Friday, 18 July 2014

Black Hide Steakhouse - the newest Gambaro restaurant

I'd known there was going to be a new steakhouse opening up in Brisbane's Caxton Street and I'd heard that it was going to be set up by the Gambaro family, most famously known for their seafood restaurant.  What surprised me when I saw the restaurant take shape along one of Brisbane's oldest party streets was the name, Cut Steakhouse and Tapas. Now, if you're a meat aficionado or love your steak restaurants, you might have become very excited indeed.  That name is very well known around the country and the world - firstly Sydney has it's well know 'The Cut bar and grill' (see post here) and internationally renowned chef Wolfgang Puck has 'Cut' (see post here).

I'll admit to being a little disappointed when I realised that neither of these two institutions was coming to Brisbane, in particular 'Cut by Wolfgang Puck'.  It wasn't long after opening that the Caxton Street version of the Cut changed it's name to the Black Hide Steakhouse by Gambaro.  

I'm definitely a huge carnivore and I was always going to get along and check out the Black Hide Steakhouse, but it wasn't until the recent Brisbane Times Good Food Guide list of new hatted restaurants that I was sparked into action.  Not too many steak restaurants in Brisbane have chefs hats, so I wanted to get in and see if the Black Hide was indeed better than some of my other favourite steak joints (see list here).  

We'd decided to get along for a mid week visit, knowing that Caxton Street can get a little crazy on the weekends.  While it's close enough for us to walk, we hopped in the car and cruised over to the Barracks, where we could score a free park (as long as we were less than two hours).  Black Hide is only a quick stroll from the Barracks and we were soon standing out the front of a very masculine looking restaurant.  The wood facade gave the restaurant a modern feel, which was reinforced once we walked inside to the modern looking fit out, with big bar down one side and dining tables, the other. The feeling of masculinity only increased once we realised that apart from one waitress, SC was the only female in evidence.

We were shown to our table and given a couple of menus to look over. The menu itself had a nice range of share plates to whet the appetite before jumping into the star of the show - beef.  I was immediately impressed with the selection of beef available, which the restaurant had secured with an exclusive partnership with Stanbroke, the worlds largest privately owned beef company.  Importantly, 100% of the Black Hide beef was from a cattle farm in North Queensland.  

To go along with the finest beef that Queensland has to offer, Black Hide had secured the services of Head Chef, Lukas McEwan (formerly of Rockpool, Sydney) and an impressive Montague broiler grill, especially imported from the US of A.  Now, I don't know grills much past my Beef Eater BBQ on my balcony but the Black Hide bad-boy-of-grills has temperatures of up to 2500ºF and intense infrared heat waves that generates a perfect result every time.  It was fair to say that I was looking forward to testing that theory out but first, we had some starters.

There were two starters that stood out for us, so naturally we both had a battle of wills to see who would get  their preference.  In the end we decided that sharing was the best form of caring and happily went the share plate option.  First up was the steak tartare with cornichons, chilli, eschallot and crostini. The wonderfully symmetrical raw beef came presented with a quaint little quails egg right in the middle and the the accompaniments along the side, waiting to be mixed in for taste.  It's unusual to see a steak tartare with chilli, so we were a little circumspect when mixing the lot together, just starting with a small amount.  The thin pieces of crostini were perfect for spreading the tartare mix on to provide a little texture to go along with the beautifully flavoured raw meat.  If you've wanted to try a steak tartare before and have been a little nervous, the Black Hide version would be a great starting point.

Our other share plate was the Spanish inspired albondigas meatballs with chickpeas, tomato and chorizo.  Often with meatballs, there is a problem with overcooking and dryness.  There was no such problem here, the chorizo flavoured meatballs were lovely and moist.  Best of all, the tomato and chickpea sauce was delicate and well balanced, with the chickpeas providing an extra texture which somehow added to the complexity of the dish.  Simple meatballs, no...  Sensational meatballs, YES.

We'd been surprised with the generosity of the starters, both being exceedingly large, especially when considering their prices.  It was time for the main course to begin and we were both already starting to feel a little full.  I was beginning to regret that we'd actually ordered sides to go along with our steaks and when the hand cut fat chips with aioli and the sautéed mushrooms with garlic were placed on the table, I knew we'd gone too far.  Luckily, both the chips and the mushrooms were delicious but I felt guilty that we didn't eat them all.

Leaving room for our steaks was an imperative.  SC had gone with the 250 gram certified organic eye fillet and the huge piece of beef looked much bigger than 250 grams.  The eye fillet was cooked a perfect medium rare and came accompanied by wagyu fat roasted royal blue potatoes with rosemary and garlic.  There was a lot of food on the plate and I ended up eating about a third of the steak to help out my beloved.  The eye fillet was incredibly tender but as is the case with eye fillet, it was a milder flavoured beef.  To combat the fact, SC had ordered the mushroom sauce on the side and found that dipping the beef into the sauce was a great way to combine the meaty and earthy flavours together.

I'd gone for the full bodied 250 gram wagyu rump cap, which being part of the animal that works harder than other parts is generally tougher but more flavoursome.  Being a wagyu, our waitress recommended that the steak be cooked to medium instead of medium rare, which would allow the fat to be cooked thoroughly.  When I compared the size of SC's 250 gram steak to mine, I think she got the better end of the deal (even though I ate quite a bit of hers) but in the flavour stakes (pun), mine was a clear winner.  It was beautiful and still really tender, so the cooking process on the bad-boy-grill had done wonders.  I'd arranged for a béarnaise sauce with my beef and the slightly buttery, slightly tart sauce was a match made in heaven.

It was time for dessert and SC decided that she would opt out.  The thought had never entered my mind and when it was time to order, I'd just asked Vincent, the amazing French restaurant manager to go with the rhubarb and vanilla creme brûlée.  I could tell I'd made the right choice and Vincent told me as much, so I was looking forward to a nice sweet way to finish our very meaty meal.  As with everything we'd seen at Black Hide, the creme brûlée was massive too!  I've never had a rhubarb and vanilla creme brûlée but after sampling this, I can't imagine why there are not more about.  The balance of flavours between the stewed rhubarb and the sweet custard was perfect and after I'd finished and Vincent was taking the plates away, he admitted that they'd experimented with the flavour ratios a couple of times.

We had not finished a meal and been as completely stuffed in a long time.  The food at Black Hide had not only been beautifully and lovingly prepared but had been generous as well, maybe too generous.  But it all made sense really...  As we'd sat consuming our dinner, every group that had come into the restaurant had been big burly blokes, all of whom looked like they could eat a cow themselves.  It sure did reinforce our initial thought that Black Hide was a very manly place to eat.

I was really impressed with both the service and the food and it all clicked as to why the Black Hide Steak Restaurant by Gambaro had won a chefs hat.  The impeccably dressed staff looked the real deal with their crisp black clothing and black aprons.  They were friendly too, our waitress for the night never stopped smiling and restaurant manager Vincent checking in that everything was juuuust right.

After we'd paid up and were about to leave, Vincent could see that we were looking through to the private dining room, so we were given a tour of the rest of the restaurant by our waitress.  The private dining room was awesome, with black hide leather on the walls,  What was most awesome about the place was the drawers in one of the walls that held specially designed steak knives for special guests and regulars, they even had names engraved on them.  Now that's personalised service and a key reason why Black Hide is now one of the premier steak restaurants in the country.  Wolfgang Puck, you'd better watch out!

The chorizo flavoured meatballs with a wonderful tomato and chickpea sauce
The eye filled with mushroom sauce and wagyu fat roasted potato
There was a lot of food on our table
Really good chips that were crunchy on the outside and almost creamy inside
There was a very masculine feel to the restaurant
Individual drawers with specially made steak knives -  reason to become a regular
Some photos of the Stanbroke farm
There is a lot of land on the Stanbroke farm.  I wonder how the cows know to walk single file?

Black Hide Steakhouse on UrbanspoonBlack Hide Steakhouse

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