Can I just say, for the record, that one should never cook or attempt to cook when one is even slightly inebriated or ridiculously tired. When I finally handed in my last exam on Monday after an all-nighter, I was seized with a sudden urgency to make buttercream despite my immense fatigue. I’ve tried making buttercream once, and I ended up splitting the butter in a vain attempt to get it more ‘pale’ (which is ridiculously impossible, because butter is YELLOW for heaven’s sake). I therefore followed a recipe from Wilton, which involved a half-half copha and butter mixture. Having never used copha before, I wasn’t aware that it would be as easy to ‘cream’ with the softened butter as getting wax to melt is in Antarctic conditions. I therefore ended up with clumps of copha throughout my icing, which added some rather undesirable textures and clogged up all of my piping nozzles.
Even more depressing, I was going back to work the next day, although I had dinner out to look forward to… I was going to try out a restaurant a friend had recommended, Mad Cow within the Merivale complex. Until then, I was yet to be impressed with any of Justin Hemmes’ complexes – Establishment, ivy, Sushi Choo… and don’t even mention the Pool Bar, as nobodies like myself certainly have never even dared to approach the perfectly coiffed girls and boys to request access.
However, I’ve been on the long, long hunt for a good eye fillet steak in Sydney for some time, and have been sorely disappointed by many establishments. So it was off to Mad Cow I went.
To get to Mad Cow, you need to walk through the ivy bar. I was slightly surprised to see how small the restaurant was, although the sections for each group are comfortably roomy booths. Enough room for four and certainly a lot of room to spread out for two. It was all very yellow (not my favourite colour at the moment, it reminds me of split buttercream).
The waitress offered to hang up my jacket for me, even with the wide expanse of booth I had to lay out all my wordly possessions on. Oh, and I also have to first apologise for the quality of the photos taken; I forgot my camera and ended up having to take everything with my iPhone – and dim light is not an iPhone’s friend!
Upon my dinner partner arriving, we perused the menu. Like a good man should, he listened to all my recommendations and what I wanted, and said that we should get all of it (I’m only half-joking). I was eager to get the eye fillet, of course, and I had heard via reviews that their Wagyu skirt steak was exceptional. We ordered for them to be cooked medium rare. We were asked what sauce accompaniment we would like, and upon hesitating at the variety, the waitress offered to bring out a selection of sauces for us. What service! I couldn’t fault one bit of the service at all that evening.
For drinks, my partner had a Shiraz while I had the bar’s only choice of cider, Pipsqueak. I haven’t had it before, and it was quite refreshing, and not as sweet as the other cider brands like Strongbow and Pink Lady.
The bread came out, two slices of a lovely, crusty soy and linseed sourdough with some amazingly smooth, silky butter. We tried not to eat too much of them though, not wanting to ruin our dinner.
The steaks come with shoestring fries and green salad for the table, however my dinner partner insisted on selecting one of the sides, so we opted for the broccolini with chilli and lemon. The broccolini was a tad overcooked for my taste, but the seasoning was spot on.
And then the moment of truth! Our steaks arrived, and the waitress had heeded our request for sharing, and so had asked the chef to halve the steaks for us. This photo isn’t so great at showcasing them in their pink, medium rare glory, but nicely shows the glorious char on them.
But THIS one shows the inside
Om nom nom nom. Our sauce selection also arrived at this time:
From furthest to the closest, it went: Bernaise, Horseradish, Pebre (a Chilean salsa made predominantly out of coriander and peppers), and a spicy barbeque sauce. All the sauces are made on the premises. I was quite happy with devouring my steaks themselves, but I tried the sauces and liked the Bernaise the best. The horseradish had some kick, and the barbeque had some nice warmth.
The steaks were perfect. Dinner partner preferred the skirt, whereas I preferred the eye fillet. The eye fillet melted away in my mouth upon a couple of bites, while the skirt was a little chewier but had a lovely crusty char on the outside.
After half-heartedly picking at the fries (nice, but not spectacular), the waitress asked us if we would like to see the dessert menu. Oh, by all means! However I was bordering on ‘stuffed’, so we agreed to share a dessert, and of course I was given the honour of choosing. I was tossing up between the chocolate fondant with roast peanut ice cream and honeycomb soil or the strawberry and orange mousse dacquoise with caramelised meringue (not on the Mad Cow menu online). However I know that most men don’t have as much of a chocolate fetish as women do, so I opted for the meringue and saw the obvious approval on my partner’s face.
So light! So fluffy! I felt like I could rest on clouds whilst eating this (although after everything I had ate that night, they would have to be quite weight-bearing clouds). Fresh strawberry slices were nestled within the whipped orange mousse, with a layer of almond dacquoise sandwiching the top and bottom. A little more caramelisation on the meringue would have been nice.
We declined on tea and coffee, however received complimentary petit fours, which was a pleasant surprise. Two oatmeal and honey cookies and two pieces of brownie. I didn’t manage to get a photo before my partner wolfed his down, then he realised and apologised profusely. Never mind. They were tasty.
Gorgeous, quality food if you’ve got the budget and the allowance. Service was faultless. Congratulations, Justin Hemmes, you’ve managed to impress me for the first time ever.
Mad Cow Restaurant
Level 1, ivy, 330 George St Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9240 3000