Lively spot to get beefed up
It’s a sparkling day at Brisbane’s inner-city oasis, South Bank. Buskers busk, swimmers lounge in the pool and the river glitters beyond the manmade beach and boardwalk. I’m particularly happy because I’m watching all this from the balcony of the newly opened Live Fire Steak Bar, awaiting a range of starters from the beef-centric menu.
The multi-level venue has a series of decks that overlook the pool, some of which are bordered by planter boxes full of fresh herbs. A bar on the lower level leads up to the indoor/outdoor dining space. The kitchen opens onto this and has a huge, open window in its back wall.
Oysters topped with lime pearls and mignonette dressing (shallots and vinegar) are fresh as daisies, as is the chimichurri and mojo sauce that comes with the wagyu kebabs. Lime, coriander and gentle spices cut through the richness of the medium-rare beef, then we graze on a salad of heirloom tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella while we wait for our steaks to appear. There’s not enough basil on the salad, so I reach into the garden behind me and pluck off some leaves and they pep things up nicely.
Steak-wise, you can choose from grass-fed cuts from Cape Grim in Tassie, Rangers Valley (NSW) grain-fed, and “wagyu Kobe” with a marble score of 9+. As for sides, hand-cut chips, buttered green beans with almonds and onion rings sound good but more so the rosemary and confit garlic, and we can’t pass on the crispy brussels sprouts with a pomegranate reduction, roasted and almost caramelised, charry outer leaves peeling away to reveal softer centres and the pomegranate seeds adding a citrusy tang. Wagyu skirt steak ( above), in medium-rare medallions, is a rich cut of meat and as tender as the cut gets. It comes with a pepper sauce, a delicious, sticky jus that just lacks the peppercorn punch. My grass-fed sirloin has been smoked and this adds another dimension. Slices of sweet and savoury potato bake and another set of sides (trussed tomato and scorched onion tart, truffled chanterelle mushroom risotto, smoked oxtail and roasted bone marrow with celeriac and apple remoulade) accompany the steaks, but we’ve almost done our dash.
For dessert, deconstructed banoffee pie has appeal but we share a Valrhona chocolate tart with cherry chocolate soil and lemon curd ice-cream. We love the buried cherries and the crazy-rich chocolate centre but can’t quite locate the lemon in the curd ice-cream, though it’s creamy, home-style and very rich.
The service is chilled and helpful, and the waft of grilling meat that follows us out the door adds to the feeling we’ve just left a friends’ barbecue.