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30 Apr 2014 • 1 Comments
I employed that attention-grabbing headline because I suspected that if you thought yet another blogger was going to witter on about yet another craft beer & smoky meat joint, you might just kill the interweb dead and head to the kitchen for an omelette and a glass of wine.
But let’s face it – resistance is futile, even when presented with evidence that eating grilled meat is bad for you. So are diesel fumes and body-snatching aliens, but they’re not nearly as life-affirming as beer and a burger. Sometimes life just throws you a bone.
The new kid on the grill-meets-beer block is that old hand, Steve Logan, who has opened the appositely named Grill Meats Beer. It’s a literal stone’s throw from his world-famous top-ender, Logan Brown, on upper Cuba St. The long-standing establishment’s other three co-owners – including chef Kristan Mulcahy – join Logan in the new venture.
We’ve dined at Grill Meats Beer twice since it opened at Easter – once for a high tea of pork ribs and a pint (macaron, schmackaron!), and the second time last Thursday evening when we encountered what I’ll call ‘the Fairfax Crush’ on account of the restaurant having been previewed no less than three times in Fairfax publications (twice in the Dominion Post, and once in Cuisine). Talk about good publicity: the place was almost groaning under the weight of expectation!
Grill Meats Beer feels like a grill with a twist: a gourmet diner where the beef burger boasts an aged, coarse-ground patty on a brioche bun, ribs come with ‘hop and hoisin’ sauce, and sides include Korean kim chi pickle, and a salad of barley. The steaks are brisket and bavette. ‘Not Meat‘ options include miso & apple smoked salmon (sic), and a lentil and ricotta cake. There’s also ‘popcorn fish’ (crispy nibbles served with an orange aioli – totally delicious), and homemade pork & fennel sausages (ditto). The chips are crinkle cut and picture perfect in their GMB-branded paper wrap.
It’s hot, fresh and fast, ticks every texture box and delivers a wide range of flavours. To see how it’s done, sit at the bar and watch the chefs work in the open kitchen – benched with stainless steel and searingly hot cooking surfaces. The resultant smoky, steaminess is sucked up into an industrial extraction unit taking up half of the ceiling.
This super-sized centrepiece separates the bar and restaurant areas, although both share the same cushionless chairs, plain wooden tables and general air of the easily cleaned. Overall, the fit out is sharp, shiny and heavily GMB branded, with big bifold doors opening on to Cuba Street, and casually cheery staff dressed in black jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. The ladies’ ‘Simply Irresistible’ red lippy is a highlight.
There’s plenty to get your laughing gear around on the beer list. Brews by the jug including Emersons and Waikanae’s own new and fabulous North End, plus a respectable selection by the bottle. Nothing surprising about that. What is surprising, though, is that while this place might look like a slightly past-trend, band-wagon, beer and burger, dine and dash, the menu seems to be aiming for a reinvention of the genre. With such pros on board, it will likely succeed.
Georgia meets maker and baker Brigid of Milk Crate cafe.