The Meat and Wine Co., Hawthorn

The Meat and Wine Co. is a steakhouse located in Hawthorn on Riversdale Rd, at the intersection of Burke and Camberwell Road. It is easily accessible by trams 70/72/75, or about a five to ten minute walk from Camberwell Station. I'd actually been meaning to come here for quite a while as I heard they had really great steak, and a few of my friends had been for lunch at the Southbank store and really enjoyed it. I had a really great experience here at Meat and Wine Co., and my friends and I all agreed that the steak here is probably some of the best we've had in Melbourne!

The restaurant itself has quite a sophisticated and classy feel to it, with the dim lighting and soft music playing in the background. There were lots of textured decorations on the walls both up and downstairs, and the menus themselves had an African Safari theme to it, with different animals displayed on the front. Though sophisticated and classy, the atmosphere is at the same time quite relaxed; you don't feel like you can't talk or laugh too loudly, and the chatter from the different customers made for lively surroundings. The service was really great with attentive staff coming over several times to see if we were ready to order, and also to check up on us during our meal.

As this is a steakhouse, the menu offers a really extensive range of steaks, with different cuts and grain fed for different periods of time, to suit different people's preferences. Three of us decided on the 200g Fillet (grain fed for 120 days; $34), and two of us got the Ribs and Steak combination to share ($49). There were 7 different sauces to choose from for our steaks, and we went with the Mernda Valley Mushroom and the Crumbled King Island Blue Cheese ones ($4 each). The steaks also come with either chips, onion rings or salad on the side, and as we all chose the chips or onion rings, also ordered a Quinoa and Snow Pea Salad to share ($18).

The Quinoa Salad consisted of white quinoa, snow peas, fresh chives, toasted sunflower seeds and snow pea tendrils with a white wine vinaigrette. It was really refreshing and light in contrast to our steak dishes so balanced out well, and there were great textures from all the different elements of the dish. The flavours also combined well, with the vinaigrette bringing the other ingredients together and not being too overpowering and strong. We all really enjoyed this dish and the only little fault we had was probably the stalks of the sprouts being a little bit too long and hard to eat neatly.

We all ordered our steaks to be cooked medium rare, and found these to be cooked to perfection. The knife glided through the steak effortlessly like butter, was still lovely and pink in the middle, and juicy and tender. Both of the sauces we ordered went extremely well to compliment the steak and added more flavour and texture. In particular, the Blue Cheese sauce wasn't overpowering and strong in flavour at all despite the use of blue cheese, and complimented the steak well for a subtle and smooth cheese taste that brought out the natural flavours of the beef. (Sorry the photos aren't very good quality - it was really dark in the section we were sitting at, but we also had one extremely bright light shining down so there's a bit of a contrast.)

The Ribs and Steak combination consisted of a 200g Rump Eye steak and half a rack of ribs (beef or lamb; we went with lamb), served with crunchy chips. The lamb ribs were cooked on a char grill with a lemon, herb and mustard marinade and like the steak, was cooked perfectly, and not tough to eat. The lamb flavour isn't actually too strong in these ribs, so even if you're not a big fan of the lamb flavour, this would be worth a try. As the ribs do get a bit oily to eat, they actually came with a bowl of water on the side in which you could wash your hands with, and you were provided a bib as well so not to get your clothes dirty, which was quite thoughtful.

The chips were really crunchy and light and went well both by itself or dipped in the sauce for the steak. The onion rings on the other hand was a little bit more oily and messy to eat, though like the chips, they went really well to compliment the steak. I was surprised at how big the bowl of onion rings were, as it was quite a generous portion as a side dish.

For dessert, we decided to get the Sweet Finale ($29) to share between all of us, as this way we could get a taste of everything. The staff serving us told that it was a good portion about four people usually, so we thought it would be perfect for the five of us as we were slightly full from the steaks already. The Sweet Finale consisted of five different desserts on a large plate; a chocolate and pistachio fondant, a honey and cinnamon crème brûlée, a berry pot cheesecake, a milk tart and a vanilla bean ice cream. Perhaps we have pretty big appetites, but we found we probably could've gone with another dessert as well - either another Sweet Finale or the Cheese Platter - in our opinion this platter is better shared between three people.

The dessert platter had a good range of textures and flavours, and nothing was overly sweet or rich. The chocolate fondant was lovely and gooey in the middle, though you couldn't really taste the pistachio flavour in it. Despite the crème brûlée being a honey and cinnamon one, it wasn't actually very sweet at all. The top crunchy layer broke easily when you tapped at it, and this dessert was also served with some slightly sour strawberries on the side. The berry pot cheesecake had a really cute presentation in the small pot, and was really smooth and light, contrasting with the raspberries and cherries. The milk tart, which tasted a bit similar to a panna cotta, had a really soft, light and smooth texture that contrasted well with the crumbly cinnamon base. The vanilla bean ice cream was really cleverly presented, sitting on top of a dark chocolate base that helped ensure the ice cream wasn't too sweet.

We all really enjoyed our experience here at the Meat and Wine Co., and are already planning to come back again sometime soon. I'm really looking forward to trying their burger, and their steak sandwiches from the lunch menu are said to be quite delicious as well. A definite recommended place for a great experience and amazing meal!

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