Kingsleys Steak and Crabhouse, Woolloomooloo

by Forager on January 17, 2011

Welcome to my first post of 2011! I’ve had a month long break; left my brain bobbing somewhere in turquoise waters in the Pacific Ocean; spent plenty of time with family and friends and had ample opportunity to relax, take stock and reflect. I’ve decided 2011 is going to be the year of ‘Learning’ for me both professionally and non-professionally. I even went as far as perusing through “fun” uni courses, but thankfully, I recognised that was a clear sign of madness and I’ve vehemently stamped that initiative out before it could take root.

I have laid down important ground rules which allow me to stretch the term “learning” to “self enrichment” which transmutes nicely into “eating” when the occasion demands. Yes, not a good sign when I’m already trying to cheat on my own resolutions..

To be fair though, learning has been a constant theme for me in our kitchen. The Co-pilot taught me to cook (very possibly for his own benefit) and over the years our elaborate home cooking sessions have billowed, but consequently the restaurant meals have waned. A quick recount of recent restaurant outings show they’re now either casual, smash and grab affairs at favourite local haunts or as time seems increasingly scarce, we combine group gatherings when dining out to kill two birds with one stone. It was high time for respite from our familiar habits and head out to indulge ourselves.

The sun was just setting on the horizon when the Co-pilot and I arrived at Kingsleys Steak and Crabhouse for dinner. As the restaurant name indicates – we intended to indulge in crab and steak.

Kingsleys Steakhouse

Kingsleys - quietly buzzing atmosphere in the open air seating

Kingsleys bar

The bar - fancy a drink?

We were seated outside – a perfect vantage point for people watching and slipped into the warm, comfortable cocoon of sunset rays, quiet buzz of conversation and gentle clatter of cutlery. Inside the restaurant the clean modern furnishings and wooden interiors seem a bit more harsh in comparison, but outside on the walkway, there is a palpable sense of ease here – families and couples are contentedly tucking into their meals, no-one is trying to impress, and there is no sense of rush. To complete the scene, we peruse the menu leisurely, place our orders, then turn our attention to two beckoning glasses of wine. I’d opted for the Bethany Semillion, 2006 Barossa, and the Co-pilot opted for the ‘E’ Shiraz Cabernet, 2006 Barossa.

Wines: 'E' Shiraz Cabernet, Barossa Valley 2006; Bethany Semillon, Barossa Valley 2006

Wines: 'E' Shiraz Cabernet, Barossa Valley 2006, $9 glass/$42 bottle; Bethany Semillon, Barossa Valley 2006, $10 glass/$48 bottle

To me, the semillon had a strong aroma of honeydew melons on the nose and a subtle cheesy, buttery flavour – not the fresh spritzy, sherbety taste I normally associate with semillon. The Co-pilot’s shiraz cabernet was a mellow, quaffable wine, short on the palate with cherry aromas abound.

Our entree of salt and pepper Alaskan king crab heralded its presence by aroma even before it had reached our table and kick started an involuntary Pavlovian response in me. Experience has taught us not to sully the clean, intense crab flavour of the Alaskan king crab with unnecessary ingredients or cooking, but the sound of Alaskan king crab crusted in salt, Szechuan pepper and lime proved too tempting. We greedily attacked the crab and though some of the smaller pieces were a little dry from the frying process, the larger pieces were deliciously succulent and juicy. My favourite feature of the Alaskan king crab is its paperthin flexible shell which yields easily to even gentlest pressure and rewards with large whole chunks of mottled red crab flesh. The crab flesh reward to effort ratio is so high it’s obscene. The salty, peppery, tart tang of the crust was very tasty but for crab lover purists, we still found the natural, unadulterated Alaskan king crab was hard to beat.

Salt and pepper Alaskan crab

Salt and pepper Alaskan King Crab - crusted with salt, Szechuan pepper and lime. 200g entree size $19.90, 600g $59.90

No sooner had we finished did our second entree arrive. The simple dish of garlic butter prawns was very well executed – the prawns had a bite and crunch that was almost audible and the pungent savoury garlicky soup they were bathed in begged for some bread to mop it up. Luckily we had some reserved and made quick work of this dish. Incidentally, the tart acidity in the semillon paired very nicely with this dish.

Garlic butter prawns

Garlic butter prawns with gremolata herbs, $19.90

Whilst we were preoccupied with the food before us, the sun had continued its lazy journey westward and enveloped everything in its realm in a flattering soft peachy pink glow. The splashes of brilliant morphing colour on the horizon and fiery red reflection in the water was captivating and had everyone seemingly more relaxed and content. Seeing my own relaxation echoed in the body language of those around me, I wondered how many romances start at this bewitching hour?

Sunset glow

The soft peach glow of sunset flatters all

Sunset over the wharf

Spectacular sunset over the wharf

We move onto our mains and our side dishes appear first. A kipfler potato, spinach and chorizo side ticked the mandatory starch requirements but it was the simple sounding zucchini, pea, mint and Persian fetta salad that totally won me over – the refreshing flavours worked so well together with the sweet zucchini and nutty freshly shelled raw peas, but it was how well the zucchini  that really impressed me.  The zucchini seemed to have only been flash blanched so it retained a delicious, resoundingly satisfying crunch served so simply coated in a light smearing of salty Persian fetta. At the risk of sounding like a simpleton, I had a revelation – I must have been eating wilted, overcooked zucchini all my life!

Kipfler spinach chorizo

Kipflers, spinach and chorizo side, $9.9

Zucchini pea mint fetta

Zucchini, peas, mint and Persian fetta salad, $9.9

But it’s the steak that Kingsleys is famous for and it’s the main act we’ve been waiting for. We’d ordered rib on the bone and an eye fillet for the Co-pilot and myself respectively as per the restaurant’s recommendation and when they arrived, I must admit, all previous romantic notions fizzled as I eyed the Co-pilot’s steak enviously. I tend to conveniently ignore the fact that the Co-pilot is about oh, twice the size of me when taking portion size into account but when you know the quality of steak is assured, quantity is a factor worth contesting and there was no doubt that the Co-pilot’s behemoth rib on the bone dwarfed my demure little eye fillet. The Co-pilot affirmed this by doing his best to make caveman-appropriate, testosterone-fuelled grunting noises of male appreciation at his steak.

Rib on bone

Rib on the bone, 650g 120 day grain-fed, Riverine Premium beef, marble score 2+, $51.90

Eye fillet

Eye fillet, 200g pasture-fed, Southern Tablelands, $31.90

But I needn’t have worried, as expected my eye fillet was so tasty and tender it had me involuntarily eliciting murmurs of appreciation myself. And it was perfectly cooked to the medium-rare level as I’d requested – still pink and rare in the middle. Cooking steaksto the degree a diner requests sounds like a straight-forward enough request and one that should be the expected norm for steak serving restaurants, but I’m more frequently than not disappointingly familiar with overcooked steak and find myself impressed when it does occur as requested. It’s not right!

Whilst the Co-pilot’s rib on the bone was not as tender, it was arguably more robust in flavour and the peppery bite in the Co-pilot’s Peppertree Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was an appropriate match for the steaks, enhancing the kick in the peppercorn sauce he ordered on his steak. Our steaks also differed in the eye fillet being pasture and the rib on the bone being grain-fed, but the differences in cuts and other variables made it too difficult to make any conclusive observations on differences in flavour due to feeding sources.

Feeling well-sated, we were content to end the meal on that filling note, but some persuasive salesmanship resulted in us unexpectedly staying on for another course – and we couldn’t bypass the temptation of cheese!

Kingsleys cheese platter

Kingsleys cheese platter: three cheeses with fig and walnut roulade, $29.90

Tallegio, Trinity Cellars Chevre, Fourme d'Ambert

Three cheeses (left to right): Tallegio, Trinity Cellars Chevre and Fourme d'Ambert

Finding it difficult to decide between the different cheeses on offer, we opted for the 3 cheese plate with generous wedges of Tallegio, Trinity Cellars Chevre and Fourme d’Ambert. The tallegio, an Italian cow’s milk washed rind, was as ripe and soft as expected; the Chevre an intriguing semi-hard goat’s cheese from Holland was delicious and sharp and curiously tasted like it was mostly Parmesan with a dollop of that distinctive Chevre flavour thrown in for good measure; and the Fourme d’Ambert, a French cow’s milk blue rounded out the selection of three with its pungent, salty, flavours that seemed designed to be consumed with the accompanying sweet refreshing pear slices.

Though we thought we were sated before, the cheese platter pushed us to a new plane of satisfaction. Reflecting on the meal, we found everything to be delicious and satisfying and could find no fault to complain of. The service was casual and friendly and though the menu isn’t one that boasts of cutting edge innovation, each dish was so well executed. There’s no doubt that I’ll continue to lust after fancy degustations, noveau techniques, textures and ingredients – they certainly have their place. But with age, I’ve found a new appreciation for great food that’s expertly cooked. I find myself in the unlikely position of one of those passengers that applauds when an otherwise uneventful flight successful lands. It’s the pilot’s job to land the damn plane without event and whilst it should be appreciated it doesn’t need to be applauded. I’ve silently derided those passengers in the past, but now find myself wanting to applaud when I’m served food that’s cooked well. Hmm.

Cooking well has thus far been underrated in my books but I certainly plan to rectify that. Starting with learning how to cook a steak, properly. Stay tuned for the next post!

The night skyline view outside Kingsleys

The Gourmet Forager dined as a guest of Kingsleys.

.

Address:

10/6 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo, Sydney.

Open daily for lunch noon – 5pm; dinner 6pm – 10pm.

Tel: 1300 546 475 or reserve online.

www.kingsleys.com.au

Kingsleys Steak & Crabhouse on Urbanspoon


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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dave B January 17, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Hey TS, glad you guys enjoyed it, but I’ve been there twice and have only had very poor experiences. Like you say, the steak is the main attraction, and both times our steaks were very poor (as in, I’ve had better at a pub). And the service was rubbish too. Boo! Won’t be a third time for me…

2 Forager January 18, 2011 at 8:37 am

Hey Dave – That’s a shame and I’d certainly feel the same if I had that experience. We definitely couldn’t complain about our meals, everything was simple, but just done well. Although it’s probably unrealistic to expect we’d be treated strictly neutrally as we were guests, I’d hate to think it was an experience totally out of the norm. Might have to revisit again..

3 the ninja January 18, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Great review, great destination. Their Alaskan king crab works best simply steamed then chilled with some mayo on the side – can’t beat it for svelte minimalism. Desserts are also pretty nifty but those cheeses look a meal of their own…

Curious to when you went, Dave – I believe they had a major revamp of their management and restaurant style quite recently.
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4 thang@noodlies January 18, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Wow, what a great way to dine.. at dusk to see Sydney in it’s changing glory.

The steak looks fabulous!

5 Simon @ the heart of food January 18, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Welcome back from the hiatus!

The last hour of sunset light is wonderful. If there ever was a time for romance to spark, that isn’t a bad time for it.

Love how it’s so easy to get to all the crabby goodness with the Alaskan King Crab. Far less effort than other crabs.

6 Crickster January 19, 2011 at 8:09 am

So is this one of the perks of being an award-winning food blogger? Nice pay-off!

7 nic@diningwithastud January 19, 2011 at 9:02 am

Love how you make us feel like we’re there :) I can almost taste your steak! The Tallegio looks amazing! Love that you decided on the cheese
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8 OohLookBel January 19, 2011 at 10:24 am

Can’t wait to see how you treat a steak; I agree that simple, well-cooked food is the go these days. Love the sunset glow at Kingsley’s, too (and the cheese plate!).
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9 tasteofbeirut January 19, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Sounds like a great outing! Love the steak, the platter of cheeses and that salad!

10 Arwen from Hoglet K January 19, 2011 at 6:28 pm

It’s nice to hear that the gorgeous view was complemented by such a good dinner. The words persian fetta had already piqued my interest in that salad, but a zucchini revelation puts the icing on the cake.

11 Christine@Christine's Recipes January 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Wish that I could try their Alaskan king crab. May be next time when I visit Sydney. Hmmm…your remark of sampling their Zucchini salad also got me thinking of whether I always overcook the Zucchini too. Take a note.

12 L-bean January 19, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Spamtaro and I both love a simply seasoned and perfectly cooked steak. Like you, over the years our home cooking has increased and our ventures to ‘special’ dinning has declined. That being said, we’ve been working on our home cooked steaks for years now and there is something extremely satisfying about cutting into a steak that is just perfectly done and then realising that you did it yourself. Too bad we aren’t the pros at Kingleys and don’t get it right every time but it does make those times you get it right extra special.
Have you tried Prime at the GPO building? That’s my pick for ridiculously tasty wagu.
A beautifully cooked steak is an amazing thing. Simple food done well. I love the sentiment and I very much look forward to more posts on the subject.

13 penny aka jeroxie January 19, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Love the view and love the casual environment as well. Definitely love to learn how to cook the perfect steak. :)
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14 Melissa January 20, 2011 at 2:28 pm

the alaskan king crab and garlic butter prawn looks delicious! looking forward to read more..
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15 Rebecca @ InsideCuisine January 25, 2011 at 3:20 am

Happy New Year! that looks nice … I just love waterviews and they are even more delightful in summer @frombecca x
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16 Bonnibella January 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I think my entire relationship with Oz revolves around the glowing hour from dawn to dusk. I, too would be eyeing the bone in steak. Love your resolution and especially love how you need to restraint yourself. Happy Lunar New Year!
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17 Forager February 1, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Hey Ninja – Couldn’t agree more, less is more with Alaskan crab. Let’s not mess with perfection.

Hey Thang – Absolutely, scenes like these make me fall in love with Sydney again and again

Hey Simon – Thanks! Good to be back! Absolutely – a bit of wine, soft lighting just need a bit of Al Green and we have romance in the making..

Hey Crickster – I’ll take you next time :)

Hey Nic – It’s been a while since I wrote this post and looking back at the pics – I can almost taste it too! I’m a bit of a cheese fiend so cheese will often win over dessert

Hey OohLookBel – Definitely, you wouldn’t accept less than perfect products elsewhere, why do we just bear it when we pay for poorly cooked food?

Hey TasteofBeirut – It certainly was an enjoyable evening and good food just made it better. View didn’t hurt either really.

Hey Arwen – It was divine. So good!

Hey Christine – I was wondering if they were actually raw – will have to buy some zucchinis and test this out for myself now.

Hey L-bean – Haven’t tried Prime yet, but will do. And we’ll get together and create perfect steaks!

Hey Penny – Hopefully the next post is to your liking then!

Hey Mel – oh it was! I don’t think I could get bored of Alaskan crab. So very addictive…

Hey Becca – Summer in Sydney when the weather shines is something else isn’t it? I think water views go 50% of the way in getting me relaxed!

Hey Bonnibella – Not a bad time to associate Oz with – rather spectacular really! And happy new year to you too!

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