The Merivale Winter Feasts menus offer a fair bit of variety, if you’re in the mood for Sushi, Teppanyaki or Tapas? You’re covered for it all! But when my co-workers asked for a recommendation on where to go for lunch my only response was, ‘Meat!’ and off to Mad Cow we headed. The Mad Cow restaurant sits on the base floor of the Merivale’s Ivy complex and bills itself as a ‘Fabulously flamboyant New York-style grill’, and yes they serve up a lot of meat.
The decor is very charmingly full of canary yellow and whites almost making me feel as though I’ve stepped back into the 50’s. Our booking is for a relatively large group of 8 people and the Mad Cow staff ask if we’re alright with sitting outside on the terrace. As I’ve left the booking til fairly late in the week I’m just relieved they can fit us in. On the day Sydney seems determined to beat Winter, and the sun is shining down on us outside.
Having peeked at the Winter Feasts menu before arriving I’m fairly certain of what I’m going to order, however I can’t resist looking in the menu. I have to laugh when I open it up as the mains are whimsically separated into ‘Mains (The Cow)’ and ‘(Not the Cow)’. Despite all the offering we all decide to order from the Winter Feasts menu and seeing as the clock has just ticked past 12, a few cocktails to begin our Friday arvo.
It really is just like Lorraine says… Food Bloggers really have to take photos of everything, even the bread.
I decide to start the day off simply with a Lemon Tree, a cocktail consisting of a mix of Lemoncello, Martini Bianco, Grapefruit chunks and juice as well as a single basil leaf. I prefer my cocktails with a sour/sweet twist and this drink definitely does not disappoint, reminding me somewhat of an alcoholic Pink Lemonade.
My co-workers opt for a traditional Mojito and I love the generous crushing of lemon and basil and the result is lovely and tart. My manager who has been burnt many a time with a terrible mojito declares it one of the best he’s had. (Oops, gobsmack’d informs me this is actually a Mojito! My cocktail-fu is obviously not working late at night.)
With 8 people at the table we’ve managed to order the entire Winter Feasts menu with the exception of one of the mains, a Risotto.
The soup comes out in a surprisingly generous serving, liberal with all of its ingredients, unfortunately this is one of the few dishes I didn’t get the chance to sample but as the soup end of the table quickly fall silent, I can only assume they were enjoying the soup.
When the oysters come out I can’t help but feel a pang of regret for having passed them over. I quickly negotiate a swap with co-worker A and down my sample quickly. YUM. The oysters are amazingly fresh and I love the pops of Trout Roe, I know some people despise these eggs but I just love the novelty of the popping.
A few years ago on my travels my best cheesy experience would hands down be a super simple pizza made with Prosciutto and fresh Buffalo Mozzarella eaten in Naples. Ever since then whenever I see Buffalo Mozzarella on the menu I have to order it, I cannot resist Buffalo Mozzarella! The dish is nice and light and while I enjoy the cheesy goodness, I have to agree the best entree of the lot is hands down the Oysters.
The Beef Cheeks are so tender when I attack them with my fork that they practically fall apart! I finally resort to using my dessert spoon to properly gather all these ingredients together for one perfect bite. Unusually the Celeriac is whole, but the texture works well with the meat and mushrooms. Each of the Winter Feasts comes with a glass of red, white or a beer, I decide on the red and decidedly enjoy each sip.
We get a little bit of a shock when we cut open the Trout as the meat is much rarer than expected, however any concerns we have melt away at the first taste. The crispy skin and rare meat go amazingly well together and the tomato salsa is a nice little touch on the side.
While we were ordering, the waiter advised us to order a few sides if we were thinking of ordering the Flank Steak, somehow this slipped our minds when we did actually get around to ordering! The steak comes out last and looks a little lonesome on the plate accompanied only by a slice of lemon and BBQ sauce.
The last time I went to lunch with co-worker R I nearly took his head off when he ordered his steak well done, this time around he looks at me almost fearfully as he orders medium well. Perhaps he would have been better off ordering well done as I am a little worried at how pink it is when he cuts it open, he quickly assures me that he’s pretty much loving it.
At this point we experience a little lull in our service as from our position on the terrace it becomes a little difficult to catch the eye of the waiters as they rush from side to side of the restaurant. When we do manage to get their attention they quickly whisk away our plates and equally quickly bring out… the desserts!
Is it me, or does Quince seem to be the fruit de jour? Before this year I’d rarely heard of it and this year it seems like I can’t walk past a menu without seeing it offered. The Quince has an amazing colour and the Cinnamon Creme reminds me very much of the one we had at Ash St Cellar, and is definitely the winner of this dish.
The raspberry sorbet and blueberry compote save this dessert as the Crisp Meringue takes its name a little too seriously and I find myself almost hacking at the plate to pull apart the Meringue, aside from the texture once I get the dish apart I fall in love with all the berry berry tastes.
Co-worker A goes for the savory dessert and selects the cheese plate offering which comes out with some intriguingly shaped Walnut Bread, I can’t help but snag a slice of her apple.
Mad Cow provided a great atmosphere to eat in and at $45 for a 3 course meal including a glass of wine is an absolute steal. The wait staff were cheerful on the day, the wine master on the day especially so as he chatted to my Manager on different choices of dessert wine. My only gripe about Mad Cow would probably be the booking system, in this day and age I should not have to fax a manual confirmation of my credit card details! Aside from this I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Mad Cow.
The Merivale Winter Feasts will be running over the next three months (until August 2009). Merivale will be offering lunches and dinners starting from $35, the menu offerings vary per restaurant and go from 1 to 3 courses including a glass of wine or a James Squire. Along with the menus, cocktail, sushi and master classes are also being held.
330 George St,
Sydney, NSW, 2000
Ph: (02) 9240 3000
Open Monday to Friday, Lunch and Dinner, Saturdays Dinner only.