Review: The Meat and Wine Co – Hawthorn East

Originally posted on The AU Review (December 2, 2016)

As a well-endowed dining district, Melbourne is a hub for innovative food trends and quality multicultural cuisine. However, it is The Meat and Wine Co that fills the small gap missing in this foodie city with their Afro-centric style.

Specialists in premium meats, wine and trending dishes, The Meat and Wine Co recently launched a fresh new menu, highlighting true African flavours and techniques used to pack a punch in some of their most popular dishes. Carefully crafted by Head chef Peter Papow, this revitalised menu has launched nationally across their six locations covering both Melbourne and Sydney.

The soft drumming of African music filled the dimly lit interior on my recent visit. An interior with a variety of textures: firm straw accents, artifacts, smooth tiles and sleek shelving to exhibit an exceptional collection of wines.

Like their impressive fitout, this new menu also features a combination of textures paired with a variety of complementary flavours that jump from the meal. Their vegetarian dish of Chickpea and Cumin Croquettes is a prime example. While the idea may appear simple, the croquettes are packed with strong flavours of coriander, toasted pine nuts, and beetroot.

The crunch behind each bite of the croquettes, with its smooth cauliflower puree and tangy goats cheese curd, provides a mouthful of delightful textures. Paired with sweet red pepper jam and grilled king brown mushroom, the dish combines the series of complex flavours perfectly.

As recipients of many awards, the title of “meat specialists” does not come lightly. Their Monte Grain T-Bone, grain fed for 120 days, is surely one of the best in the city. A premium line of beef, exclusive to The Meat and Wine Co, was handled with love and care, delicately cooked medium-rare and topped with black garlic butter, a bold flavour to contrast the tender meat.

On the side, a 12-hour roasted potato was placed on the table. A simple side dish to complement the meat. Topped with sour cream and spring onion, the potato was pleasantly crisp on the outside, a wrapping to reveal a soft, warm inside.

Their Beef Carpaccio made with Wagyu beef, parmesan cream, green dressing, pickled shallots and herbs expertly follows The Meat and Wine Co’s style of appearance and flavour. Impressive presentation, with an array of flavours and textures from the tender Wagyu beef and silky cream to linger on the tongue.

The pickled shallots are more of an Asian addition to the dish and is similar to their 10-hour cooked Char-grilled Teriyaki Pork Belly. A dish more Asian inspired, with the pork’s teriyaki flavour, dried kimchi, and served with raw adzuki beans, cucumber, Spanish onion, and yuzu dressing was a confusing combination and menu item for an establishment that aims to adhere to African heritage. While the dish in its entirety was perfection on a plate, it was certainly out of place.

For those wanting a refreshing dessert, you cannot skip out on the MWC Magnus, a beautifully plated South African dessert of an Amarula semifreddo popsicle. A dessert not too heavily sweet, set with a refreshingly light creamy texture. With rooibos tea jelly, apricot marmalade and a light crunch of the buttermilk rusk crumbs, the dessert was certainly the highlight of the night that truly highlighted the South African influence.

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