Dinner at a butcher shop? Sure why not! At The Cannery's brand new Argyle Smokehouse & Butchery, you can have an after hours dining experience. Just buy a dry aged beef joint as your "deposit" and invite up to 10-13 friends along for your own private dining experience.
There's just one table at Argyle Smokehouse & Butchery. During the day it is either lifted high above but at night it is the setting for the group dinner. The dinner menu spans seafood and beef and all of the beef and lamb served are from the family farm near Yass in Harden. Dinner is $190 per person with a minimum spend of $1500 and you can also BYO wine to the night too.
Initially chef Jonathan Glover brought the idea to the Argyle group. They were his meat suppliers in Hong Kong, Singapore, China and Bali where he opened "The Butcher's Club".
He proposed the idea for a butcher cum restaurant and with fellow chef and business partner Ryan Crawford and the Graham family the butchery offers meals during the day like brisket sandwiches and smoked meat platters and these elaborate, share style private dining meals at night.
Dinner starts with nibblies, all house made. The duck and chicken pâtés are superb, the duck & shiraz pâté slightly edging out the chicken. The pork rillettes are heaven on a plate while the chicken terrine has a good amount of spice and a generous amount of green pistachios studded throughout it. The smoked beef brisket burnt ends are saucy and tasty and great served with the pickles. The brisket is smoked using beech wood as it is a lighter style of wood smoking.
Then we go through to the kitchen for a little tour where they show us the ovens, freezers and where they hold their sausage classes.
They open up ‘Big Birtha’, their smoker who is busy smoking beef. And when we adjourn to sit down at the table they have our seafood feast ready for us.
It's a beautifully striking presentation with a clear ice box filled with seafood from Appellation Sydney rock oysters served natural with a white wine vinegar & black pepper mignonette dressing, Mount Cook Alpine salmon tartare with black truffle and lemon, marinated Cloudy Bay diamond clams with olive oil and herbs and seared Spencer Gulf Hiramasa kingfish with pickled cucumber salsa.
My favourite is the kingfish which is perfectly dressed with the pickled cucumber salsa. There are also extra sauces on hand including a Tabasco and wasabi spiced cocktail sauce and a mango, capsicum and coriander salsa.
The next dish to be served is a hot seafood dish and we are pleasantly surprised by the amount of seafood at what could be a very meat heavy dinner. They're seared Abrolhos Island scallops on the Coral Coast of Western Australia on a bed of pea and ham puree with a generous sprinkling of house smoked crispy bacon.
Next we are served our individual plates of mussels. I am mindful not to eat too much because I know that we have steak coming out next but it's hard to resist these Kinkawooka mussels cooked in Chablis, butter, olive oil, purple garlic and herbs especially when you dip in the bread.
Oh did I mention the bread is dipped in beef fat and sprinkled with dry aged beef salt (more on the salt later)?
Jonathan tells a bit about the beef that we are about to eat and explains the dry ageing process which starts and finishes in the fridges adjacent to our table. The air is kept at 1-2°C and the air is kept rapidly circulating at a 75% humidity. This allows the beef to easily form a crust. Dry ageing beef is an expensive process, not only do you lose weight by removing the moisture (but concentrating the flavour), you also slice off the blackened parts of the beef and typically lose around 30% of yield. And when you go to cook dry aged beef the fat all renders off and dissolves adding juice and flavour. Dry ageing can only really be done with primal cuts with a good layer of fat on them.
There are two types of beef served tonight and they're both intensely flavoured and delicious. The first is a 30-45 day custom dry aged Argyle Black Angus ribeye of beef. The second is the extra thick cut prime steak with signature dry rub spice grilled on lava rocks.
Dry aged beef salt
They also season the steaks with one of the by products of the dry ageing process-the blackened parts of the beef that are cut off are pounded with salt to create a dry aged beef salt that intensifies the flavour of the steaks.
To accompany these steaks are a bearnaise sauce, green peppercorn and brandy jus, Argentinean chimichurri, apple and tarragon ketchup, Butcher's Club lager and horseradish mustard.
There are also thrice fried hand cut chips cooked in duck fat and an organic green salad with balsamic vinaigrette.
There are whispers of a cheesecake for dessert and it's a New York cheesecake with Illawarra plums foraged in Burrawang that are cooked sous vide for 6 hours at 64c with sugar and lemon. They remind me of blueberries in flavour and are fantastic against the creamy cheesecake.
I also can't resist helping myself to the cheese platter on offer, particularly the Chällerhocker Swiss cheese and Holy Goat goat's cheese with quince paste and muscatels. And even though it's a weeknight, nobody is quite prepared to leave.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like private or experiential dining experiences like this? Do you like dry aged steaks? And do you like a mix of seafood and meat or would you prefer an all meat dinner?
NQN and Mr NQN were guests of Argyle Smokehouse but all opinions remain her own.
Argyle Smokehouse & Butchery
Unit 10, GF, The Cannery, 81 Mentmore Avenue, Rosebery Sydney
Phone: 02 80184114