Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Steak Frites by the Butchers Club - quality steaks at a price

We'd only just sat down at our table when an enthusiastic chef from the kitchen was presenting huge slabs of raw meat for our perusal.  We could have had the full story about dry aged beef, but since I knew a little bit of the process of dry ageing, we skipped the lecture.

That's the way they roll at the Butchers Club, to say they are fanatical about beef products might just be underselling the team's devotion to bringing top quality meat to Hong Kong.

The Butchers Club are very well known for their burgers and for a while there, I was pretty darn addicted to their fat and juicy hamburgers (see post here).  While their burgers are arguably the best in town, I was keen to find out just how devoted to the art-of-the-cow the Butchers Club were, and visiting their Steak Frites joint on Staunton Street seemed like the best way to find out.

I'd walked past the entrance to Steak Frites countless times on the way to work each morning, so was well acquainted with the entrance actually being around the corner in Aberdeen Street. Walking up the stairs into the dining room was an interesting experience, with decor that included exposed bricks and a rustic feel that was enhanced by the slight red glow of the numerous hanging lights.  The space was a little smaller and more intimate than I was expecting, the tables quite close together.  Our table afforded us a clear view of the kitchen and fridge stocked full with the specially acquired Australian and US beef.

Placemats at our tabled doubled as menus and we contemplated a decent range of choices that included grain fed 120+ Western Australian beef aged for 40 days, USDA Angus prime aged for 90 days and the very special Ranger's Valley 'Black Onyx' Angus grain fed for 300+ days and aged for 30 days.  Of course there was a supporting cast of appetisers and platters to share and a small number of desserts, but the menu left no doubt that the focus of the Butchers Club was the steak.

We kicked off our meal with a dozen of the Scottish oysters, thoughtfully halved so that the girl and I each had six fat and plum oysters shucked and ready for devouring.  Of course, jealously running my eye over the oysters, I noticed that SC's were a little larger and a little more plump than my half dozen.  The super fresh oysters had quite a high salinity levels and were lovely and salty, you could really taste the sea in every bite.  Accompanying the oysters was a sharp little vinaigrette, which paired wonderfully with the salty oysters and the girl even added a little tabasco to provide a little kick.

Next up was another little share plate of Ranger Valley wagyu carpaccio, which was served with a little arugula, parmesan and lemon olive oil.  The marble content was on display, with the white fatty deposits streaking through the bright red of the incredibly tender meat.  Lightly grilled on the outer edges, the carpaccio was a lot thicker than I've been used to, but the superior quality of the meat allowed the thicker cut to really shine.  The healthy amount of seasoning sprinkled over the meat, along with the slight peppery flavour of the olive oil ensured that the carpaccio was one of the better examples we'd come across.

Part of the gig at the Butchers Club is to provide a salad before the main show started and we were given the option of a honey mustard dressing or a blue cheese sauce on our lettuce wedge. Given my experience at Byron Hamburger's in the UK (see post here), I didn't hesitate to ask for the blue cheese sauce while the girl went with the honey mustard.  In case you've not had a lettuce wedge salad, you're missing out, they are superb.  A quarter of lettuce, drizzled in a sauce then showered with chunks of crisply bacon seems like a simple salad, but boy are they superb. I'd have loved to have seen a lot more blue cheese sauce on my lettuce, about half way through, I'd run out and it lost a little of it's impact.

We both kept the main simple, ordering the 300 gram Rangers Valley centre cut tenderloin, medium rare for myself with the girl committing a little bit of heresy and going for a medium.  Our huge steaks were presented on the expected wooden board with a handful of the Butchers Club's famous duck fat fries.  Before touching my steak, I jumped straight those wonderful thick cut fries with the golden and mostly crispy exterior and a soft and fluffy interior.  But I could only ignore the call of my beef for so long, and before I knew it my knife was gliding through the tender cut of beef like a hot knife through butter.  My steak was well cooked, seasoned to perfection and most importantly, had been rested 'juussst right'.

Tenderloin is not the strongest flavoured part of a cow, so they need to be cooked perfectly to be enjoyable and the Butchers Club clearly know a thing or two about cooking beef.  The steak was superb.

We'd done a silly thing though... You remember the Simpson's episode where Homer fills up on bread?  Well, there were some tasty baguette slices provided with the smoothest and creamiest truffle butter ever on our table, and, well, we almost filled up on the bread!  So were completely stuffed trying to finish off the huge steaks!

It stopped us from sampling one of the desserts of offer, but in all honesty, there were no options that enamoured us that much anyway.

The Butchers Club clearly know their way around a cow, in fact, they have many a poster on their walls showing just that.  The team have secured the best beef and are well adept at preparing it with love and respect.  The meal is a bit of a hike on the traditional 'steak and frites' on offer from likes of 'La Vache' (see post here), both in quality of the produce and the price of the meal, which has the potential to burn a hole in you're wallet.

I very much enjoyed our meal at the Butchers Club and I'm glad I went, but boy, those steaks are expensive, even by Hong Kong standards.  It's just a little hard for me to justify regularly visiting Steak Frites by the Butchers Club - I guess I'll just have to satisfy myself with their very beefy burgers!


It's all about the steak and the Butchers Club sure know their beef
The rustic but very 'red' interior of the Butchers Club

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