When Weekender last reviewed the dining facilities at The Burwood Inn, we staked our claim and declared that The Burwood served the best steaks in Newcastle. That was in 2015, and the world has changed a lot since then.
Donald Trump didn’t have access to the nuclear codes and the foreshore had 170 more trees than it does now. But, what does this have to do with the price of steak? Not a lot. What most intrigued us was whether ‘The Inn’ could still lay claim to the title of ‘best steak in Newcastle’. Let’s find out …
Saturday night is as good a night as any to put away a steak. In fact, you might say it’s the best night. After a few short detours around the rabbit warren that is Merewether (trying to find a park), my dining associate and I wandered into the warm buzz and hum of The Burwood Inn.
Décor wise, not much has changed, apart from, what I believe to be, the addition of an empty Young Henry’s growler on a shelf at the side of the restaurant. It’s dimly lit and furnished with wooden tables and chairs and a couple of long and comfy bench seats at either end of the dining space. Despite the winter chill, the courtyard outside looks as cosy as it is inside, courtesy of a couple of fire-pits. We sit inside and are given menus with a welcoming smile.
Obviously, there’s an assortment of steaks, and I’ll get to them, but did you know The Burwood makes pizzas? It’s true; margherita, wild mushroom, jerk chicken and chilli prawns, and there were plenty being slung about the place this night. The starters sound good too; warm olives, salt and pepper squid, chicken liver paté, dumplings, and mac and cheese croquettes. ‘Not steak’ items include confit pork belly served with a black eyed pea cassoulet, apple chutney, and roast eschallots (GF), red lentil dahl with yoghurt raita, pappadums and basmati rice. My dining associate and I order the chicken liver to start, followed by 400 grams of Northern NSW rib-eye on the bone, and USA-style pork ribs, both served with chips and greens.
For drinks, make your way to the old brick bar. In the pub, on the other side, folks are throwing back craft beer schooners and a few old favourites, mixers and wine. The wine list is sound enough and there a few excellent drops. After a schooner of Old and a well-mixed G&T, we opened a 2015 Reserve Shiraz by Usher Tinkler Wines; a bloody good wine from a bloody wet year. The bright acids and silky tannins made best mates with my ‘Fairlight’ rib-eye.
The chicken liver paté is accompanied by cornichons, a couple of leaves of bitter radicchio, sweet onion jam and crispy wafers of sourdough croutes. It’s super smooth, rich and creamy in all the right places, while the supports revive and refresh. The pork ribs land as a full-rack-mess of sticky brown glazed goodness, sprinkled with chopped parsley. The meat oozes off the bone, onto the fork and into our mouths. It’s an indulgent experience only sticky ribs can provide.
Now, regarding the 400 gram ‘Fairlight’ rib-eye, on the bone, served on a green bed of crispy, well-seasoned beans, a side of thick and crunchy chips, and a pot of Port jus for drizzling. The blackened char marks were there, the meat was pink and juicy in the middle, as requested, and the flavours melded in delicious harmony with the savoury fruit spectrum of the Hunter red. But, despite hitting all the marks, this steak didn't make me feel the way I did the first time. Maybe my expectations were too high?
It'll never be as good as that very first time. I think old Rod got it right when he sang, ‘the first cut is the deepest’.
- What: The Restaurant at The Burwood
- Where: 77 Berner St, Merewether (burwood.com.au)
- Owners: Julianne and Ty Burford
- Drinks: Good tap and bottled beers, decent wine list, soft drinks
- Hours: Lunch and dinner 7 days
- Vegetarian: Yes
- Bottom Line: $170 for two, incl. drinks
- Wheelchair Access: Yes
- Do Try: Chicken liver paté, pork ribs