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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Bistecca, Sydney

Bistecca alla fiorentina T-bone steaks at Bistecca Sydneymeltin

Steak. That's the only main you'll find at Bistecca, celebrating the Tuscan classic, bistecca alla Fiorentina. If you've ever harked for a quality T-bone, seasoned simply and cooked over glowing charcoal, this is the place for you.

Cocktails at the bar at Bistecca Sydney
Cocktails at the bar

Your first task is finding the place. George Street light rail roadworks aside, Bistecca is accessed by a set of dingy fire stairs leading you to the basement bar. Is the drab entrance a deliberate ploy to amplify your surprised delight when you enter the bar area? Maybe.

The second task you'll face is getting into the restaurant. Reservations are only accepted for dinner for groups of 6 of more. Any less and you'll have to depend on walk-in availability. Only when your entire table is present will you be shown through the secret door leading to the dining room.

Mobile phone lockers at Bistecca Sydney
Optional locked drawers for mobile phone storage

Here's another challenge. Diners are encouraged to have their mobile phones secured in a locked drawer for the duration of their meal. It's a move designed to allow customers to enjoy their meals without distractions, our waiter explains. Once our mobile phones are locked away (and yes, I agree), we're given the key with reassurances that we can access them at any time as needed.

Menu at Bistecca Sydney
Bistecca menu

Bistecca alla Fiorentina traditionally uses Chianina cattle, a Tuscan breed prized for its flavour. At Bistecca they use an aged grain-fed black angus beef sourced from the Riverine region in southern NSW.

The bistecca alla Fiorentina costs $13 per 100 grams. All you have to do is decide the size of the steak you want. Staff recommend about 300 grams per person (including the bone). We agree and settle on 2.1kg between seven people.

Focaccia at Bistecca Sydney
Complimentary focaccia

As staff light the candles on our table, we're presented with complimentary serves of focaccia.

Dipping the foacaccia into melted beef dripping candles at Bistecca Sydney
That's no ordinary candle

That's when staff explain the candles aren't made from beeswax but beef dripping. It's a surreal surprise, resulting in childlike delight as we dip the bread into the melting puddle of beef fat.

You'll probably want to add a sprinkle of salt (provided on the table) to amplify the flavour, but dip generously and you'll notice its meaty fattiness coming through.

Hacksaw and cleaver for cutting T-bone steaks at Bistecca Sydney
Hacksaw and cleaver in the open kitchen

While you're playing with your food, the kitchen will meanwhile be portioning your steak using a hacksaw and cleaver in the open kitchen. There's a comforting crackle and pop soundtrack that comes from the woodfire grill, used solely for cooking steaks as far as we could see - although they were attempting to smoke garlic bulbs too. The rest of the cooking is done behind swing doors leading to the main kitchen.

Bistecca alla fiorentina t-bone steaks readying for cooking at Bistecca Sydney
Our steaks

Our steaks are portioned, weighed and presented for approval at the table. It's a bit like ordering fresh seafood at a Chinese restaurant, without the risk of getting splashed by a gasping fish. [Keen eyes will notice the use of candles for photography lighting in the absence of our mobile phones!]

Seasoning bistecca alla fiorentina t-bone steaks with salt and pepper at Bistecca Sydney
Seasoning our bistecca alla Fiorentina with salt and pepper

The steaks are seasoned with just salt and pepper before hitting the charcoal grill.

Cooking bistecca alla fiorentina t-bone steaks over oak and charcoal at Bistecca Sydney
Our bistecca cooking over oak and charcoal

We fangirl over the charcoal grill. Is there a better TV station? You can also see the garlic bulbs on the shelf above the barbecue.

Fritto misto at Bistecca Sydney
Fritto misto $13

There might only be one main but there are plenty of sides to transform your meal into a multi-course banquet for pescetarians and vegetarians.

Fritto misto yields a snackfest of fried fish, prawn and squid.

Sardines with raisins and pine nuts at Bistecca Sydney
Sardines, raisins and pine nuts $14

We nibble on olives and sardines, the latter beautifully filleted and pickled, contrasted against sweet raisins and deep brown roasted pine nuts.

Ricotta dumplings at Bistecca Sydney
Ricotta dumplings, artichoke, goats cheese and tomato $21

Ricotta dumplings have an impressive lightness to them, baked with artichoke, tomato and goats cheese. You could happily eat this as an entree on its own.

Deboning and slicing the bistecca alla fiorentina at Bistecca Sydney
Deboning and slicing the bistecca alla Fiorentina

It doesn't take long for our steak to cook. It's served mandatorily medium-rare, to which we have no objections.

Basting the bistecca alla fiorentina with burnt butter and beef dripping at Bistecca Sydney
Basting the bistecca with burnt butter and dripping

The T-bone steak is filleted, sliced and then reassembled onto the plate before being brushed with a sauce made from burnt butter and beef dripping.

Bistecca alla fiorentina T-bone steak at Bistecca Sydney
Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Here's our 920g bistecca alla Fiorentina, ready for service.

Bistecca alla fiorentina T-bone steak cooked to medium rare at Bistecca Sydney
Medium rare perfection

The meat is cooked to medium rare perfection. The larger 1.2kg steak (pictured above) affords greater juiciness just because the cut is thicker. For that reason alone, I'd suggest you dine as a group of four of more so you can get the bigger steak.

The meat itself is soft and tender with just the right amount of chew you'd expect from beef. It's not a fat-laden puddle of squishy wagyu, but a prime steak licked by charcoal flames. I expected a smokier char to be honest, but then I've spoilt with sirloin cooked directly on top of coals.

T-bone steak bone at Bistecca Sydney
Scored the best piece

If you're a hands-on eater like myself, you'll make no hesitation to call dibs on the bone. Sure everyone else is eating daintily with knife and fork, but there's no greater carnivorous satisfaction than gnawing meat right off the bone. Those crevices hold all the juiciest bits.

The only condiment to your steak you'll get is a lemon wedge, but if you're a heathen like me, you'll start dipping your bits of steak in all the leftover oils and sauces from your sides (the confit garlic cream from the cavolo nero is particularly good).

White beans at Bistecca Sydney
White beans $12

A storm of side dishes arrives at our table all at once. The white beans are a crowd favourite, cooked to the right stage of al dente toothsomeness.

Beetroot with ricotta and burnt butter at Bistecca Sydney
Beetroot with ricotta and burnt butter $12

Earth roasted beetroot chunks are perked up with lemon rind, burnt butter and dollops of creamy ricotta.

Cavolo nero with confit garlic cream at Bistecca Sydney
Cavolo nero with confit garlic cream $11

And if there's one way to convince you that greens are delicious, it's confit garlic cream. We inhale the cavolo nero, and then squabble over the remaining sauce. Mop up the leftovers with your steak and thank me later.

Potato mash at Bistecca Sydney
Potato mash $10

And can you ever have steak without potato? The mashed potato here is a fine rendition, creamy and silky in all the right places.

Brussels sprouts at Bistecca Sydney
Brussels sprouts, pecorino and sour cream $15

Don't forget to order the Brussels sprouts either, roasted to a papery crisp golden brown and showered with finely shaved pecorino cheese.

Italian cheese board with mustard fruits and croutons at Bistecca Sydney
Cheese board with mustard fruits and croutons $40
[L-R]: Lar Tur (goat, sheep and cow brie from Piedmont)
Casa Madaio il caprotto (goat hard cheese from Campania)
Blu di caravaggio (cow and buffalo variation on gorgonzola from Lombardy)
Buffaleto (cow and buffalo taleggio-style cheese)

There are just two choices for dessert: tiramisu or your choice of four cheeses available singularly or combined. We get all four cheeses on the cheeseboard, all Italian, and incorporating a mix of goat, cow, sheep and buffalo milk.

There's a distinct sharpness from the buffalo as well as noticeable musty notes from the cheeses containing goat milk.

Tiramisu at Bistecca Sydney
Tiramisu $15

You bet we ordered the tiramisu. It's one of the better ones in Sydney - not suffocated with cream, but well balanced between soaked sponge fingers, mascarpone cream, bitter chocolate and a hint of booze.

If you're looking for a more alcoholic finish, you can order the milk or cacao negroni. The fernet spider offers the most fun, combining yes - fernet, vanila icream and cola - to create a concoction that's equal part herbal bitters and foaming fun.

Entrance to Bistecca Sydney on Dalley Street

Bistecca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

3 Dalley Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8067 0450

Opening hours
Lunch Wednesday to Friday 12pm-3pm
Dinner Monday to Saturday 6pm-10pm

Monday and Tuesday 4pm-2am
Wednesday to Friday 12pm-2am
Saturday 4pm-2am

All guests must be over the age of 18
Dinner reservations only accepted for groups of 6 or more, at 6pm or 8.30pm

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4 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/26/2018 01:50:00 am


  • At 9/26/2018 5:57 am, Blogger 17th stitch said…

    What a lovely review! It made me hungry even though I'd just eaten lunch. Now, if only I lived on the correct continent to dine here...

  • At 9/26/2018 9:26 am, Anonymous Amanda @lambsearsandhoney said…

    Looks like a pretty fab meal! We were in Sydney a week ago and, with fond memories of the real deal in Florence a few years back, The Bloke was mad keen to go there. However the whole queueing thing ticks him off no end, so we went elsewhere. It's a bit of a shame that they hide the cooking away - the charcoal grill makes for great entertainment.

  • At 10/01/2018 9:33 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    HNNNNNNG I want everything! Dibs on the bone! Brussel sprouts! Tiramisu!

  • At 10/03/2018 8:58 am, Anonymous Bianca@forfoodssake said…

    What a sexy piece of steak :) I'd struggle to be away from my phone though (how sad).


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