Normally when I dine out it is in the knowledge that my meal is much more likely to be good than average. I learned many years ago that wandering around, and just walking in on a feeling, only works for people who are really easy to please. I’m not a person who goes to dinner looking to critique, but I also know what is purely sustenance versus something that has real flavour.
I’ll admit that there is good personal reason why I haven’t eaten at the Cherry Tree Hotel until now. I have lived close by for several months, and I’ve enjoyed many beers here outside in the sun, or inside near the fire. The reason is that, for no reason, I’m worried my first meal will be average and I won’t want to go back again!
To keep my views in check (because I was always going to be as positive as I could be), I have brought my mate we affectionately call “Chef”, because he is the harshest (often unreasonably) critic I know. Chef has been a chef for over three decades and his experience is extensive. Sometimes in areas you would not expect given his English heritage; like Chinatown and dumplings, cheap steak nights, and simple bacon and eggs.
Well tonight is the Cherry Tree Hotel’s steak night. Potentially an absolute steal at $15 for a scotch fillet with roasted potatoes, steamed vegetables (or chips and salad), and a pepper or butter sauce. It’s quite busy following the earlier after work drinks rush (there’s a huge buzz on Friday nights especially) which is a good sign.
The other good sign is the presentation on the plate, with a certain brightness and shine to the potatoes and vegetables, which taste as good as they look. But we are here for the steak, both having chosen medium-rare. Medium-rare is the steak lover’s go-to when ordering at a non-steak restaurant for the first time. It is the same as making sure you shallow dive in a new pool, even if you are sure you’re at the deep end.
Hallelujah! The steak is medium-rare, and the scotch fillet is a good cut, with reasonably consistent tenderness. I’m pleased and already thinking about the numerous occasions I’ll be able to catch up with friends around the corner for a good quality $15 steak. Having let the dust settle the next day I texted Chef for his rating out of five and his four didn’t surprise me for a normal person, but for Chef to give a four means this is far more than just your average cheap pub steak.
The Cherry Tree Hotel is an awesome place to have a drink and I’m a proud local. With a steak night like this, Wednesday cooking at home could be put on a bit of a back-burner given the number of great sunny evenings coming up over summer. The craft beers, and great kick-back atmosphere, only adds to the equation.