59 Napier Street Footscray
Adam and I ventured into the inner west for dinner tonight. A convenient fifteen minute walk from my house turned out to be more like half an hour, so I was late for our date and I found Adam outside on the pavement. The bar at the Station is still a bit of a standard suburban Melbourne hotel, and a little less fragrant than the boy is used to… I concurred when I wandered in, I have to say. I would not have been too relaxed sipping a nice glass of red at the bar by myself.
Undeterred, we presented ourselves at the dining room which upon first glance appeared a little crowded, a little noisy, a little lacking in atmosphere. We are usually more interested in the gossip and the wine than the food, but we both noticed it. A glass of 2004 McLaren Vale Brini shiraz grenache soothed us as we perused the menu: heavy on the steaks, and to my alarm very heavy on the seafood as starters. Adam does not do fish. Ever.
He reassured me that he would not starve, and we both chose soup for starter: mine a provencal fish soup and his a traditional French onion soup. Both were excellent.
Our charming Mancunian waiter took us through the complexities of a menu with no less than eight steaks on there. The provenance of each was listed along with where it was farmed, what it was fed, and the length of time it was aged. The only thing we were not privy to was the beast’s name.
Eventually we both settled upon the same thing: a 250g Sher Wagyu (Victoria) 450 day grain fed wagyu rostbiff. This means it comes from a cow from a particular breed which has been fed on a special grain diet for at least 450 days. A rostbiff cut is part of the rump – the rump without the cap, if that means anything to you.
For the uninitiated, wagyu beef is from a breed of cattle that is genetically predisposed to intense marbling of the flesh, giving the steak an incredible tenderness and flavour. I had never eaten one until tonight.
Our steaks were served simply, with a generous green salad, some chunky chips and some bearnaise and pepper sauces on the side. They did not disappoint. Without exception I can say this this was simply the best steak I have ever eaten. Adam reckoned a steak he’d been served in Chicago some months earlier came pretty close, but he was deeply impressed too.
We ate slowly, carefully. I put my knife and fork down after every second mouthful. This was a meal not to be rushed.
After carefully enjoying every morsel, we were tempted by dessert. My bread and butter pudding was feted as one of the best desserts in Melbourne: it was very good, but not the best I’ve had. Adam’s dessert special of pannacotta, berry compote and blood orange sorbet went down a treat. Again, he savoured every mouthful, and declared it the best dessert he had ever had. The strange tiny red berry-type things in his compote we could not identify until the waiter explained that it was sago.
Food aside, the decor of the restaurant area was fine, but the layout of the tables was a little institutional. It needs something to break up the monotony of three simple columns of tables, and maybe make things a bit more intimate at least in places. Some more comfortable seating would also be welcomed. Both us had numb backsides after the first hour.
Not bad for a simple straightforward suburban hotel, even if the new owner used to be the executive chef at the Botanical. If they could just make the bar more welcoming to diners before and after dinner, they will really be onto a winner.