60 Carrington St Sydney, NSW 2000
|Opening hours||Mon-Tue 11.30am-11pm; Wed-Thu 11.30am-midnight; Fri-Sat 11.30am-1am|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Phone||02 9299 9997|
Anyone who says nobody is eating red meat any more hasn't dropped in to Bopp & Tone for lunch. It's steak for days, hot off an American-made Grillworks wood-fired grill brought in from the United States at great expense ($80,000).
While it ramps the heat up to Hades, it also allows the chef to raise and lower the grill over a span of 45 centimetres.
While it's rare for me to order a steak for lunch – about as rare as making an appallingly meaty pun, perhaps – I'd have to say "well done" to Bopp & Tone for managing to deliver pretty much what you want in a steak when you want a steak for lunch.
The 300-gram Brooklyn Valley grass-fed black angus rib-eye ($53) comes precisely the way I ordered it.
The "between rare and medium-rare but closer to the rare" order means there's enough time on the grill to achieve crust and char and not enough time to cook the life out of it.
This meat moves to the touch of a fork, as darkly crimson as a fit of rage; not set in a single shade of ruby-red from one side to the other but offering different, interesting gradations on the theme.
Along with a gleaming Josper charcoal oven, the grill is the heart and soul of the latest offering from Applejack Hospitality's Ben Carroll and Hamish Watts of The Botanist, The Butler and Social Neutral Bay.
Named for the pair's grandfathers, Keith "Bopp" Evans and Anthony "Tone" Adams, the former Steel Bar & Grill has been flipped into a theatrical post-colonial dining room and light-filled alfresco terrace by Luchetti Krelle.
You've heard of comfort food? This is comfort decor; all marble, timber and velvet, bentwood chairs, revolving fans and traveller palms.
Head chef Sa Va'afasuaga and exec chef Jason Roberson soften the steak offering with Mediterranean vibes – cured meat platters, pork and veal tonnato, pipis with fregola.
An appetiser of baked mozzarella on lemon leaves ($17) comes via Capri with a nice smoky citrusy tang, although the cheese has the firm texture of haloumi, and butterflied Mooloolaba king prawns with garlic, chilli and oregano ($9 each) could have done with less time on the Josper.
Three small, whole, precisely scored Hawkesbury River calamari ($29) sing with smoke and sweetness, with a pool of black ink aioli and blackened lemon; their spindly cartwheels of tentacles a value-added bonus.
That steak, by the way, comes with lemon cheek and a slick of tangy black garlic barbecue sauce. Salt-and-vinegar fries ($9) are fun on the side.
It seems people still drink at lunchtime, too; and there are plenty of options by the glass.
A savoury Big Easy Radio 2016 Cosmic Antennae tempranillo/touriga ($14) from McLaren Vale, is typical of the fashion-forward wine list.
Oh, boring – custard tart ($15) is deconstructed into chunky shards of crisp pastry, interleaved with roasted, not-quite-ripe peach and patisserie cream that prove once again that a whole tart is greater than the sum of its deconstructed parts.
And in a final report from the city dining trenches, who knew that nobody orders espresso coffee anymore? Instead, it's cheeky espresso martinis all round – on a Friday, at least.
Steaks, red wines, comfort decor, happy hours – Bopp & Tone slots easily into the CBD business culture, cooked somewhere between medium and well done.
Bopp & Tone
Drinks: Classic cocktails made with Australian ingredients, craft beers and a "cool kids" natural-leaning wine list
Vegetarian: A Botanical section lists six plant-based dishes, which can be vegan on request
Go-to dish: 300g grass-fed Brooklyn Valley rib-eye steak, $53
Pro tip: There's a $25 quick smart lunch menu available from the bar from Monday to Thursday