Station HotelDecember 11, 2014
59 Napier Street, Footscray
Recently, I had a “West-side” dinner with my friend J at the Station Hotel in Footscray, to celebrate each of us finishing our final exams. Regular readers will know that my reviews tend to be about places in the city and Northern / Eastern suburbs. Given this, I was understandably keen to fill the Western space in my blog’s map. The Station Hotel was J’s suggestion: she had eaten there recently with a friend and described it to me as, ‘high-vis out front, fine dining at the back’. Arriving together, I found that she was absolutely correct!
The front room of the pub is just that: a pub, with the sports going on TV screens, plenty of locals in working gear tucking into pints and burgers, and a general loud atmosphere. Walking around the bar to the back room, things were completely different. Dark carpet and pendant lighting created a slightly romantic atmosphere, with linen napkins and wine glasses on every table. Despite it being a Tuesday night, the place was packed, absolutely packed, and felt like a real locals night with couples and families alike enjoying their steaks. I would’t call the atmosphere reserved, because there was quite a bit of energised conversation going on, but I would certainly say it was more polished that the front room.
To begin, we ordered a few entrees to share. There were plenty of delicious looking things on the menu, which I would describe as an old-fashioned steak house with a leaning towards French and Italian dishes. The menu was not unlike the menu at Rockpool, actually, with a pleasing offering of classics. Obviously, the steaks are the focus for the mains (although they also offer several other impressive sounding dishes), so entrees are a good time to branch out a bit.
The Hiramasa Kingfish ceviche with orange, fennel and dill was refreshing and delicious: a great starter to what was otherwise a meat-centric meal.
More in tune with the rest of the meal was the chicken liver parfait, smooth and delicious. A slightly sour glaze on top helped balance out the intense meaty flavour.
Despite the success of the first two entrees, the real winners for me were the cauliflower and cheese croquettes, an absolute steal at $12 for four. Hot, cheesy, crispy goodness, you really can’t go wrong!
Then, to the real star of the show, the thing we’ve all been waiting for, the dish the every person at every table in eyesight was eagerly hoeing into: the steak. Suffice to say that the people at the Station Hotel take their steaks very seriously. The staff are well-trained in the merits of each cut and breed, and the menu alone speaks to how popular their steaks are, with plenty to choose from. It was difficult to find a plate in the entire restaurant that wasn’t loaded up with steak!
Upon our waiter’s recommendation, I went with a steak specially on offer that evening: a 200g grain fed, marble score 9+, full blood bavette steak from Sher Wagyu in Ballan (VIC). It was bloody delicious, let me tell you. I could feel my iron-depleted blood cells whooping in joy as I tucked into this. I’ve never been very good at describing what different cuts of meat taste like: I can only tell which ones I prefer when tasting them, but I’ll have a go. Fatty, charred on the outside but deliciously soft and tender, this was phenomenally beefy compared to a traditional filet. Otherwise known as a flap steak (charming name), the French style bavette cut has a tendency to be tough, but this was beautifully tender, most likely because of it’s Wagyu marble score.
All steaks come with a side of hand cut chips, a salad, and two sauces: béarnaise and pepper. The béarnaise sauce was my side of choice, properly peppery and creamy, it worked so well with the steak. The chips were another standout, firm and crispy, and the salad wasn’t some insipid afterthought but rather a large half-plate of springy fresh leaves and red onion. It was generous and delicious.
J selected a lovely piece of rump from the regular menu – 250g of 30-day aged, grain fed Wagyu crossed with Black Angus from Security Foods (QLD). She said it was delicious and we both managed to scrape our plates clean, a sign of a good meal had.
To go with our steak dinner, we enjoyed a bottle of Red Claw Shiraz from Heathcote, a really beautiful wine. The wine list, much like the steak menu, was very reasonably priced – there were several bottles well below $50, while some comparable places in Melbourne wouldn’t offer anything under $60.
Despite our huge dinners, we quickly glanced at the dessert menu to see the words, Valrhona chocolate soufflé. ‘Right, that’s it, we’re getting the soufflé, no questions’, said J, authoritatively. I happily agreed.
The usual 20 minute wait for the soufflé gave us just enough time to digest a tad, and when it arrived, I could barely manage a few rushed photos before diving in. Is it just me, or does that action shot below turn anyone else on? With a textbook rise, fluffy texture and wonderful chocolate flavour, this was the perfect end to a romantic dinner for two (good friends)!
And that, my friends, was my steak dinner with J at the Station Hotel in Footscray. It was wholesome, it was kind of old school, and it was gosh darn delicious. Highly recommended, in fact I’m already planning a return visit!
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