13 Apr The Steakhouse at The Mitre Tavern
The Mitre Tavern is officially Melbourne’s oldest building, something that the establishment proudly advertises and rightly so. The moment you walk into the building on Bank Place you feel like you are stepping back in time to the 19th century, a historic landmark nestled into the high-rise buildings surrounding it.
The tavern downstairs offers up a cozy “old world” feel, a pub with a generous selection of beers and ciders on tap while the Bistro caters for the masses with a decent rendition of the pub-grub classics on the menu. It can get busy as the workers of Melbourne’s CBD descend after a hard days work to unwind with a cold beverage or to grab a bite to eat, probably not the best place to come for a quiet drink but the noise, hustle and bustle is what gives the venue its atmosphere and that is something to be embraced.
The Steakhouse itself is located upstairs, through a narrow stairwell located to the rear of the bar area. Plenty of seating as well as a private function area for large groups ensures it can cater for most parties and needs. A modest yet ample wine list can cope with most diners requirements and plenty of reds to choose to compliment your steak.
The obligatory bread and butter came first, however unlike many places which offer just a small piece of some lavish artisanal bread, our waiter brought out a reasonably large roll, certainly enough to keep a group of four or more happy. Everyone loves some generosity and this was certainly that, and a very nice bread roll too.
I have always enjoyed French onion soup and ever since trying the one at Bistro Vue I have tried to seek it out on other menus as well. This version was a rambunctious rendition, plenty of garlic and onion infusing bags of flavour to it, perhaps not quite as delicate as some others I’ve had but gorgeous none-the-less.
What good is coming to a steakhouse and not trying the steak? So it made sense to order some sides to compliment the main fare, opting for a blue cheese, pear and walnut salad and some truffle salt chips. The salad was wonderfully crisp and fresh, plenty of flavour from the blue cheese but not over powering due to the sweetness of the pear and the crunch of the walnut gave it some lovely texture. The chips were a delight also, although if you aren’t keen on truffle then give these a miss as the aroma and taste of truffle was bold and in your face.
The first of the steaks came, a generous portion of rump steak served with a few chips and a port jus, sadly this is where things started to unravel. The steak had probably a little too much char on the outside which was a worry given it was requested medium to medium-rare, ever so slightly over cooked but the tragedy was just how tough this cut proved to be even without it being well-done. Rump is always going to be slightly tougher than other cuts, but not as much as this proved to be. There was also a huge amount of gristle in the meat as evidenced by the photo below, completely inedible and while the steak was tasty this let it down severely. The jus that came with it however was terrific, rich, deep, full of flavour and you could taste the difference from using port rather than the typical red wine.
The second steak to come out was a lovely looking piece of eye-fillet. While it was requested medium-well done and so I wouldn’t be expecting a melt-in-your-mouth juicy steak, I would still have expected a nicely aged eye fillet to be a lot more tender than this proved to be. These guys certainly know how to do their sauces though as once again the accompaniment was lovely, a rich and creamy bearnaise this time.
Our first desert arrived at the table. Without thinking I dived in with the spoon to reveal a gorgeous molten centre to this chocolate fondant, that was before it clicked that this wasn’t what I had ordered. After the issue with the steak I think things must have been getting a little flustered in the kitchen. The waiter took it away but I couldn’t help feel guilty that the person who had ordered it would have to wait a little longer, hopefully for something equally as decadent (although I think I saw it as a tad less “molten” when it went out again).
The real deal finally arrived, a sticky date pudding with luscious vanilla-bean ice-cream and an amazing butterscotch sauce. The sponge was heavenly, so inviting and very moreish, the ice-cream was perfect to combat the richness on the plate.The caramel adorning the dish looked pretty enough but was a tad thick at the top, certainly it may have been worth leaving if you had dentures, but I did enjoy the burnt toffee taste to it, the bitterness going nicely against the sweet pudding.
Let’s be clear, I’m not someone who enjoys writing excessively bad reviews, being overly critical just to garner attention and conjuring up a harsh critical slating of a review, but I do maintain that I want/need to be honest. So to that end, I can honestly say that if you are going to call yourself a Steakhouse then you better get the steak right and the consistency as close to perfection as the cows will allow. The Mitre Tavern Steakhouse unfortunately failed to meet these criteria on the night.
The restaurant itself isn’t exactly fine dining so perhaps ever so slightly pricey for what it is, I know that I have paid around the $50 mark before for steak and had a lot better than I had on this occasion. I did have a look around the restaurant though and there were certainly others who looked to have succulent tender steaks on their plate, knives gliding through like butter, so I think we may just have been unlucky with the choice of steak on the night.
The wait staff were all attentive and friendly, even in the face of some adversity and certainly held up their end of the bargain. Despite all the issues on the night, this is a place that has big bold flavours and for everything else was a great venue. We were offered a complimentary glass of wine for the troubles, (this was declined, however like true pros they then just took a glass we already had off the bill).
A really nice old building and what could and should be a lovely night out if they can work on their consistency, certainly some troubles but not a complete disaster. Potentially a very good restaurant, just not for us on the night.