For this week’s Taste Off, steak was on the menu. It may not be the friend of vegetarians, but for meat lovers world wide, sometimes there is nothing better than a good steak.
Your votes pointed us in two directions, both polar opposites in the steak race. The first was the Charcoal Grill, who have been serving steak to hungry Canberrans for 52 years. The second was the Kingston Hotel, also known fondly as the Kingo – who serve up a steak for you to grill yourself.
First stop was the Charcoal Grill. I’m locally born and bred but have never been before. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that. The décor doesn’t look like it has changed in their 52 years of trade and the restaurant felt like a bit of an old boys club (I think I was the only woman other than the waitress), but we weren’t there for the décor, we were there for the meat.
We ordered a 250g sirloin, although they go to far bigger and more expensive cuts. The steak is served up with a side of chips and some steamed vegies. For $29. Salads, sauces and onions can all be ordered separately.
I like my steak medium rare and this is exactly how it came. The knife went through the steak like butter and it melted in the mouth with that lovely soft meatiness encased in a charcoaled coat. It was pretty d*mn good and there is no wonder these guys are still in business after so many storms have wiped restaurants off the Canberra scene.
The next day called for lunch at the Kingo. I took my husband along, who I suspect may have moved to Canberra for the Kingo as much as his love for me. I mean, cooking your own steak, watching the footy and drinking a beer? For him, life doesn’t get much better. We ordered our steaks – I had an Angus scotch fillet, which was bigger than I expected and for $24 comes with a salad plate and a bread roll. We popped them on the grill and grabbed some drinks. Now I am no steak chef but hubbie is alright. The steak came off medium rare (although not quite as rare as the Charcoal Grill) and went down well with the salad.
In all honesty, these are two different joints for different occasions. And the culinary experience of cooking your own meat versus having it cooked for you is going to depend heavily on your own steak-cooking prowess.
For me, if we’re talking purely about the end product of the cooked steak on the plate, the Charcoal wins hands down. Particularly for a special occasion with a steak lover, work lunch or step back in time to the 60s.
But, if you’re after a pretty good steak in a relaxed and social atmosphere – maybe with a group of slightly rowdy mates – head to the Kingo.