Thursday, January 19, 2012

In the Black (by Ezard)

I’ve been to The Star as many times in the last six months as I have been in my entire life before the multi-million dollar renovations at the casino, which has attracted a wealth of magnetically attractive operators.

Black by Ezard is fairly removed from Teage Ezard’s Asian-leaning Melbourne establishments: it's a glitzy and expansive steak house looking out to Pyrmont Bay, where the high rollers feed before dropping said rolls of cash.

The fitout is pretty amazing, incorporating a stunning wine cellar in full view of anyone passing the casino’s front entrance and a classy bar area where serious cocktails are had. It was particularly difficult to resist the bar food menu while perched at the bar perusing the cocktail list ahead of a dinner reservation.

Wagyu sliders at Black Bar, The Star, Pyrmont
The wagyu sliders would have to be the best burger of the year. Not to mention it’s the only burger/slider I’ve had so far this year, but its juiciness and richness surpasses any burgers I might have had last year too.

Just one bite through the buttery mini brioche bun, the flavours of rich, melty cheese and ridiculously juicy wagyu beef pattie meld and party on the palate. Pickles join the affair at the peak, and it starts all over again at the next bite.

Dripping all over my hands as I sipped a Charlie Chaplin (my new favourite cocktail with apricot brandy, sloe gin and lemon), I didn’t want the slider to end; the combination of tastes and textures was just naughtily divine.

Chicken wing
Somewhat less impressive than the sliders was the chicken wing dish consisting of three drumettes, pickled celery and an airy blue cheese dip. This take on buffalo wings, on top of the sliders, gives the bar menu a distinctly American feel.

The chicken was saucily spicy, a little salty with the blue cheese, and the softened celery an interesting twist. It was possibly not the best dish with the Bobby Burns cocktail of Pig’s Nose Scotch whisky, sweet vermouth and Benedictine.

Brioche, butter and black volcanic salt flakes at Black by Ezard, The Star, Pyrmont
Come dinner reservation time, our drinks were taken to our window table overlooking Pyrmont Bay. The main part of the dining room is surprisingly expansive and open, with the open kitchen behind, and more intimate banquette seats heading towards the bathrooms.

It’s easy to draw comparisons to another city steak house, but I try not to, especially as the glossy brioche loaf arrives with a pat of butter and black volcanic salt flakes apparently from Hawaii. The richness of the brioche doesn’t need any more butter, but my excuse is that it helps the salt flakes stick.

Perusing the iPad wine list, there’s incredible variety in wines by the bottle and somewhat less so by the glass. I selected my glass of Malbec without advice, but it turned out to be a fabulous match to the steaks.

Organic farm egg, potato cream, truffles, iberico ham, herb salad
The organic egg dish is the priciest entrée on the menu, topped with shaved black truffles that don’t really fill the air or palate with its expected aroma. The nest of potato hides the slow cooked, runny yolked egg, with a bowerbird-like collection of goodies on top.

The foamy potato cream and strip of iberico ham laid aside add a little more substance, but I think you have to be a real egg lover to be enthralled by this dish.

Prawns butter poached, wood grilled watermelon, corn salad
The prawn entrée turns out to be a beautiful construction with three large prawns, watermelon, corn kernels and a puree and what I think could be corn bread, thinly sliced radish and herbs.

The flavours were fairly subdued but all the components matched well enough, particularly when smothered in the creamy corn puree. I enjoyed the varied textures, especially the vibrantly red and juicy watermelon strips.

One thing I noticed about the Black by Ezard menu is that provenance of ingredients is not highlighted, so I’m not sure where my prawns were from, nor from where the steaks are sourced. I wonder if it’s just a Sydney restaurant trend, but it might be nice to know where my cow comes from.

Flat iron, grain fed wagyu, MBS 9+, 200g
I thought I would be accustomed to the presentation of meat, alone, on a large white plate by now but it still makes me laugh every time. The perfect portion of the flat iron steak is kind of tender with an impressively rich mouthfeel at every chew, and more so with truffle butter as a sauce.

I wonder if this small-ish cut, cooked medium-rare, still receives the sous vide treatment which all Black by Ezard steaks apparently do, which is more than justifiable on the man-sized steak that I ordered.

Rib eye, dry aged grass fed angus, 400g
I felt a little Flinstonian with my rib eye on the bone, hence the lighter, ‘healthier’ choice of Argentinean chimichurri as a sauce.

A few edge parts of the steak were a little tough and more medium than my requested medium-rare, but the main game was satisfyingly juicy and meaty – my preference over the luxurious creaminess of high marble-scored wagyu beef.

There was a nice level of spice in the chimichurri to keep the 400 grams of beef interesting, but despite my valiant attempt, I conceded defeat many, many, many minutes into the game, when I couldn’t take another mouthful of cold steak.

Cos, chorizo, piquillo pepper, heirloom carrot
Given the protein-heavy meal, a salad came highly recommended as a side dish although we elected the cos lettuce salad with chorizo based primarily on the latter protein.

The salad ended up being a bit of a surprise in that chorizo wasn't easy to find; the finely diced sausage barely registering its presence in sight or taste.

More abundant were thin rounds of what I thought were radish, but the white-inner, purple-outer root vegetable turned out to be heirloom carrot. With our meaty mains, the light dressing on the crunchy cos lettuce was most appreciated.

Parsnip fritters, coconut, turmeric caramel
I would never have thought to order the parsnip fritters as a side, if not for a staff recommendation. Deep brown quenelles of soft parsnip and coconut were sweetened by a caramel spiced with turmeric and topped with dried slivers of red chilli/capsicum. It was probably good enough to be served as an entrée itself.

There was no room for dessert after, essentially, three substantial savoury courses. The Black by Ezard experience was much like what I would imagine dining in a Las Vegas casino would be: decent food, slick service, lots of action and for The Star, a very good bet.

Black Bar on Urbanspoon

Black By Ezard on Urbanspoon

10 comments:

JB said...

Wow. So. much. food.

That looks delicious! I'm partial to the rib eye too but a marble score of 9 (presumably out of 10!) is impressive.

hollypop said...

the bread. oh god i'd love to have that brioche D:

john@heneedsfood said...

Oh my those wagyu sliders do look damn tempting!

MissPiggy said...

I'm yet to try a slider-god knows why as that one looks great. I find the lonesome steak on the plate a bit odd too.

joey@FoodiePop said...

I've stopped myself going to The Star now; it was costing a fortune!

Simon Leong said...

i still haven't had a chance to visit The Star but there seems to be so many foodie choices now. i'm always looking for a good Rib eye, dry aged grass fed angus and this one looks pretty good :-)

Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said...

I always slap more butter onto my brioche, as I do with croissants! =p And I agree, steaks do look a little lonely when sitting solo on a plate but that salad - which I can't really see for the surface blanket of cheese!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

It's an interesting mix of items there. I didn't expect to see sliders alongside the rest of the dishes.

missklicious said...

The parsnip fritters sure look good! Steaks do look a little odd sitting on a plate all by themselves, I'm so accustomed to seeing them with something on the side!

Tina said...

Hi JB - Yes... bar food before dinner probably wasn't a smart idea...

Hi hollypop - I'm sure you would... I think butter is probably the main ingredient!

Hi John - Yep, I'm definitely returning for those and drinks at the bar ;)

Hi MissPiggy - It's how all these steak places serve it now days, but it's no full meal.

Hi Simon - Oooh, so many dining options there now, but prob not the place for a newborn :)

Hi Rita - It was certainly a buttery mouthful! And probably not the healthiest salad ever... :S

Hi Lorraine - The sliders are part of the bar menu; separate to the normal menu.

Hi missklicious - The parsnip fritters were amazing. And to think I would never have ordered them without the recommendation..!

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