A cut above: the grass-fed wagyu beef at Charcoal Grill on the Hill
For 23 years the Derbogosian family has run this Kew steak institution sitting proudly in its two-storey Victorian building atop the High Street Hill.
Peter and his son Dejan know their steak, and their wine. They have created an old-style gentleman’s-club atmosphere that’s accompanied by attentive service, an outstanding wine list and top-notch cuts of meat.
Whether your cut is fillet, porterhouse or rump, it will arrive cooked to perfection, barely needing the hefty steak knife proffered.
It’s a hands-on affair – daughter Linda is a waitress and her husband Fabian Caminiti is the chef – and is loved by locals, sought out by tourists and does special occasions with panache.
Dejan is the wine man. His passion for global rarities is renown and his knowledge a delight to regulars.
Mark Protheroe (ex-Vue de Monde) has worked with the treasured wine collection for the past three-and-a-half years and is adept at handling any query or unusual request. It’s all served in Riedel glassware, of course.
Alas though, says Dejan, the availability of good, marbled grass-fed beef has declined in the past
10 drought-affected years, and steak prices have risen again in the past six months.
AHR Schmidt, of Geelong, is the current supplier and clearly measures up to Derbogosian standards, supplying the grass-fed wagyu used in most cuts in varying grades, up to the grade 8-9 wagyu at $78 for 200 grams or $109 for 300 grams.
For those who don’t worship the cow, there’s a token chicken or pork fillet on offer, which are also sure to be expertly grilled.
The flaming grill operates constantly, perhaps turning out simple entrees such as duck sausage with broccolini, a plate of char-grilled vegetables or lightly spiced chevapchichi sausages.
But they’re just the support acts to the main star, the house-aged steak, which arrives well rested in a standard 300-gram slab. Add another 200 grams for $16 a pop if you’re a ravenous carnivore.
House records have been made and broken on serving size, but it’s not really about quantity.
Accompaniments are basic, and haven’t changed for years, either – cos lettuce and shredded cabbage dressed in light vinaigrette, and a small basket of fries.
Desserts are modern classics such as sticky date pudding and strawberry pancakes, and the cheese platter offers top Australian, Italian and French choices.
Whatever your choice, accompany it with at least one of the 80 or so offerings of incredible dessert wines.
Charcoal Grill on the Hill, 289 High Street, Kew
Phone \ 9853 7535
Chef \ Fabian Caminiti
Prices \ Entrees $11-$15; mains $32-$109; desserts $11
Open \ Monday-Saturday 6-11pm; Friday noon-3pm
First timers to this palace of beef worship will be either confronted, or delighted, by the glass meat locker containing slabs of ageing meat at the front counter of this retro Kew eatery.
Those in whom it builds anticipation, and that’s most, will sink back into the comfort of the crimson walls, colonial timber chairs and crisp, white cloths with pleasure. Quality crockery and glassware are signs of things to come.
The decor has changed little in many years, but that’s just the way the owners and regulars like it – classic and elegant.
This busy family restaurant has earned its reputation for great steak and stunning wines. The 20-page wine list is full of Australian and international classics and rarities from around the globe.
This beefy, blokey eatery delivers on song daily. Excellent service, premium quality steak cooked to perfection on the flaming charcoal grill and extensive wine offerings with accessible descriptions combine to delight regulars and newcomers alike.
Simple accompaniments support the beef worship but don’t inspire. Patrons crowd in regardless. Maybe it’s old-fashioned but the staff and surroundings are smart, and the hard-working chef could reflect that by wearing an outfit that befits his prowess on the grill.