My approach to cooking steak usually involves buying whatever's on special, overcooking it until it resembles old carpet, and then failing to rescue the taste by drowning it in tomato sauce. Since discovering this cool Redfern gastropub, my approach has changed... now I leave it to the professionals at The Woolpack to fulfil my meat cravings with a grilled slab of what I'm convinced is Sydney's best steak.
Nutritionist and cattle farmer, James Bjorksten, is producing some of the best grass-fed beef I’ve eaten under the name of Hereford Red Beef. The cream coloured fat is simply magnificent, leading to a super-tasty steak that literally melts in your mouth.
Thirty minutes and thirty years from Sydney is a pub where strangers talk to one another, and Bar Manager John Mundy uses common sense and conversation to enforce the rule of law. Over a malty pint of Old Speckled Hen ($11.50) you might enquire after his glass jar of Pickled Eggs ($1.10/each).
You met him at Pony Dining, but now Chef Damian Heads is riding his own horse. Taking over the Neutral Bay Pony outpost, he’s created his own remarkably unpretentious bistro, despite the fancy Matthew Darwon fit-out featuring five kilometres of wood!
Despite riding up in the lift with a Leeloo lookalike, bumping into Curtis Stone in the hip QT lobby, then hearing that Luke Mangan frequents the bar for Chardonnay; I found this restaurant surprisingly approachable.
When other restaurant guests walk past and embarrass themselves with involuntary wows, you’ve won the meal lottery. Whilst intimidating, my mammoth Ribs Platter ($49) bearing two types of ribs (you want pork), appeals in a primal, hindbrain way.
If there’s a better pub steak in Sydney than this Rib-Eye on the Bone ($42), I haven’t found it. Believe me, this baby is worth the spend, arriving in a mountain of marrowbone, golden spuds and spinach, with anchovy and parsley butter on the side.
As a feminist, I am keen to see women aiming for high-level jobs, including those in professional kitchens, so I was disappointed to miss the launch of this year’s Tasting Success, a mentoring program for female apprentice chefs. The program’s co-founder and patron, Lyndey Milan, enjoys watching “the transformation and growth in confidence in our girls between their first interview and graduation”. The nine women involved in this years program will each receive 35 hours of mentoring by some of Sydney’s top chefs, including Sean Moran (Sean’s Panorama) and Peter Gilmore (Quay).
Mayday! Mayday! My partner is seriously considering having a Man Vs. Food moment at Essen Restaurant this month, during their Schnitzilla Challenge…
Steak has a new subterranean address. It’s not the usual penis temple either – illustrated by The Hon. Pru Goward, Minister for Women dining one table over. Though do expect to have to man-up to tackle Head Chef James Privett’s robust entrée of Roast Quail, Smoked Eel, Duck, Celeriac and Goat’s Cheese ($24).