18 June 2009

The Manhattan Lounge: $7 Steak, Sydney (17 June 2009)

Lower Ground, 50 Elizabeth Street, Cnr Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000

Cheap and slightly tacky

Back in October 2007 the swish and stylish looking restaurant and bar called Wine Banq sadly closed it's doors and today is now home to The Manhattan Lounge which their website informs: Is the latest creation of Sydney Restaurant icon Denise Winters who is famous for 'Affordable Elegance'. As you walk up to the entrance your confronted with numerous hand written signs which relates to the 'affordable' theme and it's not until you walk down the stairs that you notice the more 'elegant' touches.

I've been once before during a very busy lunch crowd and this evening from 5 pm is much more sedate with just 2 of us dining as their first customers. After the initial hurdle of trying to get in after a maintenance person had accidently locked the entrance door behind them a comedy of errors seemed to follow and I felt a bit like I was stuck in a Fawlty Towers moment. While walking down the stairs I heard Denise Winters telling off the maintenance person for locking the door — I saw a huge kitchen knife left out on a counter — my chair wobbled and noticed one of the legs was broken and about to fall off — the fish tank projection wasn't aligned to the screen — our salt shaker had no salt but a piece of paper rolled up inside — while dining to nice ambient music a person turned on the nightclub laser lights to test them. I was expecting John Cleese to come out and be our waiter!

To start I try their Cosmopolitan served in a fancy glass that I guess tries to match the Art Deco features of the room. There's not much volume and the presence of alcohol is very subtle — I guess you can't expect too much for $7. I order the steak medium rare and even though it's quite a thin steak it came out mostly medium rare but the cheap cut eventually reveals a bit of chewy grizzle around some of it. The mushroom sauce was quite nice but made most of my chips soggy. The lemon caper sauce for the fish was quite nice too but having chips placed on the bottom made them go soggy also.

Except for the $10 steaks next door at Hotel Chambers there's not many places I know of in the heart of the city that do a decent cheap steak. You need to venture further towards Haymarket for Sanctuary Hotel $11 steaks, Circular Quay for Bar Luca $12 steak including drink or towards Surry Hills for more options like the Forresters Hotel famous $7 steak.

Please tell me where's your favourite 'cheap' steak place in Sydney for my next visit?

Cosmopolitan cocktail $7 (specials menu)

250gm rump steak with mushroom sauce and chips $7 (when bought with a drink)

Fish fillets with lemon caper sauce & sweet potato chips $15

Steamed vegetables $6

Hand written table numbers continue the cheap looking theme

Notice the misaligned fish tank projection

Lounge dining area

Handwritten signs reinforce the cheap prices

So many promotional signs at the entrance — perhaps too many?


YaYa said...

Wobbly chair and no salt? Haha, that's taking recession eating a bit too far ;-) I think the best cheap steak has to be the one I make myself!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Sounds like Fawlty Towers indeed. Best steak place in the city? Mad Cow?

Anonymous said...

Don't know if I can bring myself to go to a 'desecrated' Wine Banc. Ahh ... memories ...
For cheap steaks, try the Robin Hood in Charing Cross. Always reliable. Otherwise, in the city, the NSW Leagues Club (Phillip St) does a decent enough version too.
PS On a different tack, have you tried Abang Sam (Kensington)'s Penang laksa? Amazing.

Simon Leong said...

hi yaya, can't beat a home made steak for cheapness

hi lorraine, mad cow do cook a good steak that's for sure

hi Gobsmack'd, thanks for the tips for steak. i've been to the nsw leagues. used to be a regular friday for me in the bistro. i haven't tried the Abang Sam laksa. will have to put on the wish list :-)

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