Escoffier Dinner at Steer Bar and Grill
August Escoffier is one of, if not the most legendary chef of all time. ‘The chef of Kings and the King of chefs’ Escoffier ruled the kitchens of France and Britain for the early part of the twentieth century and his achievements were vast and beguiling.
Although his famous dishes live on and you know them well; Peach Melba and Beef Rossini to name but two,there was another more important way in which he has left his enduring mark on our industry…he organised it. Escoffier invented a la carte dining.
Steer Bar and Grill saluted this great industry figure by serving classic French cuisine in the style that made Auguste Escoffier a legend. A collection of classic French beef dishes created in his style with wines from the Rhone.
The evening was spectacular and a highlight of 2013 for The World Loves Melbourne and Melbourne Sensory. It was a triumph for Executive Chef Shaun Nielsen and the team and a cracker event as part of Good Food Month. Check out our Best Steak and Meat Restaurants in Melbourne.
Canapé: Crayfish Newburg
Domaine de la Verpaille Cremant de Bourgogne NV
Escoffier’s recipe for sauce Newburg is very simple and its pairing with crayfish or lobster is truly a classic combination; lobster and Madeira, you can’t go wrong.
Nielsen: I wanted to shape the dish into a canapé form, to be presented on dressed silver platters and walked through the dining room. To achieve a neat and tidy canapé I’ve decided to stuff a classic savory choux bun with the warm lobster salad, the rich, powerful Madeira cream sauce poured over, filling the choux pastry.
We found it indulgent and rich compared to most "refreshing" modern starters but it was wonderful.
Double Beef Consommé, Spring Vegetables and Herb Crepes
Reserve des Armoiries Cotes du Rhone 2009
The consommé is a true classic, technical and a good representation of a chef’s skill. Achieving the extraordinary clarity of the stock with a deep and complex flavor is not that easy, in fact you rarely see consommés made in the traditional way these days.
Nielsen: Escoffier often chose to serve herb crepes with his consommés and so will I, finely julienned into the soup with another crepe on the side, stuffed with an oxtail salad, the flesh taken from the stock bones. Seasonal local organic vegetables will also garnish the soup; sparkling in the deep, rich clarified double stock.
We found this dish to be hearty and rustic with quality of stock top notch and the crepe a great accompaniment.
Steak Americaine, Melba Toast
Chateau Beauchene Cotes-du-Rhone Grande Reserve Rouge 2011
Escoffier never served a raw egg yolk with his steak Americaine or tartar as it’s more commonly known these days. Escoffier bought the condiments together into a preparation similar to a tartar styled sauce, served on the side.
Nielsen: Great grass fed beef will be diced and served chilled, the condiment of cornichons, capers, onion, fine herbs are to be mixed through to your personal taste. Scooped onto Escoffier’s Melba toast, a great way to enjoy high quality beef in its purest form and not an egg yolk in sight.
We judged this dish a highlight. As a lover of tartar I enjoyed the hit of quality beef without the effect of the egg yolk.
Pasture Fed Full Blood Wagyu, Sauce Chasseur, Pommes Parisienne
Ogier Crozes Hermitage Oratorio 2010
Meltingly tender beef, pan seared and seasoned with a little cayenne pepper, basted in foaming brown butter, the pan juices reserved for the sauce, classic French fare that Escoffier perfected. Sauce chasseur; these days most people think of a packet mix from the supermarket but as always these sauces have a deep, rich history and this one’s correct preparation is a textural masterpiece. A sauce made al a minute, in the same pan the beef was cooked, shallots, mushrooms, brandy, white wine, veal stock and finished with tomato, butter, parsley and thyme; utterly delicious.
Crunchy, golden pommes Parisienne add texture and substance to this complete, classic dish almost forgotten in the world of Thermomix machines, emersion circulators and pre-preparation.
This was also a spectacular dish, not just in terms of the phenomenal beef but the sauce that sang to us in its complexity and depth.
Poached Grain Fed Beef, Endive Salad, Blue Cheese Dressing
Reserve du Crouzau Cotes du Rhone Villages St Gervais 2009
Poaching beef is all but forgotten in today’s kitchens; I do recall this preparation from my younger days, great beef is the key…
You need powerful beef bouillon for the poaching and 300 day grain fed beef, I will be using Rangers Valley Angus beef from Northern NSW.
Escoffier was famous for his blue cheese dressings, research shows that the commonly used Roquefort cheese was not his favorite; it was the darker, moodier Fourme d’Ambert from Auvergne.
After the beef is poached and resting, the rich bouillon is reduced slightly and a little cream is added to enrich it further and napped over the sliced beef, the sharp salad and dressing cutting the richness of the beef perfectly.
I enjoyed the presentation of this dish. The poaching of beef was something new for me, but the quality undeniable. As a lover of blue cheese this combination was the perfect match.
Beef Bourguignon, Duchesse Potatoes, Asparagus Fricassee
Domaine Tour-Saint-Michel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge Cuvee des Deux Soeurs 2009
Escoffier didn’t create this famous dish, he refined and standardised it…making it his, lifting a peasant dish to the tables of the establishment in Paris and London.
His recipe is extremely simple but also very exacting, his masterful ability to create consistency through his ‘mother sauce’ standardisation and intense quality control makes this dish at home in any environment.
I’ve chosen full blood wagyu cheeks and lower heal muscles for the braise. The intense sauce of red burgundy, penetrating the muscles as they slowly cook. The braise is finished in the oven, the top piped with Duchesse potato and baked until it is golden brown and crunchy, ready to be shared at the table, sautéed asparagus the perfect accompaniment.
I'm amazed this was a peasant dish originally. Again, this was a rustic and hearty dish of note.
Domaine Loew Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive Ostenberg 2009
Created for Dame Nellie Melba in 1892 at the Savoy Hotel in London by Escoffier, he served the dish to her in an ice sculpture, poached peaches, rich vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce, garnished with spun sugar.
I will bring together this great combination of flavors but modernize the presentation and textures with glass wafers, vanilla wafers and dehydrated raspberries.
Having experienced several Peach Melba's over the years, it was fascinating to go back to the source. Poached peaches reminded me of my youth. I also enjoyed the combination of flavours and modernising of the presentation.
Nielsen: I think the man himself would approve…. but then sack me for correcting the repertoire!!
We left Steer on a high - big thanks for such an epic culinary journey of one of the masters. The food was stellar, service top notch and the matching Rhone wines superb. Magnifique!