Yup. You heard me.
Never in a million years would I have thought that while eating a delicious piece of steak that I would be thinking about bak kwa… a popular and very tasty Chinese snack made from barbecued minced pork (or other meats…pork is best). But I did and let me explain.
It was our Anniversary and my DH brought me to Charcoal Grill On The Hill in Kew, Melbourne, which was well-rated online and recommended by friends. We started with Tasmanian oysters (A$4 ea.), served fresh with lemon slices to squeeze. Now I’m not an oyster girl so I encouraged my DH to have (almost) all of them. But even though I don’t enjoy oysters, I did have one and I knew the ones they served us were good. The look on my DH’s face as he savoured the delicate meat pretty much said it too.
So that was a pretty good opening act. For the main show, my DH ordered the Scotch Fillet (A$49 for 300g) while I went for the Wagyu version (A$87 for 200g… He offered and I’m not paying so it was easier to say yes!). Presentation was simple. The steaks came on white plates reminiscent of old hotel restaurants… the cos lettuce, shredded cabbage and fries were served in their own bowls or baskets.
But it’s in the first mouthful that you know what you’re paying for.
I’ve had wagyu but this was special. Maybe I never had a 9/10 grade before. As I sank my teeth into my wagyu and chewed out its delicious juices I started thinking…this is strangely familiar with another meat I’ve enjoyed… And that’s when it hit me…it reminded me of bak kwa! I had to chuckle. Beef and pork don’t taste anything like each other of course but the chewy tender texture of the wagyu cut on the thin side, its succulent juices and slightly charcoaled end bits certainly had parallels.
Steak like bak kwa? You can uncross your eyes now.
As you might expect, my DH’s Scotch Fillet wan’t as tender (or expensive) as my wagyu. Put it this way…He was enjoying his steak until he tasted mine.
But love meant he kept quiet and pretended he was enjoying his steak so I could enjoy mine (insert emoji here). And he didn’t tell me till a week later. It’s a good thing he was already three quarters of the way through his main before my wagyu spoiled his steak! Feeling rather guilty right now…
Just in case you’re wondering, the bread and chips were very satisfying. We suspect the chips were cooked in goose fat.
At this point I’ll have to disclose (please don’t freak out) that we both ordered our steaks well-done. We just don’t like eating blood in our meat. Personal preference. And all the more a challenge to find a place that can serve well-done steak that is still tender. (Our usual favourite place for steaks, Hogs Breath, does this well, as it slow-cooks its meat for 18 hours. But not all Hogs Breath restaurants are the same. Perhaps another post for another day.)
Now the closing act, desert. In short, one was fantastic, the other was bleh.
Here’s what my DH had… Sticky Date Pudding (A$14). The photo doesn’t do it justice but it was one of the best sticky dates he’s ever had. So moist, so flavourful, so yummy. The kind you savour in your mouth before regretfully having to swallow.
This unfortunately, was my disappointment of the night…Individual Lemon & Lime Tart with a Brulee Top (A$14).
I didn’t enjoy it. The pastry wasn’t crisp or fresh, the lemon lime filling was OK. And from the menu description, I was expecting the entire top to be brulee’d. Instead it was an area of about a 20 cent coin. I felt robbed of the joy of cracking the surface to unveil a gooey middle.
Darn. I should’ve ordered what he had. But love meant you kept quiet and pretended you were enjoying your desert so he can enjoy his.
Apart from that, this place is very recommendable.
Everything from the style of the service to the ambience is charmingly old-school and European. And here’s a tip…upstairs is great for a more intimate and conversation-friendly atmosphere. (Found that out by accident after they had to change our tables when we had to change our booking time).
Upstairs. Intimate, more conducive to conversations. Who doesn’t want a table by the window?
Downstairs…I know it doesn’t look it but definitely more bustling with activity and noise.
As for parking, there are limited spots but we ended up buying some wine from Dan Murphy’s, located behind the restaurant, and using their customer’s car park. If you’re thinking of bringing your own wine to Grill on the Hill though, don’t. The restaurant has a NO BYO policy. Having said that, their own wine list is said to be fantastic.
Do I have to wait for another anniversary to go again? Hope not.
Charcoal Grill On The Hill
289 High Street,
03 9853 7535
Open for dinner Mon-Sat, +lunch Friday, closed Sundays.