This week I ate steak

At the Steak Ministry in Glen Waverley www.steakministry.com.au and thought a lot about the rise of steakhouses. Or rather, the new style of steakhouse. The older style is exemplified by Vlado’s http://www.vlados.com.au which has been going for decades, most successfully. It’s the place for steak, only steak (though there is a choice of cuts and sizes), with salad, and sausages to start, and pancakes to finish. There are other versions (notably Stefan’s at 305 Whitehorse Road, North Balwyn, and Charcoal Grill on the Hill at 289 High Street, Kew) but Vlado’s has the edge.

The newer style of steakhouse has a broader menu, and makes more of its suppliers. The Point at Albert Park was such a place, especially when Scott Pickett was the chef. It was known as a steak restaurant, and won lots of awards, but there was a great deal else to choose from. Rockpool at Crown is a very particular example of a steakhouse http://www.rockpool.com/rockpoolbarandgrillmelbourne  but I’ve found it variable, especially in terms of service, and the bill always makes me raise my eyebrows.

The strength of Steak Ministry – or one of them – is its location. Suburban restaurants have been looking really good over the last year or two. The best of them fit brilliantly into their location, and understand their market. Steak Ministry’s owners have other businesses in the area, and the chef is Chris Wade, an extremely capable man with broad experience. The restaurant is coming up for its first birthday. The decor is unfussy, with lots of timber (most of it recycled) and warm lighting, the staff are friendly and skilled, the wine list excellent reat and agreeably priced. Fundamentally, this is a restaurant for meat eaters, but there are a couple of concessions – an elegantly presented mushroom salad among the starters, a couple of fish and seafood dishes. The steaks are mainly grass fed, and there is a range of Wagyu steaks as well. There’s also a Tomahawk, that huge steak-on-the-bone that looks as if it should feed a family of six. Chris told me that in the last week, two people have ordered it and eaten it all by themselves. Normally it is shared by two or three.

L’Entrecote in South Yarra http://http://www.entrecote.com.au is still relatively new. Essentially, it’s steak – Hopkins River steak with a bit too much sauce and rather too many chips for my taste when I last ate there, but good quality. The breakfast menu runs until 3pm, and there is a bar menu as well, but otherwise, it’s the steak, with chips and salad, pretty good value at $39.

Other good places for steak? France-Soir http://france-soir.com.au in South Yarra isn’t a steak restaurant at all, but the scotch fillet here is a beauty. Meat of great flavour, served with frites and some salad. Is there something about French restaurants? Bistro Thierry http://www.bistrothierry.com also serves excellent steaks – fillet, bavette, and porterhouse. I think one of the reasons steak is so popular in such restaurants is that it is nearly impossible for domestic cooks to find meat of that quality.  .


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