Recently, I met a new friend who blatantly refuses to have beef on his plate. Why?! Having gone back to Asia to see New Zealand beef and lamb labelled so proudly on menus, I was just offended the overseas visitor didn’t want to try steak right here in NZ.
As an unabashed carnivore, I’ve always had my eye on Sean Connolly’s The Grill – known for their succulent steaks that make you never want to eat a regular piece of steak again. Even before the restaurant opened, it was well under the public eye for the reality show Under the Grill, which documented Connolly’s journey to opening the multi-million dollar restaurant.
From their gold embossed logo, the chocolate brown leather seats, to the succulent cuts of meat served on wooden boards with heavy artisan steak knives – The Grill is masculine, it’s luxurious. The downsides to this popular restaurant was like too many contemporary or fine dining restaurants, lights were dimmed to a minimum with candles flickering across your faces. Seats, while comfortable were a bit too close to our neighbours – and too many times, I caught the eyes of my neighbours staring at my food.
Buffalo Haloumi, spiced honey
There’s nothing like filling your whole stomach with cheese during the first course but I gave in to the amazing sounding combination of haloumi and honey. And fair enough, the generous dousing of honey across the crispy top layer of haloumi was heaven upon first bite.
Salmon gravlax, cos, avocado, chardonnay dressing
For my more health conscious friends, the salmon gravlax was also an easy win. The salad was crispy and zesty and wrapped perfectly around the salmon.
Short rib of beef
Being much more comfortable slicing through a juicy steak than cutting meat off a bone, I was pleasantly surprised when the meat fell cleanly off the bone. Presented on a bare chopping board, I did not once put the knife down as I continued to slice more and more of the tender beef, oozing with meat juices.
Wild venison chilli
My companions’ mains of wild venison chilli was sadly in no way to match the short rib that I had in front of me. In a casserole pan form filled with beans and chilli, the main could have belonged more rightly on a mexican menu with tacos to match. And of course, every cut through my own steak was a cut through their hearts.
Treacle tart with vanilla bean custard
It’s the stage in course meal where your stomach tells you that you’ve had enough but the dessert menu whispers sweetly through your thoughts. Of course, you wouldn’t normally go to The Grill unless you’re there for a special occasion, which is always the excuse for ordering that extra side of duck fat chips and slathering on that rich butter. And the meal is not complete without dipping your spoon into some form of sweetness.
Maybe it was the heftiness of the meal before but I reminisced more of The Depot’s sugar pie next door for their nonchalant simpleness. Or maybe age is catching on and I’m starting to lean more towards uncomplicated and clean flavours than stark decadence.
You can be guaranteed a brilliant cut of steak at The Grill – it’s time to convince my friend to give NZ beef a go before leaving the country. You’ll be promised a rich decadent night out. Their Grilled For Time menu is worth mentioning, for 2 courses for $35 or 3 for $45 if seated before 6:30pm. Otherwise you could easily be spending $60 on one main alone once you’ve decided which side to go along with it.
90 Federal Street, Auckland
Ph: +64 9 363 7067