Another week, another visit to South Wharf.
Now that I’ve been down to the revamped area several times, I really think that South Wharf has been done well, particularly compared to other dining precincts (I’m looking at you Docklands and Southbank). I like that there’s a range of different price points and all the restaurants have a different feel, which makes me want to visit them all. So last Friday night Alastair and I headed down to Meat Market for a date night. (I say that jokingly… it was just dinner.)
Meat Market is mid-range in price, and was inspired by the Australian BBQ. Not too surprisingly, with a name like Meat Market, the menu has a focus on meat, meat, and more meat, with a few seafood items thrown in. And in keeping with the whole BBQ thing, there’s a large open kitchen in the middle of the restaurant where you can watch the chefs grill and cook your preferred protein.
Alastair and I started with the bucket of prawns ($26) – eight large Australian green prawns served in a bucket of ice with a ramekin of warm butter for dipping. They came unshelled, so we got in there and got our hands dirty (there was a finger bowl of warm water provided for cleaning up). Not a good first date entree, but we’ve been together for nearly ten years so we’re well past that stage. The only thing I would’ve liked was a bit more salt in the butter. There was salt provided on the table, but somehow my desire for a bit more salt didn’t translate into me picking up the salt and adding it in. Ahh brain, what are you doing?
We shared two meaty mains, one of which was the Dorper salt bush lamb loin ($38) and the other was a 28 day dry aged Victorian porterhouse ($39). Both mains came with a small tangy side salad and we also ordered a bowl of the green beans with anchovy and shallot butter ($8). The beans were good, though perhaps a bit pricey for such a little bowl. We also had the hand cut chips ($8) [the menu says they're cut by human hands!], which were pretty awesome – thickly cut pieces of potato with soft fluffy insides served with aioli.
I enjoyed the lamb, though Alastair wasn’t so keen on it. I believe this is because it had an interesting flavour – it didn’t have that gamey, lamb taste, though it was still very meaty.
We requested the porterhouse be cooked to medium rare, and doesn’t it look beautiful? The steak was rich and robust, and really didn’t need anything to go with it, though we did also have Béarnaise sauce on the side. The other sauce options were red wine jus, peppercorn jus and anchovy and shallot butter. I think I made the best choice.
We were way too full to have dessert so left our meal there… though we did take with us a faint aroma of cooked meat. Thanks to the open kitchen, the room got a touch smokey during the night. The extraction fan was working hard, I just don’t think it could cope with the amount of smoke that was being produced. Don’t let me put you off though – it’s quite a large space, so it wasn’t too bad (unless you’re a princess like me).
Meat Market: it’s not ground breaking food (which is not a criticism) but what they do – they do well. We had an enjoyable, solid meal. And if we had been on a first date, there would definitely have been a second.
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53 South Wharf Promenade
South Wharf 3008
Phone: 03 9008 8953
Web: meatmarketsouthwharf.com.au (autoplay sound alert)