The soft opening for Steer Bar & Grill (real opening September 1, www.steerbarandgrill.com.au) as the venue for a major Wolf Blass showcase celebrating 10 vintages of Platinum Label Shiraz was, how should I put it, interesting. A wet and cold day with warm blooded Blass red wines accompanied, so I imagined, by a large slab of South American style beef seemed a good way to stoke the fire within. We tasted some very interesting wines (more anon) before finally sitting down to lunch with a string of Wolf Blass reds pre-set on the table in front of us. The 2006 Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Shiraz Malbec was matched with Organic beetroot and sarsparilla, blackcurrant and cavalo nero, with a tiny smattering of brightly coloured bits ‘n’ pieces on the merest whisp of a foam bed. You couldn’t criticise the match, because the food was gone in a flash anyway. Then we moved to my theoretical slab of steak to accompany five vintages of Platinum Label Shiraz. The menu described it as Gippsland Natural pasture fed rump, acai and potato dauphinoise, and we were in fact served with a cuisine minceur offering of three tiny slices of beautifully cooked sous vide steak and a little square of potato dauphinoise.
Notwithstanding the huge bull effigy welcoming everyone as they entered, the explanation (apparently) is that Argentinean and Chilean approaches to beef are very different to that of Brazil, for the restaurant’s subtitle is Arte da culinaria Brasileria. Chef Stacy Thompson and wine director Raul Moreno Yague both have impressive CVs: Stacy starting in his native New Zealand, crossing the United Kingdom and Australia after a stint in the island of Morro de Sao Paulo in Brazil where, despite his very limited Portuguese, he leased a local restaurant from its owners, gutted and redesigned its layout, and created a successful restaurant that maintained integrity and respect for Brazilian cuisine. That must have taken considerable courage.