Located on the lower ground inside the GPO Grand precinct of 1 Martin Place, Prime Steak Restaurant has been on the top of my bucket list of steakhouses to tick off.
Walking into the the restaurant on a Saturday night with Jen, the first thing we noticed was the ambience of the restaurant – intimate and welcoming. We felt like celebrities walking into our very own secluded dining space escaping from the hustle of Sydney just outside. Unlike going to your local pub for a steak, Prime evokes an aura of elegance and professionalism – the perfect vibe for some serious steak devouring. Ushered to our booth, the room opens up with New York City inspired decor and large sandstone walls, we were feeling a million bucks! It was almost reminiscent of a scene from The Godfather, naturally I was playing the role of Al Pacino.
We were especially excited to dine at Prime Steak Restaurant as we were previewing the ‘Restaurant Butler’ service . A world first offering patrons the opportunity to tailor their dining experience when booked through the GPO Grand website (Restaurant Butler is also available at five other restaurants within GPO Grand).
I am sure the guys reading this will agree with me on this. Planning a special date or anniversary IS hard! Trying to get everything right, finding the right present and making sure everything comes together is hard work and if we don’t have to do it ever again, we will happily take that offer! Maybe I am just a lazy romantic but sometimes trying to find the time is difficult. Also for the spontaneous couple who loves steak, I think you’ll love this service.
Booking can be made online and takes about 5 minutes to personalise your very own dining experience. This ranges from flowers and Champagne on arrival to truffles and personalised cards. You can even pre-order the wine (or get the sommelier to do the work and set them a wine budget) and the food.
As we approached the table, the smile on Jen’s face lit up as she saw the vibrant bunch of flowers on the table. I rushed forward, picked up the bunch and claimed the credit. Moments later, we were served a glass of Champagne each. The ‘wow’ factor alert was ringing and it was quite an experience to be able to rock up to a restaurant and blow your dining partner away. Time poor people, note this option down when you need to surprise someone next time!
As we were enjoying our Champagne, we were served the amuse bouche (an option on the Restaurant Butler Service), a small cup of porcini mushroom soup with arabica coffee foam, served with toasted focaccia. You can also order this as an entree size on the regular menu. It was creamy with the fragrant aroma of porcini mushrooms shining through and combined with the toasted focaccia, it had both crunch and warmth and was great for a winter’s night.
For entree, I had the seared scallops ($29), this was placed on a bed of paella style risotto with prawns, chorizo and crispy rice crumbs. The scallops were perfectly cooked with a gorgeous caramelised crust on the outside. Having seen my fair share of risotto fails on reality TV cooking shows, I’ve come to appreciate the delicate nature of risotto. The consistency and textures here were spot on and the classic paella flavours worked well. The rice crumbs added a nice crunch to the dish and left me wanting more.
Jen had the Pate en Croute ($29) consisting of pate with foie gras, pork and truffle terrine with celeriac coleslaw. The pate oozes with the smell of truffle but it’s the heart of foie gras that gets Jen excited. The richness of the pate was well balanced with the celeriac coleslaw (one of Jen’s all time favourite vegetables, completely underrated she tells me).
Having won many awards over the years since opening in 1999 for the best steaks restaurant, Jen and I couldn’t not order steaks for our main course. Prime Steak Restaurant stocks an impressive 18 different type of steak combinations.
Below is a quick run down on what is on offer and some distinctions between the various type of steak that is out in the market.
Type of cattle
Angus-Hereford, Yearling: raised on grass for nine months and then finished on a grain diet to ensure a consistent product.
Black Angus: grass fed and fully matured at 30 to 36 months, the black angus cattle has more beefy flavour than the yearlings.
Wagyu: Wagyu beef is generally regarded as the highest grade and tastiest beef in the world. The marbling of Wagyu beef is the main characteristic that contributes to its tenderness, juiciness and most importantly to its flavour.
In Australia, the Wagyu branded meat is predominately ‘Wagyu F1’ which is a cross between Wagyu and Angus cattle. Marble score of 9+ is the highest you can find in Australia, whilst the wagyu from where the beef originated has the highest score of 12. As a comparison the maximum marbling score of breeds such as Angus and Hereford is 3.
Grass Fed vs Grain Fed
Grass fed: cattles fed on on grass leads to fuller flavoured beef than grain fed due to the fact that plant leaves and stems contain high content of various odorous substances. It also results in a more beefy taste, but not as tender as the meat is more lean.
Grain fed: cattles fed on grain may not be as flavourful as grass fed, but it does offer greater consistency and tenderness. More marbling is present in cattles fed on grain.
Different types of steak cuts
Top tip: The main thing to remember is that the tenderness of a steak is inversely related to the amount of work that a muscle does.
Fillet: the most tender cut of meat and is a portion cut from the tenderloin. It is exceptionally lean and tender as the cattle do not use this muscle.
Rib Eye: is fattier, more marbled and juicier than other cuts of beef and exceptionally tender.
Sirloin: is less tender than the other cuts of meat but has greater texture and while less tender juices are released when you bite this meat.
Scotch: The Scotch is a Rib Eye without the bone, as such it allows more even cooking than the Rib Eye.
Chateaubriand: Thick centre cut from the tenderloin and is exceptionally lean and tender.
T-Bone: cut from the end of the sirloin along the back of the animal. The T shaped bone contains two cuts of beef. First, the small side of the T contains meat from the tenderloin (fillet) while the large side contains meat from the sirloin.
Armed with our new found knowledge Jen decided to try the scotch (200g) full blood wagyu, marble score 9+ ($135) which was served with spinach, stuffed mushrooms and hazelnuts.
The waygu was as tender and juicy as what Jen had expected – cooked medium rare, which was the recommended way for the steak to be served. The marbling around the steak just literally melts in your mouth and the distinct taste of wagyu beef comes through using the technique of caramalisation to ensure it was not burnt. Jen and I have been to some of best restaurants that serve steak and she was happy to report that this was one of the best steaks she’s ever had.
The earthy and nutty notes of the accompanying spinach, mushroom and hazelnuts provided a great balance to the richness of the steak and enjoying it together made it a great dish.
As a self confessed meat lover, I decided to try a bit of everything and ordered the beef tasting plate ($120). The tasting plate consisted of three 90g premium fillets of yearling (grain-fed), black angus (grass fed) and wagyu (grain-fed), it was served with seasonal baby vegetable and Bordelaise sauce.
The great thing with the beef tasting plate was the ability to compare all three fillets side by side. Having developed a fascination about the three different cattle that the steaks come from, I was very keen to try it out for myself and spot the difference.
What is the big difference you you ask? The honest answer is they are all different! The steaks all have slight differences in flavour and tenderness. The wagyu unsurprisingly was the most tender of all three steaks. It also had the most intense beef flavour due to the marbling (fat = flavour in beef). The yearling had a good balance of tenderness and flavour, however when compared to the Black Angus it was slightly tougher. A delicious and enjoyable steak nonetheless. On balance, I would pick the Black Angus as my favourite steak. It had great beefy flavour and was very tender. It would undoubtedly be the steak that I would want to eat a full sized version of, if I had to pick one between all three.
We couldn’t have steak without potatoes! For our sides we had the house cut French Fries ($8.50) with rosemary sea salt and aioli and sautéed cauliflower florets ($12.50) with dried olives and puffed rice. The French Fries were thicker and more moreish than the Maccas style of fries we were expecting. The cauliflower (another versatile and underrated vegetable according to Jen) was deliciously comforting, the dried olives adding excitement and cut-through. A great pairing with great steaks.
At this point, you may think that Prime only serves steak. Looking around, we definitely saw plenty of steaks and Chateaubriand on the tables, however Prime does cater other options on the menu including seafood, lamb and vegetarian options.
For dessert Jen and I shared the chestnut creme brulee ($18.50) served with braised chestnuts, mandarin cream and confit mandarin. The citrus of the mandarin breaks through the richness of the brulee, and yet, the deep nourishing notes of the chestnut was present at every bite. Eaten together with the meringue, it provided a great combination of crunch, sweet and sour.
At the end of the night, we received our very own personalised message from the restaurant manager thanking us for attending (you can personalise your own message for your date as part of the Restaurant Butler Service). Our chocolate truffles were conveniently boxed for a later treat. This truly gave us a taste of what the restaurant butler service offers and how easy it was to arrange.
Our impressions? Great food, great atmosphere and seamless to organise. Best of all? One brownie point to me. 🙂
Prime Steak Restaurant
Lower Ground Floor, Sydney GPO Building, No. 1 Martin Pl, Sydney
Phone: (02) 9229 7777
Wednesday 12–3pm, 6–10pm
Thursday 12–3pm, 6–10pm
Friday 12–3pm, 6–10pm
Monday 12–3pm, 6–10pm
Tuesday 12–3pm, 6–10pm
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of GPO Grand