My uncle recently visited Melbourne from Chile I wanted to take him somewhere special for dinner in the city. When I asked him what he would like to eat, his answer was simple, “Steak, no salad”. We were already in South Wharf at the time and found ourselves wandering into The Meat Market at 53 South Wharf Drive, Docklands.
If the name of the restaurant isn’t enough of a hint about what is served here, then the enormous bulls head hanging over the kitchen should erase all doubt: they serve steak here. The kitchen is set right in the middle of the dining area, filling the entire room with the smell of cooking meat and occasional flare up. Before I turn off all vegetarians from coming here I’ll post a little spoiler and say that this isn’t all that they serve, and it’s not the only thing that they do well.
First up: the bread. A nice change from the standard roll with butter you spread on yourself, you get a small loaf of herbed buttered bread that tastes like it’s fresh from the oven. If you’re a fan of good bread like me then you’ll appreciate the small amount of extra effort put in here.
I describe this kind of ordering as “build your plate”, the steaks themselves come with your choice of sauce and a small side of salad and you then order your own sides of salad, chips or anything else. On this occasion we chose the hand cut chips with aioli, mixed leaf salad and baby spinach salad, the latter two kept away from my uncle. The sides were generous and the three of them were easily spread across six adults, but the main event is definitely the meat.
So how was the steak? In short- fantastic. I ordered mine medium rare with the red wine jus and they nailed it. The meat was still red and juicy, although unfortunately the above photo is a bit too dark to really show this. Considering Melbourne is a bit of a steak town I was genuinely surprised at the quality of the steak.
There was one other surprise as well: the vegetarian option. On the menu as “Vegetarian Choices: Always fresh – just tell chef what you feel like and we will make something special” it sounds somehow ominous. What does a meat carver know about vegetarian meals? The answer according to my mother-in-law was a lot, and it was delicious. She was asked what she liked and didn’t like, no to potatoes, yes to pumpkin and the above concoction came out. Judging by her reaction, and that it disappeared from her plate almost as fast as my steak off mine, shows that vegetarians are not forgotten there.
Overall a great meaty night in, and well recommended. Their website is here.