Having had the most delicious experience last week at Saké, I was eager to try another of ArgyleXchange’s restaurants for the $35 dinner special over the course of March. Having looked through the menus of the remaining restaurants, I decided to visit The Cut Bar and Grill and easily found a willing dinner companion for the night.
I will admit right now that I’ve broken one of the unspoken rules of food blogging. After a slight kerfuffle in organising a reservation over the phone for Saké, I did a bit of an experiment and this time did something a little differently.
I sent an email.
Using my blogger email address.
All right, all right, don’t shoot me down! Well I got an easy confirmation for my 6.30 booking, but as to whether the waitstaff on the night knew I was a blogger or not was yet to be seen.
We arrived at The Cut Bar & Grill at 6.30 on the dot. I absolutely love the entrances to these ArgyleXchange restaurants – set in the heritage buildings of The Rocks, there’s that touch of old-world style and sense of mystery in that you don’t quite know what the inside will look like.
Stepping carefully down the dark stone steps, the inside was nothing short of breath-taking. This is what I call a proper steakhouse! Moodily-lit with warm leather and dark wood furnishings, it was gorgeously cosy and had a slight “gentleman’s club” vibe to it. Don’t be surprised if I order a scotch next.
Our waitress for the night noticed me taking photos and after she took our orders, told us that we should check out the bathroom door handles; despite having worked there for a long time, she still loved them!
Well of course I had to go and have a peek then… A bit mystified, I pushed the door open, which was a plain wooden chopping board, but when I closed the door behind me, I let out a peal of sheer delighted laughter.
A butcher’s knife embedded in the door! Such a novelty. And yes, I did try and do an Arthur and test how embedded it was. It seems that I still need to do more resistance training.
When I returned, the waitress came around with the bread basket and asked if we would like malted sourdough or white. I chose the malted sourdough, which had a lovely, earthy, rich flavour. I liked how we had the options of both olive oil and butter, rather than merely one or the other.
My white, the Nautilus Estate Sauvignon Blanc, was from the New Zealand Marlborough region with refreshing hints of zesty citrus and a slight essence of passionfruit.
At this point I had tipped my dinner partner off to the novelty washrooms, and while he went to check them out, I had a chat to the waitress who was very bubbly and informative, obviously a long-time employee.
According to her, Cut Bar & Grill has been open since September 2010. All of the ArgyleXchange restaurants are owned by the Urban Purveyor Group (previously the Barvarian Hospitality Group), who also own all of the Barvarian Bier Cafes around New South Wales and Queensland. This was the first year that the restaurants in The Rocks: The Argyle, Saké, The Cut, and Anana’s Brasserie have been properly grouped together, hence the March celebration.
I suspect at this point, with my photo-taking, she was onto me. The attentive, friendly yet professional service was a welcome change from many fine-dining restaurants I’ve been to. I know we’re supposed to be all secretive so as to provide an impartial review, but I had a feeling she would have been lovely regardless of whether I had my camera out. We noted that she took her time with the other diners as well, and really only lingered at our table for a little longer because we engaged her in conversation and asked questions.
Our mains arrived very quickly, both on very hot plates.
The Pan-roasted Barramundi Fillet, Samphire, Green Peas, King Prawn and Cider Buerre Blanc arrived and I was very excited upon seeing the huge steak-like fillet of fish. The skin was perfectly salted and crispy, letting out a decisive crunch when I sliced into it. The tender flesh flaked away beautifully like the fresh pages of a new book, and the flavour of the fish was creamy and light.
I was a bit curious about the samphire, as Google said it was a species of edible succulent, but mixed in with the green peas it didn’t seem to have much of a distinct flavour, tasting merely like green beans.
I couldn’t really taste the cider in the buerre blanc, but it added a lovely buttery finish to the fish. My one prawn looked rather lonely, but it was tasty and wasn’t alone on the plate for very long! My glass of white matched the barramundi perfectly
My dinner partner had opted for the Tasmanian Wilderness Grass-fed Sirloin Steak, with Herb Butter and Shoestring Fries.
Looking at the size of that steak, I suddenly felt rather sorry for ordering fish..at a steakhouse! While I’m a scotch or eye-fillet only kind of girl, I was dying for a taste. The meaty smell coming off it was so heady and mouth-watering!
He was kind enough to cut off a small piece for me, and it was exactly medium-rare, just the way he had requested. It did lack a slight bit of seasoning, with the herb butter being predominantly parsley-based and not having a very strong flavour. However the natural sweetness of the meat was wonderful, with the texture quite lean; according to our waitress, the marbling was a 2-3 level. The shoestring fries were nothing extraordinary, although thankfully without the extreme sodium of McDonald’s.
We both suffered from extreme food envy when we saw that someone had ordered the braised beef short rib (cooked for 12 hours overnight) and the hunk of meat is actually brought out into the main restaurant where a waiter carves it in front of you! Unfortunately he moved around a fair bit and the lighting was shocking for my pathetic camera, so I only managed to get this poor-quality shot.
Originally, we had declined the waitress’ offer to look at the sides and told her we were saving room for dessert. She said this was an excellent choice, as the pastry chef from Ananas’ has actually reviewed the dessert menus of the ArgyleXchange restaurants. At this point I excitedly piped up that I had gone to the 2013 Taste of Sydney Food Festival, and we both had a rave about the gorgeous Salted Caramel Éclair.
I had narrowed my choice down to either the Valhrona Chocolate Mousse or the Passionfruit and Coconut Bombe ($14), but when the waitress set the menus down and said (without me asking) that she highly recommended the Bombe, it was a done deal.
While certainly not one of the prettiest Bombe Alaskas I’ve seen (Selah and Public Dining Room take out the prize), the combination of flavours was something straight out of heaven. The base was a flaky and light coconut dacquoise, and inside the layer of sweet, lightly caramelised meringue was the most gorgeous passionfruit and coconut sorbet you can ever imagine. Light, refreshing, and a packed punch of tropical passionfruit. I easily polished it off with the passionfruit gel, meringues and fresh berries on my plate. Only now do I remember that I didn’t offer to share it once with my dinner partner!
He didn’t seem to care though, he was more absorbed with his own dessert!
His Sticky Date Pudding, Brandy Butterscotch Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream ($12) was a beautifully baked and spongy pudding: moist, light, and exactly what a perfect sticky date pudding should be. The brandy hadn’t been cooked out of the rich butterscotch sauce, but nor was it overpowering or distinctly alcoholic. Had it not been so dark, the specks of vanilla bean would have been easily visible in the vanilla ice cream, which sat on some pistachio…somethings. Don’t ask me too many questions, I was too distracted with my own dessert!
With our poor bellies straining with effort and our eyes shutting from an oncoming food coma, we paid and left a tip for our very friendly and helpful waitress before exiting the premises and slowly attempting to ‘walk off the food’ to Wynyard Station. An absolutely beautiful steakhouse with faultless service… the perfect venue for any fine-dining carnivore.
The Cut Bar & Grill
16 Argyle Street, Millers Point NSW 2000
(02) 9259 5695