Meat & Wine Co, Darling Harbour

Lavish dinners to celebrate Christmas are a tradition at my workplace. And the 2014 Christmas dinner (now almost two months ago) was no exception. Having discovered private rooms at Meat and Wine Co get booked out weeks in advance during the Christmas period, we made reservations some 3 months ahead this year. It's smoky and noisy in the main area of the restaurant at Darling Harbour due to the semi open kitchen, so a private room makes it easier for big groups to hear each other and enjoy themselves.

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We have a cheese board to start off.

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The four choices for entree were 1) beetroot carpaccio, 2) Portuguese prawns, 3) high country pork belly and 4) beetroot carpaccio.

I love pork belly, so it wasn't much of a choice. The high country pork belly was 'a char grilled strip of belly caramelised in palm sugar, chilli and lime. Served with a fresh snow pea shoot and carrot salad. Finished with crispy crackling, peanut oil and a kaffir lime dressing.'

The pork belly was juicy and tender. It doesn't come close to the best pork belly I've had or am even used to, but that's only because those instances of pork belly rank quite high up on my list of tasty foods. I'd have liked more crackling, though. What was on the plate was a small slither that was super hard to the teeth (so hard it past the point of crispy). 

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The four choices for mains were 1) 300g Monte Wagyu Black Fillet, 2) 300g Monte Wagyu Black Rib Eye, 3) Rockling and 4) Chicken fillet. I choose the Monte Wagyu Black Rib Eye (grain fed 450D, MB 6+) with a side of chips and mushroom sauce.

The steak was smokey and cooked to perfection as you'd expect. It was beautifully marbled throughout. If I hadn't just come back from eating melt-in-your-mouth Hida beef in Takayama, Japan, this would be some of the most tender beef I've eaten. As it stands though, it was probably still the most of expensive steak I've eaten. The mushroom sauce went well with the beef and had actual slices of mushroom, and the chips were just as I like them - crispy on the outside with oh so fluffy innards.

Two meat dishes back to back... Many of our stomachs (including mine) were starting to reach our limits by now. It's always a good sign of the food when you have food left of your plate but you can't eat any more bites even though you'd dearly love to.

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The three choices for dessert were 1) creme brulee, 2) pannacotta and 3) chocolate ganache.

I chose the chocolate ganache which was a 'Belgium chocolate ganache tart peanut and sunflower seed tuile, peanut butter caramel and bee pollen'.

I always tell people that dessert goes into a separate stomach. It sure does, because I managed to find space for this.  The highlight was the crispy tuile. The chocolate ganache in the tart also hit the right notes - dark enough without being bitter bitter or too sweet. The peanut butter caramel was interesting and tasty but much too heavy for dessert after two meat dishes.

Eating until our stomachs burst is also a tradition for Christmas dinners at my workplace, and indeed, the best way to finish the year on a high note. 

Meat & Wine Co is located at Level 1, 31 Wheat Road, Sydney NSW 2000.