Australians love a good roast or barbecue, but when it comes to meat nothing beats a top quality steak. We’re an agricultural nation renowned for our premium produce, but fortunately some of the finest cuts never leave the country. Here are some of South Australia’s best spots to tuck into a hearty steak.
Words Alexis Buxton-Collins
Cover Image BK Agency
At The Caledonian, they take their steaks seriously. You can order yours done however you like, but manager Fiona Nairn is clear on one thing. “Regardless of how much or little the steak is cooked it needs to have a crust. This cannot be burnt as it becomes very bitter – it should be just a delicious golden colour.” That caramelisation results in a rich, flavoursome steak that’s tender and has all the juices sealed in. At The Caledonian, they cook their steaks on a flat stainless steel plate to maximise the surface area then season and baste it with a secret in-house sauce.
Each cut is treated differently to highlight its best features. The rump cap, for instance, is cooked sous vide at a low temperature to tenderise the meat before being finished on the chargrill so it has the trademark crust on the outside. And regardless which steak you choose, it tastes even better knowing that it’s 25 per cent off with the purchase of any drink.
Tasting Room head chef Mark Wright says the secret to great steak is simple. “Firstly you need to get a piece of Mayura full blood wagyu!” The boutique beef producer on the Limestone Coast was responsible for the second ever shipment of full-blood Japanese black-haired wagyu cattle into Australia and their herd is now the envy of the industry.
Each animal is on a feeding program that includes two kilograms of chocolate per day for four months and the result is beef with the perfect balance of flavour, tenderness and richness and an average marble score of nine. And while much of that beef is exported, the onsite restaurant offers the ultimate paddock to plate experience.
The Tasting Room offers three and four course set menus and every course except the last showcases Mayura’s wagyu beef. This allows diners to compare different cuts for richness and texture. A sample menu might include lightly smoked tomahawk, thinly sliced rib eye poached in dashi stock or even lesser known cuts like zabuton or bavette. No wonder it’s been named Australia’s best steak restaurant.
A great steak begins its journey long before it hits the grill, and that’s something the team at The Pink Pig understands well. The family run restaurant and wine bar’s walls are lined with blue ribbons, but they’re not for the finished product – owner Peter Zacharia has never entered a cooking competition. Instead, those prizes are for the breeders around the state and country who have become personal friends since his family took over the North Adelaide institution 30 years ago.
Every cut at the Pink Pig comes from certified thousand guineas shorthorn beef, muscular cattle with the oldest breed registry in the world. The result is excellent marbling, a buttery flavour and seriously juicy steaks. And while those cuts are used in different ways – think pepper steak eye fillet and sirloin beef & reef – every steak is aged 21 to 28 days before being chargrilled and seasoned with salt, cracked pepper and olive oil to bring out the flavour.