Steer Bar & Grill (Olsen Hotel)

4 January 2011
Steer Bar & Grill @ 637-641 Chapel Street, South Yarra

We were recently invited to a bloggers' dinner at Steer Bar & Grill in South Yarra.  The invitation email from Steer's creative director, Yossi Klein, was deliberately mysterious - promising a unique and exciting evening with innovative food, matching novel wines, and a "special announcement".  It was an email that successfully stirred our curiosity and one that ensured the attendance of many.

To our great surprise, and evidently to the surprise of many of our fellow diners, what Steer had planned for us was a six course tasting menu, complete with a preliminary cocktail, an amuse bouche, a mid-meal palate cleanser, petit fours and matching wines.  In short, it appeared that Steer had pulled out all stops in an effort to impress us.  On the whole, it seems that Steer was successful in its endeavour.

Our meal proceeded as follows.

Caipirinha on arrival

Amuse bouche of wagyu short ribs with soy glaze and smoked eel accompanied by a NV Familia Schroeder Brut-Rosé 'Rosa de Los Ventos'

Port Lincoln octopus with a mixed melon terrine, squid ink gnocchi and black garlic puree accompanied by a 2006 Rockford Semillion 'Local Growers'

Acaraje - a deconstruction of a traditional Brazilian street food: fried black-eyed bean beignets, soft shell crab legs, prawns and a cashew and shrimp paste accompanied by a 2007 Laplace Pacherenc du Vic Bilh Sec

Assiette of mushrooms consisting of pickled, braised and sautéed wild and seasonal mushrooms, duxelle tortellini and field mushroom puree accompanied by a 1962 Carlo Peregrino Marsala Vergine Riserva

                                Palate cleanser of acai sorbet

Roasted duck breast with caramelised witlof, confit duck leg boudin, smoked Brazil nut and quinoa accompanied by a 2005 Martinus Estate Pinot Noir

Churrasco - a traditional Brazil barbecue with appropriate garnishes accompanied by a 2005 Miolo 'Gran Lovara'

Petit gateau de dulce de leche - a caramel fondant with pistachio and goiabada accompanied by a NV Chambers Muscadelle 'Old Vine' Classic

Petit fours of brigadeiro accompanied by a digestive of 1998 Chiyo Shuzo 'Genshu Koshu'

It was a meal filled with highlights.  From the wonderful smokiness of the eel in the amuse bouche, to the aromatic black garlic puree and counterbalancing sweet melon terrine, to the powerfully flavoured and richly textured assiette of mushrooms - probably the pick of the dishes of the night - to the decadent coconut brigadiero petit fours.  The dishes were of uniformly high quality and were characterised by bold and inspiring flavours. 

To be fair, there were also areas where, subjectively, the dishes could have been improved upon.  For instance, the wagyu short ribs were not as succulent and as "melt in the mouth" as one would expect of truly premium wagyu, the squid ink gnocchi were more conformed paste than gnocchi in texture, the duck breast, while accompanied by a rich flavoursome sauce, retained little of the underlying duck flavour and the Brazilian barbecue, anticipated to be the highlight of the evening, consisted of tender but slightly underseasoned and generally underflavoured beef.  These were however, minor detractions from an enjoyable meal and a memorable experience.
The meal was a captivating glimpse at Brazilian / Australian fusion food - a glimpse which suggests that the marriage can certainly be successful.  It was a meal which highlighted head chef Stacy Thompson's creativity and culinary skills and sommelier Raul Moreno Yague's considerable expertise.

The "special announcement" turned out to be an offer by Steer to take on or, as Yossi put it, a challenge for, one or two volunteers to work full time for a two week period, to experience and see first hand all aspects of the restaurant business and to learn from knowledgeable and experienced operators.  While it was clearly a unique opportunity, the work schedules of our fellow diners clearly limited the number of willing volunteers.  It was agreed that the bloggers would revert with the identities of the lucky participants for the challenge - it remains to be seen who those participants are but their report on their experiences is keenly anticipated.

We thank Yossi, Raul, Stacy and the rest of the Steer team for their generosity and for hosting a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Food: 6.5
Service: N/A*
Value: N/A*
Overall: N/A*

* As this was a special event for bloggers, service and value cannot properly be assessed and so ratings for those aspects, and hence an overall rating for the restaurant, cannot be provided.  

-BC & PiCi-

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