15 May 2010
Charcoal Grill on the Hill @ 289 High Street, Kew
In recent times, the trend in fine dining has been towards simple food that allows the fundamental quality of core ingredients to speak for themselves. What could be simpler then a perfectly cooked and well seasoned piece of premium aged beef?
Charcoal Grill on the Hill has long been a favourite of mine. I have fond memories of visiting this restaurant in my adolescence and eagerly devouring their 900 gram scotch fillets. What amazes me to this day is the mastery with which the steak is cooked. Imagine if you will, an inch thick cut of beef that is large enough to cover most of an A4 sheet of paper and that is perfectly medium rare from end to end. That is culinary skill that I could only dream of recreating at home.
Charcoal Grill epitomises the concept of a serious steakhouse and is not for the feint hearted. From the imposing display fridge that sits at the front of the premises to the hefty steak knives at the table, Charcoal Grill exudes seriousness about its steak.
Carrying on the theme, the limited menu is also indicative of Charcoal Grill's seriousness; vegetarians need not apply. All premium cuts are available in sizes from 200 grams to 900 grams. They are able to accommodate a more voracious appetite should those not be sufficient. However, keep in mind that steaks are relatively expensive. On this occasion, the 300 gram scotch fillet was priced at $45 with $16 per additional 100 grams. Thus, at over $70, my 500 gram steak is relatively expensive by Melbourne standards.
As the restaurant name would suggest, the steaks are cooked over a charcoal grill and in a manner that brazenly disregards the cardinal rule of turning once and once only. The steaks arrive at the table, lightly charred on the surface and glistening with juice. They are cooked to perfection in accordance with a diner's request. On this occasion, my flawless medium rare steak billowed with juice as I cut into it. Impeccably seasoned, it is a testament to the flavour of the steak that our mustard condiments remained untouched throughout the meal. The sides of tart cabbage salad and chips play a distinct second fiddle to the main course steak.
Similarly, the entrees and desserts at Charcoal Grill are mere distractions to the steak, albeit respectable ones. The cevapcici beef and lamb sausages are meaty and full of smoky flavour; a superb Charcoal Grill staple. The duck sausage we ordered was not quite of the same standard but was serviceable nonetheless. For dessert, the sticky date pudding was, as described, unusually light and fluffy and a well made example of the classic dessert. On the other hand, the vanilla ice cream with home made chocolate sauce was average and somewhat overpriced at $11
To be unequivocal, a Charcoal Grill on the Hill steak is, by some distance, the finest steak I have ever consumed. It is also one of the most expensive. However, it is truly a case of a premium price for a premium product. From my own experience, each visit has left me eagerly anticipating the next.
If you have not tried Charcoal Grill and you enjoy a good steak, I have only one word of advice for you. Go.