Meat. It’s the reason, many scientists claim, that us humans were able to evolve to have large brains. These days society is a mix of vegan, vegetarian and meat-eaters and the newly established Meatmaiden, recognises this. Opening her doors last week on Little Collins street, the underground venue welcomes both vegetarians and meat-lovers with open arms.
So let us take you on the tour.
First you start on Little Collins and Russell street, walking south passed the roadworks on the lane. To the left you see the glowing neon sign with the words ‘MEATMAIDEN’ lighting up the sidewalk. Walking through the doors you find yourself in a lobby – elevators on one side, double doors with a mural in front of you. Pushing your way through the doors, down the industrial staircase, you hear the sounds of music and you know you’ve found another Melbourne must-try restaurant. The space is filled with dark wood, low lights and a giant sign that spells ‘HEART’ over the bar. You grab a booth against the wall and settle in with your friends.
The menu is not just meat, much to your delight. One of your friends is sort-of vegetarian, refusing to eat meat but will consider fish (formally known as a pescetarian), and the other two are all-round foodies. For starters, you settle on the pickled heirloom veg, chilli and goat curd, some beef jerky and some southern-fried chicken ribs with tequila mayo.
The heirloom veg surprises you – it’s tart, crunchy and fresh. It’s very refreshing against the flavours of the beef jerky, which is chewy and well-matched with the house-made BBQ sauce. The chicken ribs are delightful and the mayo is almost like an aioli.
There is quite a bit of discussion around mains – who will have what? Your sort-of vegetarians friend has opted for two entrees; Cajun seared tuna, horseradish and avocado with some lobster mac and cheese. You and the other three decide to share the 20-hour Ranger Valley Wagyu brisket, native Tassie pepper berry rub and the O’Conner pasture-fed flat iron steak. You also throw in some hand cut chips on the side.
The meals come out and you’re immediately jealous of your friends lobster mac. It’s homely, creamy and so damn tasty. The Cajun tuna is also pretty amazing – you’re surprised at how nicely the flavour balances between the fish and the Cajun spices used.
The brisket and the flat iron are also pretty amazing but secretly you enjoy the flat iron more as as it’s succulent and full of flavour. The brisket just pulls apart with the tips of your fork and the smokey flavours fill your mouth.
Next comes dessert and everybody agrees to order all three items to share – crack mum’s apple pie with vanilla ice cream, a choc-bar with raspberry sorbet and a sundae diner with peanut brittle. YUM!
The desserts that come out are the perfect way to finish the night. It’s easy to forget you are in a restaurant where the sole focus is your dining companions, particularly with the poor underground reception. The desserts are delicious with everybody at the table fighting for just one more bite of the chocolate bar with its rich, creamy chocolate ganache centre. The peanut brittle is also super delicious but not made for sharing, unlike the ice cream sitting beneath it which was also rich to eat. It’s a good thing that the raspberry sorbet from Fritz Gelato is so fresh that it cut through it all!
The night is coming to a close and everyone is stupidly full – including your sort-of vegetarian friend. You excitedly reflect on your favourite dishes and what a great night out it has been catching up on old times. Staggering out of the venue, you enter the cool night, wrapping your jackets close around your hips. Meatmaiden proved to be the perfect place for dinner, but you knew that of course, because you read this review.
The Modern Connoisseur dined as a guest of Meatmaiden. All opinions and views are true and honest to the contributor’s experience.
195 Little Collins Street, Basement