I remember the days when a $7 steak lunch was my idea of a great lunch. I was a little apprehensive about eating uncooked meat so it had to be cooked well done. It was also a time where I was lazy and experimented with microwaving a steak. Thankfully, a few years and several culinary adventures later, those days are long gone. These days, medium rare is the only way to go and $7 barely covers the glass of red to go with the steak.
One of the things I’ve learnt about steak, is the all important cut. Depending on which country you’re in, different countries can recognize the same part of the cow under different names but there’s a diagram that highlights the parts of a cow and the types of steaks sourced from each area. It’s more along the lines of an American definition but it’s a helpful guide. One of my favourite cuts of meat is the fillet but more on that later.
The next step is to find a place that is well versed in quality. A well cooked, tasty piece of steak that doesn’t cost an arm or a leg can be a challenge to find but I decided to go to an old trusty steakhouse called Meat & Wine Co used to do a solid job.
Opened for business in the year 2000, I was surprised to find they only had 4 venues nationally. I thought it was a widespread chain restaurant! With 2 branches in Sydney, 2 in Melbourne and plans to open another 1 in Melbourne (South Yarra, Nov 15) and 1 in the ACT (Kingstone Foreshore, Mar 16), it’s small enough to assume quality hasn’t been compromised for mass production.
The Business Lunch Menu including a glass of red sounded good so the 2 course option gets selected with starters and a steak to follow. I have a quick chat to the waiter and discover the Szechuan Calamari and Bruschetta are two of their best starters.
The Bruschetta made a superb entrance and looked great. However, the flavour was quite subtle, it was nice and tasted very healthy but nothing spectacular like my eyes led me to believe.
The Calamari on the other hand was phenomenal. Hard crunchy batter on the outside complemented with tender, juicy meat in the center. I could have had a large serving and walked out satisfied. I decide that if I ever come back, this dish would always feature in my order.
Now it was time for the steaks. I chose a 150 day aged Monte Black Fillet with a 2+ Marble rating. The menu provides more details behind the “Monte” part.
“Monte is the premium line of beef exclusive to The Meat & Wine Co. Monte Beef is sourced from only premium breeders of the highest quality MSA graded Angus cattle carefully reared and grazed on selected farms throughout Australia and monitored from the paddock to the plate using a process of stringent quality checks.”
This gives me assurance that the steaks uphold a certain level of quality but two factors additional factors come into play. Cut and Marbling score.
The general rule about cuts of steak is the further from the horns or hoof (neck and the legs which are the most active parts), the more tender the meat. Using the visual diagram from earlier, the fillet comes from the tenderloin, situated along the back and is the most tender part of the cow.
It’s also worthwhile considering the Marbling score as it can enhance the tenderness, juiciness and flavour of a steak. The higher the rating, the higher the amount of intramuscular fat speckled through the meat giving it a greater flavour potential. The marble score of 2+ isn’t particularly high but for $35 with another course and a glass of wine, I take my chances.
I glide my knife through the meat and see the pink layer within. Success! The meat is extremely well cooked. There are a few at the table who think their medium steak was cooked medium well but my medium rare was perfect. The flavour was great too and with a Cabernet Sauvignon in tow, I feel I’ve made the right order.
Service wise, our food took a noticeably long time to arrive but I dined in a group of 10 people so this was some what understandable. Value wise, Mine & Wine Co have steaks that cost as much as $59, so without going too overboard on price, this Business Lunch Menu is great value for money while delivering a solid steak and a very strong Calamari dish.
Note: As at 20/11/2015, it seems as though this menu is called the “Christmas Business Lunch Menu” where other cuts of beef are available, valid Mon to Wed 12 – 4pm, 2/3/4 courses for $45/$55/$65
L1, 31 Wheat Road, IMAX Theatre Complex, Darling Harbour, Sydney NSW 2000
Written by Brian (@brhinos), Sydney