Sleek and modern, Danish steakhouse chain, A Hereford Beefstouw does beautiful steaks and great wines in a funky laneway in the heart of Melbourne’s dining precinct.
Location: 22 Duckboard Pl, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9654 8297
A Hereford Beefstouw. It’s an unusual name, we agree. However, its origins make more sense when you realise that this is the Victorian outpost of a Danish Chain. What’s more, the “Stouw” bit actually means an open-planned room attached to the kitchen. So it makes total sense that all of the eateries in the group feature an open kitchen that can be viewed by customers as they eat.
It’s all part of A Hereford Beefstouw’s more causal approach to a what a steakhouse should be.
Like many people, I love a good slab of red meat every now and then. I’m also a fan of tradition, when the mood takes me. However, I find the very older male energy of some steak restaurants a bit overbearing. In fact, many feel more like Gentlemens’ Clubs than somewhere to grab dinner.
This was highlighted when I was looking for steakhouse that my kids (18 & 21) would feel comfortable in. Both were adamant that they didn’t want to go anywhere too old-fashioned or ‘full-on’. With this in mind, A Hereford Beefstouw fit the bill perfectly. Slotted away at the end of a suitably hip Melbourne laneway, it has a mellow wine bar at the front and a laid back dining room to the rear.
It feels cosmopolitan and relaxed, rather than stuffy.
And the food and wine are pretty good too.
Another very cool laneway find is Serai Melbourne where Filipino over fire is the order of the day.
Duckboard Place is such an iconic Melbourne laneway.
Tucked in between Trinket Bar Melbourne and Tazio Italian, the sloping alley disappears into murky gloom. Round the corner at the bottom, and to the right of Modern Indian gem Tonka, you’ll find A Hereford Beefstouw.
First impressions are that it could be a wine bar rather than a steakhouse. There’s a large window at the front of the building and through it we can see a huge, warmly lit refrigerator of wine bottles and plenty of wooden bar stools.
Once inside, it’s clear that this is merely one part of the establishment, though we make a note to pop back some other time for a drink or 2.
We’re led through the bar, past a bright, buzzing open kitchen where the grills are working over time, and into a long rustic-chic room.
It’s minimal, but cosy. And somehow manages to feel… Scandinavian. Scrubbed, pale wood flooring and tables, an exposed brick wall on one side and pale yellow one on the other, the most striking feature is the window punctuating the end of the room. If you’ve never dined at the bottom of Duckboard Place, then you’ve been missing out. The establishments at the furthest point of the laneway look out over unexpected trees.
Another thing that sets this steakhouse apart is a commitment to art and design. At the Melbourne restaurant, this is interpreted in the clean lines of the modern room and the modern paintings hung at the top end of the dining room.
Whilst Dry-Aged Beef is the real attraction at A Hereford Beefstouw, it isn’t the only thing on the menu. Thankfully.
The Entrees comprise of a small, but tasty list of options.
There’s a nod to the northern European heritage of the restaurant chain in their Gravad Lax Salmon, Sweet Mustard Sauce & Rye Bread ($25). Meanwhile, for the vegetarians who find themselves marooned in a steakhouse, there’s Capsicum & Onion Croquettes, Mozzarella Cheese & Herb Salad ($25).
As is so often the case, we are drawn to the Duck Liver Parfait, Cognac Jelly, Apple Chutney & Toasted Brioche ($25). It is pleasant, though not a stand out dish like the Whipped Chicken Liver Pate Banh Mi Finger that we recently ate at New Quarter.
But let’s be honest. What we’d really come for was the red meat component of the meal.
A wee paragraph at the head of the menu explains the care that A Hereford Beefstouw go to to ensure the quality of their beef. We are assured that the Grainfed Beef enjoy a special blend of Australian cereals for at least 150 days. In addition, the Dry Aged Cuts are hung for a minimum of 40 days.
After a chat with our very helpful waitperson, we decide on a Ribeye 300g ($56) and a Rump Steak 350g ($52) from along with 2 Rib Racks ($54). The young lady in our party expresses her individuality with a Barramundi Fillet ($43) – just because she can.
Both the steaks are superb. Tender and flavoursome, they arrive perfectly medium rare – as expected – with an alluring char. They have also clearly been rested as there’s no bloody leakage when we cut into them. Happy days!
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The Rib Rack is similarly appetising. Shiny with a house made glaze, the meat is virtually sliding off the bone as the plate hits the table. They are juicy and melting flavoursome. And the aroma coming off of them is so good that we all immediately offer a portion of our own protein in exchange for a forkful of the luscious flesh.
Rounding out our Mains, I must say that the Barramundi with a Fennel, Radish & Herb Salad was butter-soft and succulent. It was also so yummy that no one other the person who had ordered it got to eat it. And there’s no higher accolade than that.
Adelaide also has a branch of A Hereford Beefstouw. For a rundown of this restaurant and more, see our recommendations for the Best Steak and Steak Houses in Adelaide.
Beer Battered Chips ($8). Obviously. After all, if Steak and Chips is good enough for the French, who am I to argue? And as we hoped, they deliver the perfect carby crunch.
Under duress, the kids allow us to order the Fried Cauliflower & Roasted Broccoli with a Cauliflower Puree ($15). It is a great bowl of healthiness – the crisp vegetal flavours cutting the iron-forward richness of the steaks. Similarly, the light, balanced Cesar Salad ($15) – Cos Lettuce, Parmesan Cheese & Rosemary Croutons – is refreshing and a good contrast to the heavier aspects of the meal.
Interestingly, A Hereford Beefstouw takes genuine pride in its carefully curated Wine List. Indeed, the steakhouse chain creates a unique Wine List for each of their restaurants. This results a diverse range of bottles from a number of countries with France, Spain, The US, Italy and, of course, Australia all under consideration.
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The wine connoisseur in our midst chose a Shiraz – and was very happy with our waiter’s suggestion.
The younger members of our party opted for a Cosmo and Mojito Cocktail and were up for sharing – enough said.
If you love a fancy tipple, check out our guide to the Best Cocktail Bars in Melbourne
If you’re looking for excellent steak – and a deeply considered wine list – try A Hereford Beefstouw. Especially if you’re looking for a more modern, relaxed take on the traditional steakhouse.