The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - DINING - DES HOUGHTON

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.

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