How much is too much to pay for a meal in your city? I’m talking a good meal out, breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, it doesn’t matter. You just tell me how much you’d pay on it.
If you don’t live in Sydney, to put it in universal terms, I live in a swanky ‘inner city’ neighbourhood where brunch reigns supreme, where we happily eat it every weekend as if our lives depend on it. We’ll begrudgingly wait in line for an hour for it. We’ll happily fork out two hours’s worth of our weekly salary on someone else to cook our eggs and make our almond milk double shot latte with a packet of Equal religiously every Saturday, and if we’re wealthier than most, on Sunday too.
Sydney is synonymous with expensive, stressful and the city where no millennial will singlehandedly earn enough money in their lifetime to own their own property (unless they have old money or double income with their partner). So we have this saying, we’ll trade the house for avocado toast instead. And boy, do we milk this trend in all our nervous subconsciousness, knowing very well this is our most tangible reward in modern-day life. To brunch.
My point is, really, that brunch isn’t worth the $40 I paid for it last week. So when I was invited to The Meat & Wine Co. last week, I promised myself I’d only write about eateries I’d actually eat at myself, and only ones that are affordable.
I arrived at the grand Parramatta venue and was met with tables decorated beautifully with hints of gold, moody lighting, brown leather booths and shelves and shelves of wine. This would be an ideal date for an anniversary or romantic night out.
We were seated and were introduced to how the restaurant chain came about. I learnt some fun facts I would’ve never suspected of too. Did you know know The Meat & Wine Co. will gift you your very own steak knife with your name carved into it if you become a member? I love that! Or that the Monte beef used for their eye fillet steaks is exclusively produced for the company! Pretty cool stuff yo.The menu started with a bunch of colourful starters, plated beautifully on Stone Age-style ceramic plates. Wagyu Tartare with smoked yolk, green dressing and lavosh was fresh and unctuous, with a zingy, garlicky flavour coming through the dressing. Next was Octopus – shaved octopus, chive, peri and lemon. This was one of the most memorable of the night for me – the octopus was so thinly sliced, it wasn’t chewy but melted into a tasty puddle on your tongue with some spice coming through and a good whack of lemon soon after. Gorgeous presentation and super tasty. Salmon – whisky cured salmon, roe and cauliflower custard cream was silky and delicate, with the custard cream blanketing the liquor-tainted salmon with its creamy texture and mellow flavour. And who doesn’t love roe sprinkled all over a dish? Don’t answer that if you have seafood allergies.Entrée orders were placed soon after, and the Pork Belly – chilli lime pork belly with adzuki bean, cos, puffed crackling, kimchi crumb and ponzu dressing was the dish I went with. The pork belly was tender and flavourful but a little too fatty for me, so the tangy ponzu was a good respite from the richness of the meat. The crackling was more garnish than crunch but this could’ve just been a one-off scenario!I was most looking forward to mains though, as steak is where it’s at here so I was pretty excited. Most of the table went for the 350g portion (food bloggers are pretty greedy!) but I knew the Monte Grain-fed 200g with crunchy chips was going to be the better option. It is, after all, meat designed with The Meat & Wine Co.’s specific desires in mind. Potato is my spirit vegetable, so I was keen as ever for the crunchy chips (if you go for the salad option as a side, stop reading now, I don’t approve of your life choices, friend).When my steak came out, my facial expression said, ‘I don’t have much exciting shit going on in my life so I’m way too stoked to see a peace of meat and some fries’ but don’t judge, that’s not why you’re here! My beautiful eye fillet was the epitome of what you want in a steak – visible grill marks, nice caramelisation on the exterior and when cut into, the meat was a perfect medium rare and not tough in the slightest. The decades’ old basting recipe does something amazing to the meat too, it coats it in a sweet sauciness that goes amazingly with the savouriness of meat. And the fries? YAAAAM. What are fries if not crunchy? These were delicious and salted nicely – you won’t get bored of potato when it’s this good.
I didn’t stick around for dessert as sadly, gluten is not my friend, but my food blogger counterparts told me the Apple Pie – fried apple pastry, apple toffee cream, sour apple gel, mascarpone ice cream and smoked maple syrup was out. of. this. world. It sounded it too! When my tummy can stomach wheat again, it’ll be the first dessert I’ll want to try on their menu and I can’t wait for that day.
What I loved a lot about this restaurant was that not only was it brimming with loud, satisfied diners but meals came out quite soon after ordering which is a big tick for a paying customer.
Well done The Meat & Wine Co., you’ve been around for years and yet never disappoint. And as for Sydneysiders, brunch is a lot easier to make at home than a good steak – don’t forget it y’all. So go check out this Sydney institution, you won’t regret it.
The Hungry Plum dined as a guest of The Meat & Wine Co., all opinions expressed herein are my own.