Steer Bar & Grill, South Yarra

The first we heard of Steer Bar & Grill was when we walked past it on one of our jaunts to South Yarra during our Melbourne trip in December (Burch & Purchese is up the road). The menu is on display at the front, something we wish all restaurants would do. In this case, it got our attention and played a part in winning our business. Several hours later, back in our holiday apartment in Chinatown, as we talked about what to do for dinner, we thought of Steer. I rang and made a reservation for an early dinner.

As luck would have it, our table was right by the window and thanks to daylight saving, perfect conditions for photography.

Jac's Cosmopolitan
Bread with whipped butter

Jac's entree was Steer steak tartare, a generous serving of well seasoned raw beef served with the traditional accompaniment of raw egg yolk, as well as marrow croquettes and Melba toast. She'd been craving steak when we walked in; not any more.

Steer steak tartare - marrow croquette, Melba toast, jalapeno, crudites (AU$16)

There was a lot to like on the appetisers list - warm prawn lettuce wraps, scallops ceviche with roast corn, crispy crab roll, local rabbit rillettes with pickled chanterelles... but bacon as a dinner entree meat? Magnificent genius. The double cut house bacon was criss-crossed with grill marks and glazed with Canadian maple syrup. The two slices of bacon were served on a wooden board with a colourful coleslaw, tossed in a light, tangy vinaigrette rather than drenched in the usual mayo-based dressing. Beautiful.

Double cut house bacon with Canadian maple syrup, coleslaw (AU$14)

For main course, Jac ordered from the tataki bar menu - Atlantic salmon tataki with wasabi, ponzu and fresh radish salad.

Atlantic salmon tataki, wasabi, ponzu and radish salad (AU$15)

There are an overwhelming 30+ cuts of meat on Steer's menu, sourced from top-quality Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland producers, each listed with weight and marbling score. A staff member worked his way around the dining room hefting a massive wooden board loaded with raw beef, explaining the different cows and cuts of meat to diners, but he didn't make it to our table. I narrowed my choices down to a one of the smaller cuts of Victorian beef and decided on the 250 gram O'Connor Black Angus eye fillet. On the plate were a green salad and a chunk of bone marrow. I was invited to choose a sauce (or sauces, if I wished) delivered via silver service. The caramelised onion was fabulous but to be honest, this juicy knob of beef didn't need much of a sauce.

O'Connor eye fillet (250g, AU$65)
You get to choose sauces for your steak. They really like their wooden boards here!

We shared a couple of sides. The steak chips were good old-fashioned hand-cut thick chips.

Steak chips (AU$8)

But the rockstar dish for us (if we forget the bacon momentarily, because let's face it - bacon always wins) was the wedge of crisp iceberg lettuce drizzled in ranch dressing, garnished with tracing paper-thin sliced red onion and fresh parsley. Such a simple idea, brilliantly executed, yet so basic it seems outrageous that we happily paid the asking price of $8. This was, without a question, my favourite vegetable side dish of 2013. Cutting through the layers of crunchy lettuce with my steak knife was just as satisfying as slicing through my steak. Probably shouldn't say that too loudly in a steakhouse.

Iceberg wedge, ranch dressing, red onions (AU$8)
Steer doesn't look like a typical steakhouse from the front; Steer's big bull sculpture; Friday night dining room

Too full to move straight to dessert, we paid the bill and got back on the tram to explore more of Melbourne. We were impressed by the great food at Steer Bar & Grill - not just for macho meat eaters - and the service, including an excellent sommelier. It was a superb last supper for our Melbourne trip; almost three months later, we're still talking about it.

Steer Bar & Grill
637 Chapel Street
South Yarra VIC 3141
Lunch Fridays only from 12pm
Dinner daily from 6pm

Steer Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

About this series

In December 2013, my partner Jac and I went on holiday - Melbourne (3 nights), then 3 nights in Launceston (Jac, to stay with a friend) and King Island (me, for a photographic safari with a couple of friends), and finally, Hobart, where we spent Christmas (6 nights). This trip was not sponsored in any way.

The complete set of Melbourne posts
Not bad for three nights' 'work', eh? Hope you've enjoyed the series.

For a preview of some of the stories to come, see Holiday sneak peek.