When it comes to a classic, charcoal-grilled steak, it can be hard to gild the lily. However, CBD restaurant Botswana Butchery has set out to do just that, with an opulent wagyu tomahawk covered in gold leaf.
The 1.6 kilogram steak is part of the "Botswana Gold" experience at the new Martin Place fine-diner, costing $500 per person for a multi-course menu that also features gold flecked martinis and gold-leaf topped oysters with caviar.
"It's been a mixed bag on social media," says Darren Templeman, the head chef of Botswana Butchery who brings the gilded steak to diners. "People [are] saying it's a bit too ritzy, but the actual customers who have come in and had the experience absolutely love it."
The experience comes off the back of social media-famous chef Nusret Gokçe (better known as Salt Bae) causing a global commotion last year for offering a similar gold-covered 1.8 kilogram steak for £850 ($1500) at his London restaurant.
"I don't think the gold adds more flavour to the steak, it's more of a visual effect," says Templeman.
The idea is the brainchild of Good Group Hospitality, Botswana Butchery's New Zealand-based owners.
"They wanted to put us on the map, so this is something that will make us really stand out in the Sydney market," says Templeman. "To be honest, it's not a huge money-maker."
Botswana Butchery is among a slew of high-end restaurants dancing with slimming profit margins to sell Australia's best quality steaks.
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James Bradey operates Sydney CBD steakhouse Bistecca, where a wood-fired T-bone is the only main course on the menu. He says the restaurant has long been in battle with a volatile supply chain.
"With first the fires and drought, then COVID and now floods, plus workforce costs … the price we're paying for our meat has probably gone up 40 per cent [in the past year]," says Bradey, who is selling steak for $16 per 100 grams at Bistecca, compared to $13 when the restaurant opened in 2018.
Meanwhile, Crown Sydney's Japanese fine-diner Nobu is trying not to put all beef-sourcing eggs in one basket, by providing both an Australian and Japanese option for their wagyu.
Nobu's Japanese wagyu is $110 more than the Australian offering, which head chef Harold Hurtada attributes to Japan's hyper-tailored farming and breeding practices.
Hurtada sources tajima wagyu, a particular bloodline known for its marbling. "The quality and texture of [Japanese] wagyu is much more tender compared to Australian wagyu," he says. "It's more buttery".
Looking to go all out on a super luxe steak? Here are the Sydney restaurants serving the best of the best.
Australia's leading steakhouse has been wood-firing knockout steaks for Sydney's lunch set for the past 13 years. A 500 gram Mishima rib-eye ($310) aged for 39 days is the pick of the grill, sourced from legendary cattle breeder David Blackmore in Victoria. Mishima cows are often described as the "first native Japanese cattle" and Blackmore's incredibly juicy lineage is exclusive to Rockpool.
For a long time, chef Lennox Hastie served the best steak in Sydney, dry-aged to create flavours of mushroom, blue cheese and buttery popcorn. These days, Firedoor switches up a $155 five-course menu with the best ingredients available each week, but beautifully aged retired dairy cow still makes a regular appearance. Note that reservations for the woodfire powered restaurant open three months in advance and go like the clappers.
23-33 Mary Street, Surry Hills
Come prepared with some conversation points at this ornate Italian fine-diner, as the chefs will need 45 to 60 minutes to cook a 1.4 kilogram wagyu T-bone ($290) on the grill. It's dry-aged for 15 days with a marble beef score (MBS) of five, but outshined in the luscious fat stakes by a 250 gram wagyu sirloin ($220) with a nine-plus MBS. Few steaks in Australia are more marbled than that.
Choose your own steak adventure with 150 grams of Australian beef ($165) or Japanese wagyu ($275) cooked in a range of style options such as tataki (very lightly seared), or toban yaki (roasted on a hot ceramic plate).
As the name might suggest, this Crown restaurant is serious about wood. Its curated range of steak is wood-grilled over ironbark, and left to rest near embers for delicate, smoky flavour. There's a steak here to suit everyone except vegetarians, from a 200 gram grass-fed tenderloin to an 800 gram wagyu rib-eye ($260).
Ground Level, 1 Barangaroo Avenue, Sydney.
The Criterion Hotel – Black Angus Rump – $12
Bar Totti's – Brooklyn Valley Sirloin – $15
Botswana Butchery – David Blackmore 7+MBS Wagyu Flank – $25
Shellhouse Dining Room & Terrace – Hanger Steak – $32
Rockpool Bar & Grill – David Blackmore 9+MBS Mishima Rib-Eye – $62
Woodcut – Stone Axe 9+MBS Full Blood Wagyu Sirloin – $70
Seta – 2GR 9+MBS Full Blood Wagyu Sirloin – $88