Food

Berwick plates up the best of CBD dining at MPD Steak Kitchen

A serious steak restaurant and bar has opened on the corner of Greaves and Clyde Roads in Berwick, and The World Loves Melbourne (Georgina and Jess) was invited to the launch. A former nightclub site has been transformed into 200-seater MPD Steak Kitchen, led by former Vue Group executive chef Chris Bonello. Image above: MPD Instagram.

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The concept site, owned by the Zagame Corporation is a restaurant 18 months in the making. The name a nod to the Meat Packing District in New York City, and careful research taken abroad at some of the worlds best steak restaurants in Las Vegas, they've taken the idea of bringing fine dining to Berwick and are running wild with flair and creativity.

We stepped into the space that previously hosted a night club, past cow hides and onto reclaimed wood flooring to to find ourselves under hanging greenery, a wall of bovines across the room from a row of gleaming spirits, the western theme flowing throughout. Sophisticated, atmospheric, and delightfully a little quirky, this certainly is setting a new standard for suburban fine dining; once through the wooden doors we found ourselves transported to another world, the thoughts stuck on repeat, we're not in Kansas anymore.

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The entire venue is a feast of textures; suede chairs, wooden floors, brass and gold fixtures and soft lighting. Not a detailed been spared in this exciting new restaurant, bringing a city dining experience out to the south eastern suburbs.

Bonello’s menu at MPD is steak focused – offering a selection of regular, to the more unusual cuts of beef, like Pope’s Eye which is part of the rump and full of flavour.

Bonello sources the majority of the beef locally from suppliers like O’Connor Beef and Vic’s Premium Quality Meat, and also brings in the big guns like David Blackmore Wagyu and Cape Grim to complement. Lamb (Flinders Island), fish, poultry and pork lovers should be satisfied, with shared entrees and sides rounding out the offering.

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Chickpea fries with house made barbecue sauce, popcorn chicken bites, zingy steak tartare served on crisp witlof, and decadent Truffle Mac and Cheese were just a taste of the sampling menu available prior to opening night and the full menu promises something for everyone, including a buttery house made gnocchi with confit duck should steak not be your persuasion. For the strict carnivore, the chargrilled, melt in your mouth Rangers Valley popeseye steak was one of the many different cuts of beef available.

The 600 Gram Rib Eye is simply sensational; with compelling cocktails, Truffle Mac n Cheese, Slaw, brussel sprouts and pancetta. All our favourite things! Image above: MPD Instagram.

Recognised as Shannon Bennett’s right hand man at Vue Group (seven venues including Vue de monde, Bistro Vue, Café Vue), Bonello is working alongside former Attica restaurant manager and head sommelier Banjo Harris Plane, who has been consulting with MPD on building the 250-strong wine list.

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Over the raw edged timber bar top came a delightful selection of cocktails, special mention to the exotic Passionfruit and Cardamom Margarita and award winning Ruby Rose Martini, created by bartender in residence.

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In particular it favours local Victorian and Australian wines, plus Argentinian, French, Italian and Spanish varietals. The collection is stored in a glass-encased climate controlled ‘floating’ wine cellar, raised three metres off the ground. Bonello says the opportunity to run a kitchen outside the Melbourne CBD was an appealing one. “It’s clear Berwick and the surrounding South East suburbs of Melbourne have a really solid, but relatively untapped customer base to date. “It will be rewarding to bring a slice of CBD standard dining to the area, in a role where I have been given total creative license over the menu. It’s what made this opportunity so appealing. “Yes we’re taking the steak offering seriously, but the menu is approachable – it’s top quality food without too much fuss and fanfare,” says Bonello.

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The MPD build and design, costing in excess of $3 million, is a vision of owners Robert and Victor Zagame. The brief for the two level space was to create a customer journey from start to finish, giving a sensory overload of touch, smell and sight. It’s moody and eclectic. After entering through the narrow hallway – a sensory experience which feels like you’re walking through a grill – guests will encounter the dining space, and note tones of charcoal, contrasting light and dark woods, offset by white and red neon, copper finishes, leather booths, cow hides, over 50 different light fittings, blue leather bar front, and quirky sculptures and wall features.

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A chef’s table seating up to 10 people serves Bonello’s dishes on bespoke crockery by local ceramic artist and sculptor Andrei Davidoff. Guests have a bird’s-eye view of the main restaurant floor from the second level mezzanine, which also doubles as a private dining area. From the bar, MPD venue manager Marcus Fabian says guests can expect “an extensive selection of quality bourbon and scotch, plus a focus on local craft beers and ciders like Grand Ridge Brewery from Mirboo North, and O’Brien Gluten Free Pale Ale from Ballarat. “The cocktail list is adventurous, incorporating liquid nitrogen on tap, something rarely seen in Melbourne,” Fabian says. The opening of MPD is also significant for local employment in the area - 80 per cent of staff live within a 10km radius.

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If you enjoying the sleek city dining experience but are looking for something special a little closer to home head over to MPD Steak Kitchen and experience it for yourself!

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