Meatmaiden Steakhouse – The Space
So when his 20th birthday came round, I booked our family a table at the Meatmaiden Steakhouse in the Melbourne CBD. And I’m pleased to report that we were all very happy that I did.
If there is a more Melbourne spot to tuck into a Southern Ranges Eye Fillet (4+ Score) or indulge in a slab of Wagyu Rump (6+ Score) than the Meatmaiden Steakhouse, I’ve yet to dine there.
A name sign in red lighting is all that marks the restaurant’s presence at pavement level on Little Collins St, for the delights of this restaurants are all subterranean. Well, of course it is – this is Melbourne, after all. And what could be more Melbourne than to descend down clanking metal stairs, into a dimly lit basement restaurant?
Push through the doors at the bottom of the stairs and you find yourself in a surprisingly large dining space. To the right of the entrance, a meat cabinet displays cuts of ageing beef. Always a promising sight for those who’ve come in search of flavoursome steaks.
On the left, there’s a long bar and counter top. The word HEART is emblazoned in black capitals on red lighting cubes suspended overhead. The room itself is packed with tables and the wall to the right is lined with booths.
On the night we went, the eatery was busy and buzzing – despite it being a chilly Wednesday. Perhaps the wintery weather had reminded the mainly 30-40 age group clientele that nothing keeps the cold out like a chunk of protein and bowl of gooey, piquant mac ‘n’ cheese?
MeatMaiden – The Food
Perhaps it’s time to confess.
This was not my first time at Meatmaiden Steakhouse. I ate a meal there when it first opened back in 2014. And whilst I had certainly enjoyed my succulent Steak and crunchy Hand-Cut Chips, it was memories of the Mac Cheese Gratin that really stayed with me. Yep. I know it’s a humble dish, but a good mac ‘n’ cheese is a thing of beauty. And I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.
However, for most, red meat is the drawcard here and it runs through the menu.
So there are Fried Zucchini Flowers, Ricotta, and Lemon Hollandaise and Grilled Octopus, Potato Aioli and Nashville Sauce in the Starters. But there’s also Burnt Ends, Crispy Onion, BBQ and Horseradish.
At first glance the Mains section is alarmingly light on options. A 20-Hour Smoked Wagyu Brisket, Rum Barbecue and Pickles sits beside a Triple-Cooked Crispy Half Chicken with Chilli Vinegar and a John Dory, Grilled Clams and Smoked Fish Veloute. Is that all?!
But there’s no need to panic. There’s a dedicated Steaks menu of O’Connor Porterhouse On Bone (3+ Score) and Dry-Aged O’Connor Rib Eye (3+ Score) to balance out the Eye Fillet and Wagyu Rump mentioned above. Finally, there’s also a Weekly Special Cut.
Sauces are an additional $4 and include a Wild Mushroom and intriguing sounding Beef Fat Bearnaise.
Amongst the Sides there’s Roasted Cauliflower with Bone Marrow Jus and Charred Greens, Provolone and Salsa Verde. And Hand-Cut Chips, of course.
And did I mention the Mac Cheese Gratin? I think I did. Well if you really want to push the boat out there’s even a deluxe version of this homely winner featuring Lobster and Bisque. Be still my heart!
The Dessert list is brief. Just a Rum Creme Caramel paired with a Pineapple Sorbet and a Milk Chocolate Mousse with Sour Cherry and Beer Caramel.
What We Ate – Maiden’s Mood
As it was a ‘school night’ we decided to skip cobbling together our own meal and instead settled on the dramatically named Maiden’s Mood.
This is a $80 per head sharing menu, selected by the chef. With 3 Entrees, 2 Mains and 3 Sides it sounded like the perfect solution to navigating the menu. Even better, it promised to include something from both the smoker and the grill, giving us the best of both worlds.
First up, we each knocked back a plump oyster topped with a charred watermelon granita. The soft, briny oyster went well with the refreshing watermelon ice, though I couldn’t detect much ‘char’. That said, the Birthday Boy, who isn’t a huge fan of seafood, downed his and declared it ‘OK’. Rare praise for a mollusc.
Reuben Croquettes appeared next, along with a Chopped Wagyu Tartare, XO Sauce, Yolk and Crisps.
The ‘Croquettes were wolfed down. But then, you can’t go far wrong making a bechamel, flecking it with corned beef, crumbing it and tossing it in a deep fat fryer. Especially when young adults are around.
The Tartare was a more challenging proposition and the combination of raw beef and raw egg yolk raised a few eyebrows. However, within minutes everyone was busily shovelling piquant morsels of Wagyu into their mouths via the crisps.
Our first course dispatched, we were all feeling much perkier. Being halfway through our opening cocktails/mocktails also helped. Hubby and I had polished off our Basil Collins (Gin, Basil Syrup, Lemon Juice, Soda) which had a nice zing to them. Birthday Boy was happy with his Sherbet Gimlet (Gin, Lillet Blanc, Lime Sherbet, Lime Juice) and Teen Girl had a liked her Strawberry & Rosemary Shrub.
All was well in our world.
Our Mains hit the table with perfect timing. Thankfully, the crew at Meatmaiden Steakhouse had the foresight to give us 2 red meat dishes, as Birthday Boy had warned he’d be livid if we got chook and fish.
Instead, he was positively enthusiastic about the tender 20-Hour Smoked Brisket. The accompanying Rum BBQ sauce enhanced the meat’s mild bonfire tang perfectly.
Similarly, the Wagyu Rump was excellent. Thick, charred, beautifully rested slices of steak which gave easily to the tooth and tasted divine.
On the side we had the compulsory Chips (with a mild Confit Garlic Aioli) and a tasty bowl of Charred Greens, Provolone and Salsa Verde. And yes. The fabulous Mac Cheese Gratin. Happy days!
Stuffed and content, we decided to forgo a sweet in favour of an ice cream from the freezer at home.
We climbed back on to street level full of birthday cheer after our delicious meal at Meatmaiden Steakhouse.