As the name suggests, this is a restaurant where the specialty is beef and quality beef because it’s all grass-fed.
A good friend of ours invited us to join him and a few of our mutual friends for dinner at Mumu Grill, and as he loves his steak, this is a restaurant where he dines frequently.
Drew and I arrived on time and noted there are outdoor tables that are a little protected from the elements with plastic screens and as it’s winter, you’re kept warm with outdoor heaters. But even so, as the air was fresh, I did hope we had an indoor table.
The interior of the restaurant is modern and minimalist with a lot of wood and glass however the waitress told us our table wasn’t in the restaurant, it was in the private dining room. We followed her out of the restaurant and down the street where we entered through a doorway and found the private room.
It has a large communal wooden table with an enormous wood-fired pizza oven that was doing a good job of warming the room. But private dining rooms can be a hit-and-miss affair where you can feel you’ve been removed from the atmosphere and vibe of the restaurant itself. This dining room had that feel, especially as it seemed remote from the restaurant itself.
Our waitress was lovely and attentive when in the room but pretty much, we were left to ourselves. The room also didn’t have any music and I do think music elevates a dining experience.
The restaurant has a comprehensive wine list however, it does allow you to also BYO and our group had chosen to bring a selection of wines. We had two jugs of tap water on the table but these quickly ran out and were not refilled. As the waitress was not often in the room, we looked after pouring our own drinks.
As we were a group booking there was a set menu with the food arriving either through some internal servery doors or leaving the restaurant, going along the street and coming in through the side door.
Our meal started with house-baked bread with dips that somehow I didn’t photograph. It was lovely that the bread was served warm however it was a soft and nondescript type of bread and I would have preferred something wood-fired or a sourdough freshly baked in the pizza oven behind me. There were two dips and these went well with the bread.
Next we had a mixed platter of Jamon Serrano, zucchini flowers stuffed with goat’s cheese and with a tomato sauce, and olives. Jamon Serrano is a dry-cured Spanish ham and I really loved the slice I had. It would have been nice to have had a little more of the ham that went very well with the selection of Spanish olives. The olives were very good and not too salty.
My favourite item on the tapas plate was the stuffed and fried zucchini flowers. I love zucchini flowers and these were generously stuffed with goat’s cheese and fried in a very light and crunchy batter. The zucchini still had a lot of crunch and the tomato sauce complimented the goat’s cheese stuffing beautifully.
There were three options on the main course menu. The first was slow cooked pork ribs cooked in a house-made BBQ sauce and served with coleslaw and chips. This was a very generous dish and the meat was very tender, falling easily from the bone and the BBQ sauce had a wonderful smokiness to it.
A few at the table chose the roasted New Zealand king salmon with watercress, beetroot, confit zucchini with a ginger and turmeric yoghurt. This was Drew’s choice and he was asked how he would like his salmon cooked and he said rare and that is what he was given. This was a very pretty dish with beautiful presentation and lots of colour on the plate. Although I’m not sure what happened to the beetroot. All those who ordered it really enjoyed it and thought the salad with it’s fresh baby peas and the fragrant yoghurt sauce went very well with the salmon.
But now we come to the third choice and that was the steak. It was a 300gm grass-fed scotch fillet served with green beans. As this is a restaurant specialising in quality beef that’s all grass-fed, I knew I wanted to try the steak. I was asked how I would like it cooked and I said medium-rare, as did the others.
When my steak arrived I was immediately underwhelmed. Firstly it had done the long travel from the kitchen, through the restaurant, along the street and into the private dining room. Very difficult for the meal to be any warmer than tepid after that journey.
Then the dish looked uninspiring and with just two elements on the plate, bland. The only effort that had gone into the presentation was in getting the beans into a straight line. When I saw there was no sauce, I immediately thought of Australia’s celebrity chef, Manu, and could hear him saying, ‘Where is the love?’ I asked the waitress if there was meant to be some sauce and she said I could have a selection of mustards. I chose dijon and she brought some to the table.
I later found out there are sauces available but they’re charged at an additional $3.50. Perhaps we weren’t offered any because it was a set menu.
Then I cut into the steak and it wasn’t medium-rare, it was beyond well done. It was dry and tasteless and without some moisture from a sauce, I couldn’t eat it. Everyone else who ordered the steak enjoyed a medium-rare steak. I then tried the beans and they were under-done. I picked one up in my fingers and snapped it in two as you would a raw bean.
A platter of rustic fries had been placed in the centre of the table so I tossed a few onto my plate. They were dry and again, came with no sauce; an aioli would have been nice. It was too difficult eating overdone steak, undercooked beans and dry chips so I didn’t eat anything. The waitress came over and agreed the steak was overcooked and said it would take the chef five minutes to cook me another one. As most people at our table had already finished, I told her not to bother. Even though I couldn’t eat my meal, it was still on the bill.
No desserts were mentioned on the set menu but the restaurant was aware there were two people at our table celebrating birthdays. Two desserts arrived, an ice cream and an apple crumble. We shared them between the nine of us. I didn’t see the bill but I’m assuming these desserts were complimentary.
The price for the set menu is $55.00 per person plus corkage. I guess if you can eat your meal, that’s quite good value.
Mumu Grill is a restaurant specialising in grass-fed quality steaks. It runs cooking classes, has an online meat box delivery service, recipes that can be downloaded from their website and a VIP club. While the restaurant itself has a beautiful interior and plenty of atmosphere, I think sometimes a private dining room can remove you from that sense of being part of a restaurant and leave you feeling detached. In a restaurant priding itself on its quality grass-fed beef, an overcooked steak should not leave the kitchen. And sauce. A steak without sauce is just boring.
Verdict: A few flaws.
Mumu Grill: 70 Alexander Street, Crows Nest NSW 2065
Ph: 61 2 9460 6877