Sitting in a cosy restaurant on a chilly autumn evening as the hearty aroma of premium Wagyu meeting the flames of the hot grill fills the air, it’s easy to see why the waterside venue is heaven on Earth for the most devoted carnivores.
A welcome cloud of smoke lingers above the glowing charcoal in the open kitchen, luring our curious senses, making it incredibly difficult to keep our eyes on the innovative menu for which BLACK Bar & Grill is renowned.
Dedicated to offering only the most superior cuts of beef, the restaurant is among the finest steakhouses on Australia’s culinary map, blending its contemporary charm with seasonal produce.
Combining its expertise with a glittery money-can’t-buy view of the harbour, the award-winning restaurant is one of The Star Sydney’s signature venues. Celebrating the divine worlds of art and indulgence, BLACK – along with Sokyo, Flying Fish, Cucina Porto and CHUUKA – is taking part in Indulgence: A Festival for all the Senses.
"Expect tables laden with sumptuous dishes, abundant blooms and evocative soundscapes." – George Hughes
Entwining the decadent dishes with artistic collaboration, the steak experts paired with florist Lisa Cooper, who created a breathtaking dining experience reminiscent of a Renaissance still life. Reflecting the opulent wood-fired menu curated by Executive Chef Dany Karam, the artistic florist weaves the themes of indulgence through the magnolia blooms.
"Indulgence is food, of course – great wine, delicious desserts, cocktails and rich flavours," explains George Hughes, The Star’s CMO. "But it is also about all the things that surround and elevate a great dining experience.
"We wanted to expand the meaning of indulgence to think about all five senses and create a luxurious sense of occasion with every experience – something we’ve missed over the last year.
"Expect tables laden with sumptuous dishes, abundant blooms and evocative soundscapes."
And abundantly sumptuous it is. While beef is the main attraction, BLACK’s seafood selection is equally exceptional.
Fresh sesame-crusted yellowfin tuna with Persian feta and subtle hints of wasabi finished with lime dressing and a contrasting crunch of crispy nori made for a delightful start to our degustation. As did the plump scallops with zucchini flowers, Dutch carrot salad and buttermilk dressing; plus the beef carpaccio with anchovy mayonnaise, smoked croutons, crispy garlic, bitter leaves and horseradish ice cream.
One of the most beautiful meals to grace our table was the mouth-watering spanner crab, poached in olive oil and served in a vibrant coral crab shell sitting on a bed of seaweed and whimsical seashells. To the side was a dish of finger lime crème fraiche sprinkled with golden pearls of salmon roe and a bed of warm pikelet-sized pita bread pillows, slightly charred from the grill. Adding a touch of DIY to the seafood entrée, when we topped our pitas, it created a flavoursome eruption of fresh crab laced with subtle notes of citrus, the sweetness of crème fraiche and bold bursts of delicate roe.
Effortlessly contrasting the cooler seafood dishes was the grilled Moreton Bay bug tail. While it’s a familiar staple at many high-end restaurants, this bug was served on a pool of hearty mashed peas with mint, topped with generous amounts of smoked pork hock and crustacean emulsion. Giving the summer icon a winter twist (think ultra-sophisticated pea and ham soup) was truly delightful.
The brains behind the award-winning restaurant’s menu is Karam, whose rich experience from his home in Lebanon allowed him to hone his skills in France at Michelin-starred restaurant Particulier before coming to Australia. Continuing to build his expertise at BLACK for the past seven years, his global influences combined with a passion for sourcing the finest local produce truly shines.
Part of the Indulgence Festival is an exclusive, specially curated tasting plate of heroes – aged lamb loin, Kurobuta pork chop and Wagyu beef tenderloin – all cooked simply with fire and natural fuels, creating a smoky character.
If your dining partner likes their beef sitting at the opposite end of the Chicago to very-well-done scale, proving too tricky to share one cut, the copious array of individual cuts is more suitable.
With premium hand-selected options including the David Blackmore Fullblood Wagyu MBS9+, grass-fed Angus and Rangers Valley grain-fed, choosing the stars of the evening is one of the toughest decisions.
My guest opted for the tender 270-day grain fed Angus Scotch with a MBS5+ while I went for David Blackmore’s 600-day ration-fed Wagyu striploin with a MBS9+. All of the beef is slightly smoked over cherry wood ash before it’s grilled over high-heat Australian iron bark to accentuate its finer flavours.
BLACK Bar & Grill is home to one of Sydney’s largest international wine cellar with more than 1,000 bins.
Cooked to absolute perfection, every bite of the sumptuous Wagyu was rich and tender, with the knife gliding through the smooth, intricate marbling of the smoky beef, as if it were sliding through soft butter. Despite being served a selection of condiments, the essence of the buttery Wagyu shines effortlessly without ever needing any enhancements.
To cut perfectly through the marble textures awaits a drop of Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel blend. Hand-picked by Head Sommelier Addy Lam, the wine list at BLACK is exceptional – think winery maps, vineyard history and extravagant inclusions. It is home to one of Sydney’s largest international wine cellar with more than 1,000 bins. One of the most expensive bottles is around US$13,000 (A$17,000) – which we’re told sells more often than we’d think.
And it’s not a true gastronomic adventure without a few sides. Toasty from the charcoal oven were the king prawns dripping in seaweed butter and lemon, allowing the true flavours of the meaty crustacean to stand out. It’s simply unforgettable, as was the mushroom ragout. Topped with a crisp, golden lid of pastry, cracking into the flaky, buttery dish was like opening an edible treasure trove of garlic-infused fungi – all the good stuff in life. Not only was it a treat for the tastebuds, it’s scientific. Our cultivated waiter explained that the crust keeps all the moisture and nutrients in, leaving the mushrooms juicy and irresistible. Of course, we opted for a side of chips too – because what’s a steak without chips?
The Star Sydney’s Indulgence: A Festival for all the Senses will run until the end of May 2021.