The Point Albert Park

3 July 2010
The Point Albert Park
The Point @ Aquatic Drive, Albert Park Lake

Dining out is about more than just dishes of gastronomic excess. An inundation of meals consisting of foie gras, truffle, parfait this and confit that tends to leave one yearning for simpler, but ultimately no less satisfying, fare. One of the simplest and most profound joys in dining can often be found in a simple, well cooked, high quality cut of prime aged steak.

The Point has long been regarded as one of Melbourne's premier destinations for quality steak. As a point of distinction from traditional steakhouses, The Point seeks to provide a fine dining experience. Its emphasis on steaks is possibly a mere testament to its Tasman Group ownership.

Dining at The Point is particularly notable for its setting. The Point's dining room consists of a large airy space with floor to ceiling windows that provide a view of the picturesque Albert Park Lake. On the evening we visited The Point, the combination of Melbourne’s city lights and the reflections on the vast lake provided a resplendent backdrop against which to dine.

Unfortunately, service standards did not accord with the surrounds. The Point provided a number of disbelieving moments where a waiter would seemingly peer in our direction and then ignore our best attempts to attract his attention. When a member of the wait staff actually did attend to us, it was done with a sterility that suggested contempt rather than anything approaching hospitality or warmth.

Our experience at The Point only improved slightly with the arrival of the food. The beetroot and game tea slow cooked egg with iberico jamon and brioche crumbs was an interesting dish with flavours that were accentuated by the richness of the egg yolk which flowed freely when pierced. However, at $28 its value was questionable at best. The spatchcock 'au vin' with lardons, shallots, baby carrots and bordelaise vinaigrette was a pleasant dish. The spatchcock was well flavoured, having absorbed much of its braising stock, but was slightly overcooked with a dry powdery consistency. The $27 price tag for this small dish of what is essentially dry chicken and a few root vegetables seems excessive.

For the main course, we both ordered the beef tasting plate which consisted of five small portions of steak, one each of the Sher wagyu porterhouse, Hopkins River grain fed eye fillet, Hopkins River porterhouse, Cape Grim pasture fed eye fillet and Cape Grim porterhouse. The dish arrived with a variety of sauces and mustards. Unfortunately, the steaks that promised to be the highlight of the evening were ultimately found wanting.

The steaks vacillated around my requested medium rare preparation with some decidedly well done and others sufficiently rare that, to borrow a quote from Frasier, "a skilled veterinarian could still save it". The texture of the meat ranged from sinewy to dry and tough. All steaks desperately required the addition of sauces and condiments to provide flavour and moisture. The wagyu, although clearly the most flavoursome of the steaks, lacked the characteristic wagyu tenderness. In all, given the $56 price for the tasting plate, it is difficult to identify value.

Thankfully, The Point's desserts were much improved on the entrees and the mains. We had the chocolate and marshmallow souffle with brioche doughnut and bitter cocoa sorbet and a salted peanut mousse with banana caramel and popcorn ice cream. Both were well made and relatively large desserts that seemed good value at $18 and $17 respectively.

Although possibly exacerbated by our lofty expectations, The Point left us utterly disappointed. The airy magnificence of The Point's dining room contrasted markedly with the mediocre standard of its food. Self-proclaimed to be the "best steak restaurant in Victoria", The Point charges prices as if that were the case, but is seemingly unable to produce anything resembling a well cooked steak. It is difficult to see how The Point justifies the high accolades that it has garnered to date.

Food: 4
Service: 4
Value: 3

Overall: 4


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