Steak Tartare first appeared over one hundred years ago in the grand hotels of France, originally as raw minced beef mixed with seasonings and condiments, finely chopped capers and cornichons with a raw egg, and later with the addition of Worcestershire sauce. In this original formula, it truly is a splendid dish. To be at its best, the meat needs to be freshly cut, and the classiest versions mix the meat and accoutrements at the table. At the very least, if the dish is plated, the tartare should be freshly mixed to order, and not pre-prepared.
While Steak Tartare had an earlier heyday in the 1950s and 1980s, today you don't need to nip off to Paris to sample this brasserie dish; all the smartest restaurants in Sydney have it back on their menues. And although the classical dish is still mostly associated with French cuisine, we are seeing some innovative contemporary versions around town. If you haven't tried it, now is the time to give Steak Tartare a go. Here's our pick of the best five in Sydney:
1. glass brasserie
Hilton Sydney, 2/488 George Street, Sydney +61 2 9265 6068
Chef Luke Mangan's traditional version is our long-time favourite. He's currently using Beef City fillet steak, hand cut to order, served with quenelles of capers, eschalot, white anchovy and cornichons. The steak is mixed with cognac and parsley and served in a traditional mould, and then topped with a quail egg yolk, and finished with salt and pepper. The glass brasserie steak tartare winner is mixed at the table, and is available as entrée or as a main, with frites.
glass brasserie has also introduced a contemporary and equally delicious tartare: Cervena venison from NZ, fillet steak hand cut to order, served with black garlic puree, ponzu, avruga caviar and tapioca squid ink crisp.
The venison is mixed through with ponzu, topped with micro herbs, the garlic puree, and avruga caviar the crisps of tapioca are served on the side of the dish.
You know you want it. You know you want to have them both.
2. The Butler
123 Victoria Street, Potts Point +61 2 8354 0742
The sumptuous mound of gorgeous delight is spiked by the traditional sharpness of capers and cornichons, perfectly cut in tiny uniform size, and offset with a freeform paperthin crisp. This is a really wonderful offering.
3. Pilu At Freshwater
Moore Rd, Freshwater +61 2 9938 3331
Italian restaurant, Pilu At Freshwater has devised a handsome Steak Tartare using Wagyu beef with bottarga mayonnaise, fresh green peas and nameko mushrooms. In his elegant version, Chef Giovanni Pilu follows the modern trend with hand cut meat, of larger pieces. The tiny fresh peas are a surprise to the palate that provide really refreshing flavour and textural contrasts.
4. Bishop Sessa
527 Crown Street, Surry Hills +61 2 8065 7223
Nose to tail Chef Paul Cooper smokes the egg yolk for his incredible Steak Tartare, to create his deeply enriching flavour entrée sensation. The hero of the dish is superb too, as all the Bishop Sessa beef comes in whole from Gundoee Organics Wagyu from Dunedoo and is butchered on the premises.
5. O Bar and Dining
Level 47, Australia Square 264 George Street, Sydney +61 2 9247 9777
This is the time to use grain feed rump says Chef Darren Templeman as he goes Korean with his fingerfood Steak Tartare. Templeman's Steak Tartare is sweet and sour, chilli hot and spicy, is served san choy bow style in a lettuce leaf and topped with puffed beef tendon. Take it with a cooling cocktail like a Gibson, and of course with the panaromic top of Australia Square view.
Steak Tartare is also highly recommended at Fix St. James, The Tilbury Hotel Restaurant, French bistro Felix, and Black By Ezard at The Star and you'll find a delicious a veal tartare disguised as Vitello Tonnato at Ormeggio at The Spit.