The Grill by Sean Connolly

What do you get when you combine an award winning chef from Sydney, four million dollar budget and 100 days? A world-class restaurant that was opened just in time for the Rugby World Cup. For those that have watched “Under the Grill” on TV3, you would know what I am talking about. The challenge to open an award-winning and profitable restaurant on Federal Street was given to Australian celebrity chef – Sean Conolly – in which he produced a steak and seafood restaurant called The Grill by Sean Conolly where you can find small tins of expensive caviar and chips cooked in duck fat.

I love a good steak house and this can be seen via my obsession with JSH, so I had to give this place a try. There is a nice variety of seafood and meat available in both entrees and mains as well as a raw bar (cold) that included oysters, prawns, Alaskan king crab claw and caviar.

Our steak tartare entree was prepared tableside where the waiter kindly described the ingredients used. This is a great idea as knowing the different components used in the dish allowed me to appreciate the dish even more. A taste is offered before plating incase you wanted more salt, pepper or tabasco and is served with toasted bread. It was spectacular, by far the best steak tartare I had ever tasted. The use of two egg yolks made the meat very moist and the amount of seasoning and ingredient proportion was perfect. The best part was their ample serving of bread which helped balance the rich tartare and added a nice crispy texture. The Alaskan king crab claw served with warm butter was delectable. It did take time for my partner to remove the shell but he said it was worth it as the crab meat was sweet and delicious.

For mains, I opted for fish and ordered the prosciutto wrapped Bluenose with sauteed spinach, poached egg and hollandaise sauce and my partner ordered the Savannah angus sirloin with red wine jus. As much as we loved the entrees, the mains were slightly disappointing. The combination of prosciutto and hollandaise sauce was rather savory and overpowered the fish. I ended up picking off the prosciutto which made the dish much better. The steak was undercooked for medium rare and I personally did not like the accompanying sauce.

There was not much options in terms of dessert. My partner ordered the chocolate orange tart whereas I  got the treacle tart with yoghurt sorbet. For $18 and $16 respectively, I expected a higher level of presentation and different components but instead it was just a slice of tart. The chocolate orange tart had a runny texture but otherwise, it was decent. The treacle tart, however had a nice texture and was not overly sweet. It was scrumptious when combined with the yoghurt sorbet.

If we had only eaten the entrees, I would have given The Grill by Sean Conolly an excellent rating. I might even go as far as saying that it is better than JSH. However, the mains and desserts did not mirror the price tag and the hype that was generated from the publicity. Everything else was nice. The atmposphere was nice, the decor was chic and the staff were lovely and friendly. I would surely be coming back whenever I’m craving a steak tartare but The Grill by Sean Conolly would not be my first choice when it comes to juicy tender steaks.

Date: Tuesday 4th October, 2011 | Location: Skycity Grand Hotel, 90 Federal Street, Auckland CBD | Food: Seafood and Steak


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