I'm an experienced corporate communicator and editor with an eye for interesting events and an attachment to my trusty Oxford dictionary.
Published April 16th 2013
A carnivore's delight
When it comes to dining out, my husband, Comedy Relief, most resembles a T-Rex. No, he doesn't have ridiculously short arms and his table manners are actually pretty good, but boy, does that man love his meat, especially steak. It's no surprise then that over the years Cha Cha Char Wine Bar and Grill has hosted a number of our celebrations. Since it had been a couple of years since our last visit it seemed an obvious choice for Comedy Relief's recent birthday outing.
[ADVERT]Established in 1997, Cha Cha Char Wine Bar and Grill is something of a Brisbane restaurant legend. It has been the recipient of numerous awards including The Restaurant & Catering Awards' National Best Steak Restaurant for five years in a row.
Other awards include Best Informal Dining, so it's no surprise that the atmosphere is relaxed, vibrant and a little on the noisy side, but that's OK with me. Let's face it, patrons come here for the steak, not for a quiet tête-à-tête or romantic rendezvous. It's a large space where you can enjoy views of the Brisbane River if you score a table by the window. It also has a great bar area where you can go for a pre or post dinner drink, but we took a rain check on this occasion.
It was an interesting crowd on the night we dined. A curious mix of what looked like thick-necked ex-Rugby players (feed the man meat, I suppose) and their young petite partners, party groups, couples,and surprisingly (given that this is not a budget dining experience), a sprinkling of families.
Unfortunately for us we were situated between two tables with very noisy diners. As I said previously I don't mind noisy restaurants, it can add to the atmosphere, but these women really could have taught hyenas how to laugh, and they raised the sound levels considerably. But this was hardly the fault of the restaurant, just bad luck and bad timing on our part. If only I'd booked earlier we would have had one of those window tables...
After a quick perusal of the menu, which does offer items other than steak, we were ready to order. Our first choice was the 'while you wait' option - rolls with butter, beef jus dipping sauce, & pistachio dukkah. The rolls were hot and crusty, the dukkah delicious and the jus flavoursome and hearty, and served in a delightful china cow pourer, that, if I were unscrupulous, would have just fitted into my handbag.
For mains Comedy Relief opted for the serious carnivore choice of Wagyu eye fillet with Asian slaw and nam jim dressing, while I went for the chimichurri fillet with crispy school prawns, oakleaf & apple salad.
On the menu and in a poster on the wall Cha Cha Char has a pictorial explanation of exactly what they mean by rare, medium-rare, medium and well done, which I applaud, since there is so much variation between establishments.
When my steak arrived it matched exactly the picture of a medium-rare steak. The only trouble with that was that I had ordered my steak medium. Not one to make a fuss in restaurants I didn't send it back to the kitchen. I did however thoroughly enjoy its tender succulence and full-bodied meatiness - a true carnivore's delight. It was so good that I may even have to change my future ordering preference based on this experience. Comedy Relief's Wagyu was perfectly cooked, tender and just the way he likes it.
We had also ordered a side of onion rings, and these were onion rings on steroids - huge, light, crispy, oniony parcels that were the best I've ever tasted. My choice of sauce was wood roasted mushroom sauce. I expected to see, well, mushrooms, but they weren't recognisable. They'd been whizzed into the sauce, which was quite tasty, but, call me old-fashioned, if I order mushrooms, I want to be able to see them.
For dessert we ordered the crème brulee with hazelnut financier & cinnamon ice cream to share. I had a mental image of a Wall Street banking type covered in hazelnuts, but thankfully a financier in this case was cake, though not the best cake I've ever had. My slight cake disappointment was more than made up for by the spicy cinnamon ice cream treat and the smooth-as-silk brulee.
After a thoroughly satisfying meal we strolled leisurely back to our car to find a nasty traffic infringement notice that unfortunately added $100 to the cost of our night out. Once again the spectre of the T-Rex raised its rampaging, drooling head for our very own version of Jurassic Park. If only he'd gone to the parking station...