CITY STALWART RAISES STEAKS
It is my melancholy duty to report that NSW has won the first Steak of Origin.
It’s a contest I devised to pit Queensland beef against what I thought would be inferior cow from south of the border.
However my Mandalong grass-fed rib fillet ( pictured) from northern NSW ($41) packed a meaty, visceral uppercut while remaining preposterously tender and juicy. And it smelled of the lovely kikuyu and Rhodes grass pastures from where it came.
As scandalous as it sounds, my all-Queensland tasting panel unanimously judged Mandalong superior to our Darling Downs grain-fed wagyu striploin. ($44).
We also devoured the “Brekky Creek Classic” – a succulent eye fillet also from Queensland ($43), chargrilled to impart a smoky, hickory aroma.
I admit my Origin challenge was an inexact contest because we did not sample other great Queenslanders on the menu – especially the private-selection offerings from the famous Nolan family from Gympie. And I did not see any of Stanbroke Diamantina label beef on the menu. The Mandalong, nevertheless, was outstanding.
It is from a purebred animal that is a genetic amalgamation of Brahman, Charolais, British Whites and Shorthorn breeds.
We dined at the hotel’s Spanish Garden steakhouse, where 14 varieties of steaks are now available. There were 10 sauces to choose from. And you can create your own surf and turf by adding creamy garlic bugs ($15), garlic prawns ($10), and so on.
There is competition to produce great steaks and, despite that casual vibe, everything on the menu is subject to intense deliberation. And boy can they cook steaks.
The young sophisticate on my tasting panel ordered pepper sauce and mushroom sauce and mixed them to create a spicy melange that tasted better than it looked.
I opted for the old-fashioned coleslaw – an Idaho spud wrapped in foil – and was struck with a small wave of nostalgia when it arrived with a slice of raw tomato.
I’m certain I ordered the same sides in the ’80s. And the slaw still needs a better dressing – more lemon juice, perhaps.
We shared a dozen Pacific oysters to start and finished our feast sharing a flourless chocolate mousse cake which tasted like chocolate-flavoured putty. From an adequate wine list my companions sipped glasses of St Hallett Faith shiraz ($9.50) and Chris Ringland shiraz ($10).
The Brekky Creek is quintessentially Queensland and remains a kind of cultural museum. Visitors who have dropped in for a drink include everyone from Mikhail Gorbachev to Darren Lockyer, Greg Norman and Bob Hawke.