients as they carry a distinct taste which I reckon is an acquired one.

Next was the Wagyu Bolognese with Hand Cut Fettuccine.
Just like the one I had before two months ago, this was faultless in every level.  Fettuccine was silky smooth and rolled out thin but not thin enough to break messily.  This was just superb.  Meat was juicy with a hint of crunchiness which till today is still a mystery for me.  Bolognese sauce was rich but not the usual thick and sticky one would expect.  This was super yums!

The next appetizer was the Charcoal Roast Chorizo, Potato and White Beans
Despite being sautéed in heaps of oil, it was all good. Caramelized onions were all the hype in that dish. Chorizos were OK while the potato and white beans provided a good medium to have the onions and chorizos with. What I did not enjoy was the bread that came with it.  Too dry that it did not even help absorb the charcoal flavour of the dish.  Still a recommended appetizer!

Charcoal Roast King Prawns, Split and Marinated.
These prawns were highly recommended by our waiter that night.  Nevertheless, it failed to ‘wow’ me because despite being tasty, it was nothing new.  Prawns came out small albeit being called king prawns.  Marinade was delicious but it was all too common.  This felt like something my aunty would do better than what I had at Rockpool.  While it was delicious, it was to me, too simple.

After having 5 appetizers to share, we then waited for our mains.  While doing so, we decided to have a little picture session among ourselves considering that we had the whole VIP room to ourselves :)!
Xin Woei, Yvonne, Nee Nee and Fishman!

Little darling’s brother and sister, Ern Ser and Audrey with her!

After a good chat, our mains were served.
For the little darling, she ordered a Seared King Prawns with Goats Cheese Tortellini, Burnt Butter, Pine Nuts and Raisins.  It was so rich.  Every bite was filled with creamy cheese which was for most people on the table, over the top.  While flavours had a hint of sweetness, saltiness and fruitiness, none was enough to tone down the stench of the goat’s cheese.  It was ok for me but the rest of the people, they still could not accept it.

4 cuts of steak ranging from scotch fillet to rib eye as well as the T-bone!   In a restaurant that prides itself for butchering and dry ageing their beef in house, the quality of the steak surely did not disappoint.  With the scotch fillet and rib-eye cooked to medium, the melt in your mouth feel was sensational!  No wonder Rockpool has been branded as a bovine heaven by some.  Unfortunately though, the T-Bones were cooked to medium-well done which resulted in a tougher than desired steak.  So what would I recommend?  For a budget, definitely the Cape Grim Dry Aged 36 Month Old  Grass Fed Kettle’s 240gm Scotch Fillet.  For indulgence, non-other than the $120 full blood Wagyu Fillet!

On top of the steak, we also ordered sides to share.
Onion rings came out XXX-Large but it was inconsistently crunchy!  Would not complain for 8 bucks though!

Cauliflower and Cheese Gratin was yummy and tasty! It would have been heaps better if the cauliflower was cook through!  I thought that it could have been in the oven for a tad longer!

Royal Blue Potatoes Sautéed in Wagyu Fat with Rosemary and Garlic was full flavoured!  Very tasty morsel to go with the steak!

“Mac and Cheese”! This was the ugliest photo of the night but it was the best side for the night.  The sauce was to die for, the mac and cheese was baked to perfection with a crisp top! Totally yummy!

After stuffing ourselves with all the food, we moved on to the final phase of the night; DESSERT!  While we were close to ditching the dessert, the little darling thought otherwise. 
Nee nee and her sister ordered a Peanut, Caramel Chocolate Tart with Milk Ice Cream.  This beautiful dessert looks like a piece of art but in reality, it felt like a giant ‘pod chocolate’ with a scoop ice cream.   Inside, the caramel was slightly overpowering.  For me, the ratio felt quite disproportionate.  Too much caramel, but so little crust to go with.  As the waiter described it, this was really a monster by all means when it comes to dessert!

The Raspberry Mille Feuille was the little darling’s choice! Her request was sour and she got what she wanted.  Sandwiched between thin pieces of pastry was raspberries and cream before being top with a scoop of sorbet and gold. What was seriously sour on its first bite became deliciously fruity over time.  It was quite an outstanding dessert if you’d ask me!  Slight caramelisation of the pastry is just magic when you realise all the little attention to detail that was put into producing this lovely dessert!

For me, I chose Fig and Hazelnut Tart with White Clover Honey Mousse! The mousse was fragrant with a hint of honey on the tart.  Fresh fig slices were lined with carefully piped mousse over a sponge bed.  Smashing!  Nothing overly sweet or sickening.  The whole dessert was very refreshing and truthfully, it kept me wanting more.  This for me, was the best dessert of the night.  With fresh figs, hazelnut and the honey mousse so there was so much harmony in the ingredients leading up to dessert.  All of it together really;  felt quite mellow.

Overall, I found the meal to be consistent with what I had before.  The multi-award winning restaurant has had some rave reviews recently which to me was seemingly fair considering how our Valentines Day visit went pretty well before and speaking of impeccable service by the wait staff, they were every bit helpful.  While this was all very fancy and superb, it had me thinking from the perspective of just the food quality.   There was no doubt that the food tonight was yummy but if I had not shared my dishes tonight, it would easily cost something like 90-150 per head which is really costly.  For that sort of price there are heaps of other restaurants including Amúse, Jacksons, Nine Fine Food, Friends and so much more.  In places like that, $150 gets you a 7-10 course degustation with impeccable service too.  Would it really be worth it to go for Rockpool? My take? Yes.

Rockpool Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon