#JOM! EAT: What's your cut?

© Provided by New Straits Times

Cork and Cleaver, a just-opened butchery cum mostly-meat restaurant in the recently made-over ‘lifestyle’ precinct of The Stories, is making its name among non-meat eaters too. Curious David Bowden gives it a try.

I COULDN’T believe my ears when Master Butcher Daniel Greig tells me that his butchery cum mostly-meat restaurant had just successfully catered to some vegan diners.

Cork and Cleaver is very much about red meat but when some non-meat eaters recently accompanied their carnivore friends to dinner, the kitchen helmed by Chef Nuwan swung into action to attend to their needs much to the delight of the vegan diners.

There is a ‘can-do’ attitude amongst the management and staff at this just-opened outlet in the recently made-over ‘lifestyle’ precinct of The Stories of Taman Tunku in Bukit Tunku.

Cork and Cleaver has one of two prime dining locations in the historic row of shoplots that now comprise this trendy part of town (Princeps is the other adjoining restaurant).

Both outlets have a covered but open-sided verandah that overlooks an expanse of turf with a backdrop of matured trees and gardens. While there is indoor dining (downstairs and upstairs), the hot tables are outside/downstairs and well worth reserving in advance. The upstairs area also has a small verandah, a signature bar, wine cellar, comfortable lounges and a few dining tables.

Cork and Cleaver is both a retail butchery and a restaurant so patrons can drop by and purchase mostly meats, condiments and wines to take back home or have the kitchen team prepare and cook their preferred cut for in-restaurant consumption.

The pricing is retail while there is a small charge (RM25) for cooking selected cuts.

The restaurant is opened for late breakfasts (up until 12.30pm) and then through until 10pm for some late night relaxing over your beverage of choice.

FEED ‘EM BEEF

Beef of many cuts, textures, size and country of origin is invitingly displayed in the refrigerated cabinet at the entrance to the outlet. Looking all pink, red and tempting, many have been pre-cut in readiness for customers who buy from the butchery and cook at home. Others await restaurant diners.

Trained and informed butchers are on hand to outline the finer points of each cut, the type of meat and its origins. Beef really is the hero here with prime cuts of imported and aged beef from Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Japan.

Feeling quite hungry and in a small group, we order several individual dishes and a meat platter to share. My meal starts with the creamy roasted mushroom soup (RM30). I was informed that the mushrooms are roasted with fresh thyme and garlic before being blended with a hint of fresh cream.

What stands out is the strong mushroom flavour that is not disguised or buried under layers of dairy cream. This to me is a real mushroom soup and even the garlic-infused buttered baguette on the side is noticeably delicious.

With so much imported meats and wines in Cork and Cleaver, there is very little local offerings however, it’s pleasing to see the appearance of a Dusun-Kadazan raw fish dish known as hinava (RM39).

Popularised in Sabah, the chef uses freshly cured salmon ‘cooked’ in lime and ginger and marinated with bitter gourd and chilli. Just as with the mushroom soup, the chef allows the ingredients to make an impression without over-preparing it. Malaysians will love its spiciness and the chefs can always dial back the chilli for those with more sensitive palates.

Foie gras (RM65) is a difficult dish to prepare as it needs to have a fine pedigree and then to be cooked so it doesn’t shrivel up into a meaningless puddle of fat and oil.

I salute the efforts of the Cork and Cleaver team firstly in sourcing premium French produce and then pan-searing it to perfection. Proper cooking ensured the outer layer is firm and slightly caramelised while the interior is richly delicious.

Being a small group, a platter of charcoal-grilled meats proves to be just what is required. Having carefully chosen the cuts (Australian grain-fed Angus ribeye, Argentinean grain-fed Angus ribeye, Australian grass-fed tenderloin and Australian lamb back strap), the platter was left to the kitchen to charcoal grill it; rare to medium. The result is a carnivore’s extravaganza of richly flavoured, sliced meat with a hint of smokiness and cooked as requested.

The steak is enlivened with side dishes of garlic sautéed asparagus, Parmesan truffled mash and garlic butter mushrooms. Four sauces accompanied the meat although I really don’t try as I prefer the meat au natural. While hardly a complaint, I would have enjoyed some hot English mustard, horseradish sauce and/or Béarnaise sauce on the side.

While I didn’t order the Wagyu burger (RM79), I try a sample of Wagyu beef and could only imagine the burger’s tenderness inside a brioche bun. It is served tomato, lettuce, Gorgonzola cheese and rosemary-scented mayonnaise while hand-cut fries and a salad are served on the side.

Another dish for next time was the surf n’ turf (RM169) of Angus tenderloin and baked lobster tail accompanied by Béarnaise sauce.

THE ALTERNATIVES

While premium steak is the reason most will dine here, there is a good selection of other options should anyone in your dining party be less than keen on red meat.

A glance through the menu indicates that soups, salads, fish, chicken (including an Aussie chicken and blue cheese pie), linguine frutti di mare (seafood pasta, RM49), linguine aglio aglio with pulled duck (RM49), pumpkin and wild mushroom risotto (RM45), lemon oregano chicken schnitzel burger (RM39) and lamb and fennel slaw burger (RM49), are listed.

Breakfasts of steak and eggs (RM59), tortillas (RM29), a vegetarian tower (RM30) and smoked salmon benedict (RM29) are available up until just after midday.

DELECTABLE DESSERTS

There is always room for dessert and with just three on offer; choosing is not too demanding. Two out of three provides a good assessment of what is on offer.

As hard as it is, I pass on pavlova (cooked, I’m told, in the traditional Aussie way – chewable meringue, not crunchy and with fresh cream and fruit on top, RM25) but instead, order the triple chocolate brownie (comprising white, milk and dark chocolate with vanilla ice cream on top, RM28) and bread and butter pudding with lashings of custard (RM25).

The pudding is especially buttery and made sweeter by the infusion of cranberry juice in its preparation while the brownie is wickedly rich. Both are generous portions and there is sufficient for two to share.

The outlet has a comprehensive range of beverages including non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks with an emphasis on wines, hence the cork reference. There is an extensive range of coffees, teas (hot and iced and by Harry & Sons), freshly squeezed juices, San Pellegrino sodas and mocktails.

FAST FACTS

Cork and Cleaver Butchery and Grill

WHERE Unit A2, The Stories of Taman Tunku

off Jalan Langgak Tunku, Bukit Tunku

50480 Kuala Lumpur.

TEL 03-6211-8856

HOURS 9am – 10pm daily

EAT Initially, Cork and Cleaver appears as a carnivore’s heaven but closer inspection of the menu reveals vegetarian, poultry and seafood dishes to cater to a broad range of palates. Meat-eaters will especially savour the prospect of choosing their preferred cut, country of origin, breed and portion size and having it cooked to their specific requirements.

PICK Soup lovers will love the subtlety of the mushroom soup, salads are invigorating, all beef dishes are stand out, the sides and sauces complement the beef and the triple chocolate dessert is tantalisingly sweet.

PAY Soups (RM30- RM35), starters and salads (RM29 – RM65), mains (RM49 but variable as meat is sold by weight) and desserts (RM25 – RM28).

MOOD Laid back atmosphere, serious food and prestigious wine list.

SERVICE Friendly and helpful, expect the chef to pop out to ask how to cook your meat to perfection.

I SAY Cork and Cleaver is a definite dining destination for lovers of red meat.

© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

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