The Meat & Wine Co Canberra - Meat Night Out

6°c evening breeze, late autumn and a Thursday Meat Night Out to an African-Inspired premium steakhouse in civic, The Meat & Wine Co Canberra takes you on a journey for storytelling and to entertain. Also, let their carefully crafted aged meat have a voice to testify to your craving palate. mylifestylenews writes.

Every capital city and beyond will have specialist steak houses and Canberra is certainly no different. We love a good steak and leapt at the opportunity to try out The Meat & Wine Co in the heart of the city centre. Opened for just over a year, they are packed most nights and the location is perfect, in a new building right on the main thoroughfare of Constitution Avenue and London Circuit. It is difficult to miss if you look for the amazing 4.8-metre towering rusted iron statue of Andrew Inglis Clark on the corner which is quite easily identified from afar.

With the South African roots and heritage, storytelling through the tradition formed an essential part of the African legacy by passing the knowledge, culture, history and significant events from one generation to the next. The Meat & Wine Co has adapted these unforgotten aspects and is retelling its own tales through wine and dine entertaining that reflects the dining social values. While storytelling from this unique culture that happens at night, around a fire under the open sky and often in an enclosure, the interior design concept by Design Partnership Australia interprets the one-of-a-kind enclosure referred to as a Lapa, Boma or the homestead with details of designed elements referencing the South African heritage.

On arrival, the moment you enter and instantly get carried away by the cathedral height ceiling that creates one big central island or Boma that interprets in the middle of the space formed by the inward facing bench seat that is rolled up around the entire base of the Boma. The room is broken into an outer dining and an inner dining section – the outer being tables at the windows and the inner being delineated by banquette seating as the ‘border’ with small elegant solid wood grained tables populating the centre of this inner space. “Shongololo” – a Zulu word to describe this for Centipede and literally meaning “to roll up” for a more intimate gathering. This golden crown banquette encircled inner section is created and formed by a type of interior design that is composed of a series of individual handmade small sheets of fabric by African artisans, dipped, sculptured and layered in various shades of metallic gold, bronze, copper and silver colour treatments to give a rustic feel and create an ‘enclosure’ that reflects both the richness of the African soil and the abundance of minerals which you would find in villages from the promised land.

Reasonably congested in its footprint - in a deliberate way - yet it is a clever way to create some contrast of intimacy within such a high-ceilinged central island in the middle of the room. Table tops are simply set and of course there is the ubiquitous steak knife of serious proportions! The napkins are designed to look like butcher’s aprons and of excellent quality linen. The stylish leap of the interior creates a comfortable, not unduly formal, unpretentious ambience and a welcoming impression that pleases on all grounds. There is a display fridge behind the reception showing the various aged meats available which whets the appetite. While you look to the open kitchen all along the back wall as a focal point and there is a small bar to the right which is not for guests to sit at, but is a feature anyway.

If you are a serious steak or meat lover, you have come to the right place! The menu cover design features a striking photographic portrait of an African lady and once you start browsing the menu you will see ingredients that create flavours from that country too. The menu is sensibly crafted to focus on the grain fed aged cuts of meat. Being their speciality, you might be interested to know that they initially cover the meat in three possible ways – truffle butter, coffee infusion or black garlic and butter. With any of these three outer layers they let the meat age for 5 weeks into a specialized refrigerator then clean them up. The covering creates a more tender meat and the dry ageing process tenderises the meat and breaks down the fibres within, draws out moisture and intensifies the flavour for a unique taste profile that further enhances the beef. Their red meat is supplied from very specific farms in Victoria to ensure the provenance of the meat. As one would expect it is meant to create sensational flavour and we were about to put this to the test. 
Now if you are not an ardent meat lover, the menu is also well padded with non-steak favourites such as prawns, calamari and poultry skewers that encompass Harissa lamb, salmon and Portuguese chicken to name a few as well as a good variety of sides and salads combinations.

<Tasting Plate>
The tasting plate provides a good range of offerings and comprises of Boerewors sausages on a chakalaka sauce (a South Africa dipping sauce made from onions, tomatoes and beans) and accompanied with a corn and maize croquette, BBQ’d pork belly glazed with a good bit of char to the meat, Szechuan calamari and a classic bruschetta with superb flavours of the Roma tomatoes, avocado, oregano, basil and parmesan on excellent crunchy sourdough bread. Every bite was delicious and creates a contrasting palate to the other and it is a very good portion. The standout element was the pork belly – moist and tender, with the chargrilling and sympathetic glazing combing to achieve a very satisfying outcome. The Szechuan calamari was a little let down despite we were told that their very own recipe will have you come back for more. It was light and well coated and battered, deep-fried to the light crisp yet strangely bland, more of a texture than a flavour and lacking any kick from the Szechuan marinades as the name suggests to give prominence to this dish to be more salivating. As it is meant for 3-5 people, but be warned, very filling yet a great start to our evening.

<Portuguese Prawns>
The peri-peri marinated Portuguese prawns were also a well realised dish, glistening prawns cooked firm and that hint of spice along with seasoned barley, tomato and coriander salsa that gives a further taste and a great soft counterpoint textural complexity, resulting in a quite enjoyable dish.

<Portuguese Chicken Skewer>
The presentation is eye-catching and makes it easy for you to take a little at a time and drizzle lemon juice how you want. The meat was smoky, beautifully cooked with a suited marinade, tender and poignant in flavour and the accompanying fries were executed perfectly. Another spot on and a very moreish dish!

<Shorthorn New Yorker> 330g (grain fed 150 days)
The marble score 2+ meat gives the right amount of fats that melts and evenly immerses into the moist and tenderly cooked steak. Another delicious cut of meat that was quite satisfying on the palate and distinctly different in thickness and in its own way had an amazing depth of flavour and texture that made it stood out. 
It hits the marks and exactly what you would expect from a specialist steak house and it was slowly enjoyed with a peppercorn sauce and salad to maximum effect.

<Monte Rib-Eye> 300g (grain fed 120 days)
It is time to savour the premium tenderness and taste of expertly dry aged meat. This is a great cut of steak and cooked to perfection. The meat has a depth of flavour that one would expect with such provenance and the care and attention taken to age the meat. We chose a veal jus for the sauce and it was the perfect accompaniment along with the crunchy chips. Monte is the premium line of beef exclusively sourced for The Meat & Wine Co, while the char-grilling brings out the best flavour and texture and it could not be faulted! A carnivore’s delight!

<Ribs Platter>
This platter is a combination of beef and pork ribs and they are enormous and extremely generous in portion. Knowing that the bone takes a lot of space, these slow-cooked ribs still had a lot of meat packed with flavour, due to the hot char-grill finish along with the unique basting. Moist and tender, the sticky, saucy fun with a savoury appealing glazing outside seasons the soft, giving meat inside, begging to be torn from the bones and have your fingers ever ready by digging in at once. All meats come with a choice of crunchy chips or farm salad on the side at no extra cost. This was a meat lover’s dream and full marks all round!

As with any great restaurant menu, you want to ensure that your food can be enjoyed with a superb wine, but we opted for a wine pairing so that we got the benefit of more than one wine and knew that each accompanying glass would bring out the best of the flavours. Our chosen wines were a Petit Chablis and the South African Chocolate Block Shiraz and they were great wines that could easily be enjoyed with each dish accordingly at not a great cost.

We had a dedicated server for our table, Irene who attentively looked after us, although there were little details missed, such as replenishing our glasses and bottle of water as well as slices of lemons requested for the sparkling water that only turned up when the second bottle was delivered, so a keener eye would elevate our experience. We did arrive early and the restaurant was fully booked, but the host desk team were extremely polite and looked after us until our table was ready. The restaurant manager Rawshan was also doing the rounds and assisting us with questions and was a fount of knowledge.

They must be doing something right as they now have 12 outlets in five states throughout Australia and plans for more! If people are voting with their feet and with a story to tell for a quality top-grade steak accompanied by well-selected fine wines, The Meat & Wine Co Canberra is a big step up from some of the city’s outdated steakhouse establishments.

Tried & Tested:
Location: 4.5/5
Design & Decor: 4.5/5
Food & Beverage: 4.5/5
Service: 3.5/5
Value For Money: 4.5/5
Experience: 4/5

The Meat & Wine Co Canberra
1 Constitution Ave Constitution Pl,
Ground Level, Canberra
ACT, Australia
Tel: +61 2 5134 5988

Reviews are based on actual day of visit and experience. mylifestylenews reserves the right of final decision in case of any disputes. All images are photographed by mylifestylenews team without any photoshop enhancement and are the property owned by mylifestylenews unless otherwise stated. 


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