Steak out’ in Jo’burg

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The Grill House, Rosebank

Established over 15 years ago, The Grillhouse claims to be one of South Africa’s premium steakhouses, offering choice meals, club-like ambience, attentive service and a unique selection of fine wines and malts. Chana Viljoen puts it to the test…

Location: Rosebank, especially Oxford Road, is a bit of a challenge (to put it mildly) because of roadworks and Gautrain construction, but the restaurant is located in The Firs Shopping Centre, which is, thankfully, on the outskirts of the ‘construction site’. It’s central enough to be an ideal meeting spot for those doing business in Johannesburg. Being located in the shopping centre, there is ample secure parking.

Atmosphere: The Grill House offers a successful juxtaposition of busy and calm. All the patrons are relaxed, and the atmosphere and setting allows you to feel at ease while you enjoy a casual conversation over a meal, but the restaurant is extremely busy. To use an old cliché it’s like a well-oiled machine with all the ‘components’ working at double speed to ensure smooth, flawless service and delivery.

Food: Strangely, the food is not the main focus of the Grill House menu. It only takes up one page of the four-page menu. The restaurant offers an impressively extensive range of wines, cognacs, whiskies, and other beverages.

That being said, food really is a top feature of the establishment. It is modestly presented, but makes a lasting impression once consumed. Each course arrived cooked to perfection and full of flavour.

The Grill House is famous for its steaks and ribs, and I was told that one of the restaurant’s specialities was a fillet on the bone, which apparently brings out the flavour even more. I had a medium fillet steak, which was served exactly the way I wanted it cooked. Thinking nothing could compare to the flavour of the meat and the unusually bright orange cheese sauce, I ordered the most perfect crème brûlée for desert.

Pricing: One of the Grill House’s slogans says it all: ‘Remind yourself why you work so hard’. It is clearly an upmarket restaurant, reminiscent of a classic New York Grillhouse, so you should expect the menu to be slightly pricier than the average steakhouse. With that in mind, the food and drinks are fairly priced and well worth it.

What stands out?  The staff are clearly carefully picked and extremely well trained. When you are served by one of the Grill House staff it feels as though you are being consulted by a professional, rather than being waited on. The service was top-notch and all the waiters were more than willing to step in, regardless of how busy they appeared to be.

Suitable for business meetings? Absolutely. There is a bar where most patrons have to wait before being seated for informal meetings, but the restaurant itself is perfectly suited to entertaining clients. The background noise is not overwhelming, so business meetings are definitely possible. The Grill House also has private rooms which can accommodate from eight to 60 people.

The Butcher Shop and Grill

This is meat country, and you know things are fresh when the resident butcher is at hand to cut your steak to your exact specifications, writes Janet Fourie.

Location: The Butcher Shop and Grill overlooks Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton’s business district. It seats a whopping 650 guests ranging from businessmen to government officials.  According to manager Corrado Tomassini, the kitchen turns over 1000 meals a day and sells the most bottles of wine in the country from its small, but well-stocked, cellar. Owner Alan Pick is the biggest buyer of wine at the Cape Wine Makers Guild and many of the bottles available at the restaurant boast customised ‘Pick’s Pick’ labels.

Atmosphere: The restaurant is a hive of activity from the moment you walk in. There are foreigners toasting each other, groups of businessmen tucking into healthy-sized meals and waiters scurrying by with large cuts of beef. The restaurant has a masculine feel, with countertops lined with bottles of wine, taxidermy adorning the walls and the odd knife collection hanging in frames.

Food: Size counts. The portions are not delicate. Although the Butcher Shop is the restaurant that sells the largest number of oysters in South Africa, according to Corrado, we opted for an all meat option. We started off with some tasty chicken wings which were presented differently from the traditional way. The wings were skewered and stretched across a kebab stick. For my main meal, I ordered cubed fillet in olive oil and rosemary. The beef had a lovely flavour but the side orders were less than impressive. My partner ordered a fillet steak with a peppercorn coating, which looked perfect before he cut into it and discovered that it wasn’t warm inside. The manager was quick to rectify the situation and managed to whip up another fillet that was to their usual standards. We ended off the evening with a berry crumble served with ice-cream. I managed about a quarter of this over-sized dessert, before I decided to call it a day. After all, this meal had set me back about three full days in the gym! 

Price: A starter will cost you around R50. Depending on your specifications for your cut of meat, you are looking at R130 excluding side orders which cost in the region of R30 per dish. The average price of a dessert is R50, unless you select the Meerlust Grappa sticks which were going for R114 per box.

The Best Part: What I liked about this dining spot is that you are the master of your own destiny. Your meat is cut to your requirements with regard to size and flavour and you can add a wide range of side orders to accompany your meal.

Signature dish: If I were a man with a large appetite and a good-sized wallet in my pocket I would have ordered the Giant ‘aged’ T-bone steak with all the extras and a fine bottle of Pick’s Pick Merlot to wash it down.

 

Meat Company @ Monte Casino

<blurb> The upmarket, Meat Company accommodates 362 fans, has two kitchens, and prides itself on serving tantalising steaks, upholding the brand throughout the world and admitting that the secret to their success is to stick to the basics. Popular with all the teams, their wives and girlfriends, this is a pitch that everyone can play on! Melissa Jane Cook gets a taste.

Location: Just off William Nicol, the entertainment Mecca, Monte Casino resides. Within this space proudly stands The Meat Company. Booking before the big game is recommended as prime seating is in high demand. Rest assured there is an enormous amount of security, and parking your car in one of the numerous parking venues is extremely safe and secure.  

Atmosphere: Being the appointed referee for the evening, I was greeted with exuberance by the mascot, Sylvia, who embraced me with great warmth. As I was led to my spot on the pitch, the cheers of the fans greeted me. Led by John, the captain, the waiting team was incredibly accommodating and the service impeccable. Orange retro lights provided a warm glow which radiated a sense of warmth and coziness. In terms of practicalities, as the spectators rushed to find their seats there was a slight congestion at the top of the stairs, so possibly more ushers are needed to seat the fans more quickly.

Food: Famous for their steak, The Meat Company offers a choice of three ways to prepare it – house basting, pepper crusted  with mustard seeds, coarse salt and black pepper, or just fired plain with oil. Once the anthems were sung I prepared myself for the gripping game by nibbling on delectable halloumi cheese which was deliciously accompanied by sundried tomatoes and rocket. Kick-off was underway and, 200 grams of succulent, exquisitely tender fillet later, the goal posts were in sight. Smothered in a blue cheese and vodka sauce, this was an ecstatically applauded free kick! My linesman who had ravished the 600 gram pork spare ribs agreed with my decision that The Meat Company is a steakhouse to be reckoned with and scores a goal every game. The food arrived timeously and the presentation and portions were just perfect to fuel us going into extra time. The penalty shoot-out was decided by the decadent, creamy chocolate mousse, and with that, the final whistle was blown. 

Pricing: Ticket prices vary depending on meat served, be it on a hamburger, a variety of steaks or one of the many other non-meat choices offered

Signature Dish: The Meat Company believes that every dish is a Signature Dish, but specifically the fillet mignon  medallions served on croutons smothered in a creamy mushroom sauce seems to be the steak de résistance!

World Cup: The Meat Company has risen to the occasion by creating a truly South African experience with their new World Cup menu. A blow on the vuvuzela for you,  Meat Company!

 

The Bull Run

With consumer interest in The Bull Run’s many commodities listings at an all-time high, the Sandton-based restaurant offers an excellent hedge against hunger, writes Chris Reilly

Location: The Bull Run restaurant forms a cosy annex between its sister hotel, the famous Balalaika, and the trendy Village Walk shopping centre in Maud Street, Sandton. It’s strategically positioned in the heart of Jozi’s financial district, virtually rubbing shoulders with the Johannesburg Securities Exchange, HSBC and Deutsche Bank, with a vault-ful of global banking brands a short limo ride away. 

Atmosphere: It bears no resemblance whatsoever to a trading floor; in fact it exudes a calm and cosy ambience, filled by day with confident traders and by night with up-market tourists and in-the-know locals. General Manager Andrew Duminy commands a team of professionals that offer sage advice, personalised service and excellent products.

Food: Ingestment opportunities with high flavour returns are medium to rare, but a thorough perusal of The Bull Run’s stock portfolio reveals a delicious selection of tasteful options from top culinary sectors of the market. Trading kicks off with two equities showing huge potential: garlic snails bathed in a subtle, spiced garlic sauce promising thrilling long-term gains, and a grilled brinjal caprice salad with quartered tomatoes and thin slices of mozzarella lightly drizzled with basil pesto, a steady performer. My personal investment adviser, Sipho Mashego, recommends a foray into livestock futures, the medium-rare fillet stuffed with jalapenos, feta, Café de Paris herb butter, and wrapped in bacon with baked potato wedges. The issue looks bullish within minutes of listing. Its striking pepper flavours are tempered by the ‘warm red centre’, as described in the prospectus.

My co-investor dives headlong into marine stocks, betting on grilled sea bream almost awash in a lemon-butter sauce, with deep-fried potato chips. Its high, spice-yearnings ratio is excellent, with delicate flavours to compliment its moist, delicate flesh. What superb taste dividends! A unique hybrid agricultural stock, the amazing avocado and biltong salad, is a revelation, with an unidentifiable dressing adding just the right amount of zest. The Bull Run also offers ample liquidity to investors; the Boschendal Pinot Noir Chardonnay adds a refreshing twist to the seafood. The soft, earthy flavour of the award-winning Bull Run Red complements the rump perfectly, layering taste upon taste with each sip.

Crowning the portfolio has to be the Amarula malva pudding. Its liqueur-tinged custard coating is the worst-kept secret on the market. The entire share offering is snapped up immediately, calling for a consolation stock issue in the form of The Bull Run’s Crème Brûlée, infused with fresh blackberries (the fruit, not the phone!).

Price: The Bull Run’s comprehensive stock portfolio conveniently lists price variances between its 2000 launch and the present day for every item. Not only are the stocks a hunger-hedge, but inflation-busters as well, averaging only 8.4% annually.

The Best Part: Undoubtedly, the in-house Butchery run by Karl-Heinz Leske, offering a tantalising range of fresh cuts to be vacuum-packed and taken home. I highly recommend investing in this portfolio…

 

The Cattle Baron

For more than two decades, the Cattle Baron has been serving ‘The finest cut meat grilled to perfection’. They still make use of the old-fashioned charcoal grill, believing it results in a far better-tasting steak. Kirsti Brocklehurst puts their grill to the test.

Location: Located in Little Falls, off Hendrik Potgieter, the Cattle Baron is easy to find and is in a prime location on the West Rand. There is plenty of parking, as it is located in a retail crossing. However, as there are two other restaurants within the same complex, you may have to park a little farther away at times. There are car guards present, so your car is looked after for the duration of your meal.

Atmosphere: The atmosphere in the restaurant was lively, with a constant hum of conversation. I had to listen closely as our waiter read out the specials, but other than this, it added to the friendly atmosphere – one doesn’t feel uncomfortable having a conversation. It was very easy to hear my dinner companion and to hold a conversation. The staff was welcoming, from the hostess to our waiter, Andrew.

Food: The food was superb. It was cooked just as we asked, and was offered on hot or cold plates, and we were warned that if we had the hot plate, it would continue to cook the food for a while afterwards. The portions were fair and, even though I may have thought 200g was tiny, when it arrived with my side vegetable and mashed potatoes, it was perfect! The presentation was simple, and is all about the steak. The vegetables come separately so that you can have as much or as little as you want. I went for the uncomplicated fillet steak, as it is my favourite, and I was not disappointed. My partner chose the Pepper FilletMadagascar, which was also delicious (I had a taste!).

Pricing: The pricing is very reasonable, with some more elaborate meals offered, but also some great specials, such as the Cattle Baron steak – a 400g rump or sirloin for under R120, with your choice of sauce, and 15% off fillet on Tuesdays. There are several signature dishes – listed under ‘Steaks that made us Famous’. They include the Chateaubriand (we saw them light one up), the Pepper FilletMadagascar, the Carpet Bag Steak and the Bronco Buster T-bone.

The best part: My favourite thing about the meal was the dessert. Although my fillet was divine, crème brûlée holds a special place in my heart. And I loved the added touch of having the sugar melted at the table by the waiter using a handheld blow torch.