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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.