If I was to ask you how you wanted your wagyu steak cooked, what would you say?
Since May this year when Roaring Grill first opened (farewell Onba, your cocktails are remembered fondly!), we have been reading the various reviews of Hobart’s newest grill with much interest.
Initially the feedback was extremely complimentary, but we then started to see the odd complaint. Not many mind you, but the response these complaints received from both the public and the restaurant management was interesting to say the least!
We like to make up own minds though, so it was with much anticipation that we walked through the doors last weekend, hoping for perfection, yet a little wary at the same time.
Being fairly busy, we had been warned in advance that we may have to wait for our table to be prepared. This did eventuate and we were asked to take a seat at the bar and enjoy a drink or two.
A few minutes of lounging in the oh-so-comfy leather seats later and, despite the large number of wait staff milling around the general vicinity, we still hadn’t been approached with a drinks list. Not a big deal, but one of those little details that doesn’t go unnoticed. I proceeded to track down a menu and we both ordered a glass of the NV Deutz Marlborough. The drinks list was pretty decent I might add (the addition of an Argentinian Malbec would round it out nicely though!). It’s the first time that we had seen a NZ sparkling on offer, so we couldn’t resist!
A short time later we were advised that our table was ready and we made our way across the room, admiring the rustic exposed brick wall that formed the backdrop to our table, and settled down to peruse the mains menu.
Who can resist ribs? Not us!! They were offering a combination of ribs (with BBQ baste) and wings (with tamarind baste) as an entrée, so we ordered one serve to share.
A small pork and chicken bone-yard later, and after slurping the last of the sticky sauce off our fingers, it was unanimous that the wings were the winner on the day! Tender and full of moisture, the meat was eager to fall off the bone, while the sweet baste just begged you to keep coming back for more!
The ribs weren’t bad, but we both thought that they were just a tad on the dry side and were lacking in meat. I don’t like to boast, but….I think I spoiled us the previous weekend when I unearthed an incredible slab of pork ribs at Aproneers and cooked it up with a dry rub with epic success! Unlike the ones from Roaring Grill, those ribs had great chunks of tender pork that you could really sink your teeth into! If it wasn’t for that I’d probably be raving about the ones from Roaring Grill. Ah well…
For our main courses we just had to go for a steak each. Karen went with the 200g eye fillet, while I went all out and ordered the 200g wagyu eye fillet!
As you would expect, we were both asked how we would like our steaks cooked. Karen would normally have hers medium rare, but after seeing me enjoy mine rare for the last couple of years she thought she’d give it a try. So ‘rare’ it was for both of us!
We deliberately chose the two different types of meat, as we were keen to see how discernible the difference was between wagyu and regular beef.
After taking one bite of each it was pretty easy to tell which was the wagyu. A little bit more tender, with a silky smooth texture and well rounded flavour. The regular eye fillet was still sensational, but was quite obviously not in the same league as the wagyu! So if anyone reckons there’s no difference and it’s all just hype, to them I say “Bollocks!!”.
Before I had taken a single bite, as soon as I cut my steak in half I knew that something wasn’t quite right with my wagyu steak. The photo above doesn’t portray the colour of the meat as accurately as I’d like, because I could tell straight away that it wasn’t rare. Karen’s was perfectly cooked, with a gorgeous ruby centre, whereas the wagyu was without doubt a shade of pink that looked to be somewhere between medium rare and medium.
My first mouthful confirmed this suspicion. While the flavours were second to none, the texture was just that little bit firmer than I have come to expect, and love, from a rare steak. Because the flavours were so good there was no point in me making a fuss or requesting it to be re-cooked, so I cleaned up my plate with much gusto! I did make a mental note, however, to make mention of it at the end of the meal to the wait staff.
Next up was dessert. Being a grill I was expecting much in the way of desserts, but after checking out the dessert menu and listening to the incredible description of the daily ‘chocolate creation’ I was almost as excited for dessert as I was for the wagyu steak!!
For me it was the sugar coated donuts, lemon curd, rhubarb jam and chantilly cream, while for Karen it was the Chocolate Creation.
Buggered if I can remember what was in the chocolate creation exactly, but I was addicted from the first mouthful!! Karen only let me have two…so I’m going to have to go back some time soon to get my very own bowl of this chocolate flavoured crack cocaine!!
While the chocolate creation was the epitome of decadence, the donuts were an exercise in delicate indulgence! Crisp shell, soft, warm centre, and a fantastic zesty zing from the sauce. The perfect foil to the all the meat I had just consumed!
All in all this was one absolutely sensational meal!!
As I do like to give a balanced review, it can’t go without mention that the service just wasn’t quite up to scratch.
After being seated at our table the drinks list was again neglected. We had already ordered our meals and I’d given up by this stage, so I summoned one of the wait staff and requested that they bring one around to us. The response to us actually placing our order for a bottle of wine was quite odd…it was almost like it was the first time anyone had ever wanted to order a bottle of wine with their meal. Perhaps something was lost in translation, but it was very strange.
Now back to my original question.
How do you prefer your wagyu cooked?
At the conclusion of our meal the waiter asked us how our meals were, and I mentioned the fact that my wagyu steak seemed to be cooked beyond rare. At the same time I also made it clear that it was a delicious steak nonetheless.
The waiter’s response was very interesting!
Apparently it is recommended that wagyu steak should be cooked to around medium!
Wagyu is a breed of cattle that has been bred to specifically increase the amount of marbling and unsaturated fats within the meat. These fats are what give the beef its smooth texture, juiciness and incredible rich flavour. But unless the fats are heated and broken down, you’re not going to get the best flavours from your piece of wagyu. For this reason it is recommended that wagyu is cooked a little longer than your regular steak, ideally at, or just under, medium.
I have to be honest and say that I was a little sceptical, as this was the first time I had ever heard this explanation for a piece of meat not being cooked as ordered. It just sounded like a convenient excuse! But after doing some research at home the following day it turns out that this approach is quite common among chefs. While I wouldn’t say that it’s widespread (perhaps because of the rarity and cost of wagyu), the more reputable chefs did all seem to favour this technique.
I was pleased to have learnt something new, but it still left one issue unresolved.
When I ordered my wagyu steak, why wasn’t I advised at the time that it wouldn’t be cooked as I had requested?? I’ve got no problems being told that the chef would prefer to cook it to medium to produce the best flavour. The chef knows best! The wait staff really should have politely informed of this and it would have prevented me from having unrealistic expectations on tasting my steak for the first time.
I actually held off on publishing this review so that I could give Roaring Grill the chance to respond to my questions/concerns (via email). In particular I asked them to confirm that what the wait staff told me was actually correct regarding the technique they use in cooking their wagyu steaks, and suggesting that they consider providing more information when a customer orders their wagyu steak at anything under ‘medium’. Five days later and I’ve received no response.
Regardless, as I mentioned before this didn’t detract significantly from what was a very satisfying meal!
After a horrible experience at the (now defunct) Battery Point Steakhouse, and an abysmal meal at the Manor Grill (which has allegedly lifted its game recently…although I’m yet to give them a second chance!), Roaring Grill delivered us the best steaks we’ve had in Hobart in a long, long time!
Update – Nov ’13: It took a while, but the head chef at Roaring Grill has advised that they cook their wagyu at 62 degrees Celsius for an hour and a half to ensure a tender finish. This makes sense, as that puts it into the medium rare/medium camp. While I’m thankful that this has been clarified, I still stand by my comments regarding communication at the time of ordering the wagyu. The wait staff really should be making this clear right up front.
As a side note, a recent meal at The Astor Grill has resulted in a re-evaluation of the perfect steak. I encourage you to have a read here!
Taste – 5/5
Menu – 5/5
Atmosphere – 4/5
Service – 3/5
Value – 5/5
Overall – 3.5/5