Open and cut case: The Point is on a mission to serve great steaks. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
Steady-as-she-goes restaurants such as The Point often miss out on the attention offered to just-launched queues-out-the-door establishments. But older restaurants are often better, more consistent exemplars of hospitality. What they lack in the see-and-be-seen factor, they make up for in good food and service that understands the restaurant's mission.
The Point has been here since 1996 and has maintained a clear direction – a focus on great steak, a crisp approach to fine dining – through ownership and chef changes. Current stewards, owner Rabih Yanni and chef Justin Wise, have steady hands on the wheel and The Point feels as good as it ever has.
The glass dining room is lovely and twinkly by day or night, and the service is professional and informative; for example, I now know that xinomavro means "black acid" in Greek and is the name of an astringent, vibrant wine that made fine work of a tour de pork (crisp-skinned belly, sweet and fatty terrine, pink loin and pig's ear salad). Radishes and liquorice sauce brought spark and levity to a very tasty dish.
Frolicsome fare: Quark cheesecake. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
There's a whole page of impressive steaks, with the provenance, feed, marbling scores and ageing practices all noted. A tasting plate walks the indecisive through some safer cuts – a couple of tender eye fillets and a juicy grain-fed porterhouse, with gorgeous charred crust, medium-rare interior, ace condiments, and a neat bone-marrow salad. In other words, exactly as you'd dare hope.
The fact that there's chateaubriand (beef for two carved at the table, a concept dating back to Napoleonic times) is a signpost to the retro appeal here and, of course, when you sell yourself on steak, the crowd leans more to the conservative than the cutting edge. That also explains an entree of cured scallops poised over a fan of finely sliced cucumber surrounding a dainty tomato concasse and topped with caviar. It's pretty and pleasing and you won't have to loosen your corset to fit it in. More modern, yet supremely comforting. is a parsnip soup poured over pine mushrooms, hazelnut crumbs and a poached quail egg.
Desserts are frolicsome. The chocolate nemesis is the kind of crazy-rich challenge that chocoholics relish, while the stunning rhubarb terrine is fresher, served with a tile of green-apple jelly and a cream-stuffed brandy snap.
Steer, 637 Chapel Street, South Yarra, 9040 1188. Friday, lunch; daily, dinner.
I don't think anywhere in Melbourne presents steak better than Steer. There are dozens of options for grilling and a range served tataki-style.
Little Hunter, Downstairs, 195 Little Collins Street, city, 9654 0090. Tues-Fri and Sun, lunch; Tues-Sat, dinner.
There's an American angle to the steaks here. Consider the New York strip with bearnaise sauce. Beef also features in the Lardy Cake dessert: quince is poached in beef fat and served with beef-fat caramel.
San Telmo, 14 Meyers Place, city, 9650 5525. Mon-Fri, breakfast; daily, lunch and dinner.
Argentinian-style steak means smoky charcoal-grilled cuts just begging for a good slathering of chimichurri (herb and garlic salsa).
- 039682 5566
- Cuisine - Contemporary
- Prices - Entrees, $24-$45; mains, $39-$115; desserts, $17-$21
- Features - Licensed
- Cards accepted - AMEX, Mastercard, Diners Club, Visa, EFTPOS
- Opening Hours - Daily, noon-3pm, 6pm-late
- Author - Dani Valent