City Grill Room
535 Little Lonsdale St Melbourne VIC 3000
An old school friend of ours was down visiting Melbourne for business and we thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to catch up over some steaks. We rarely get this chance due to busy schedules and different cities, so we wanted somewhere with good, unpretentious food but also a suitable atmosphere for chatting. City Grill Room was already well known for having consistently solid steaks so we thought we’d go and try it out.
Even though the restaurant is located on Little Lonsdale Street, the main entrance is actually on a little side street. It’s quite a large place, with an open-view kitchen where are able to see the chefs at work. Despite the fact that it was a Saturday night, the restaurant was quite empty which allowed us to talk freely, but I expect that this wouldn’t be the case on a busier day.
The menu is largely meat-centred (as you would expect), with a few salads and side dish options. The steaks range from $23 for a 200g rump to more than double that for a 300g eye fillet, and everything in between. If steaks aren’t your cup of tea, there’s also a choice of ribs, lamb, pork belly, seafood and burgers. The mains come with your choice of chips, baked potato or salad, and for $4.50 extra you also get a gravy boat filled with delicious sauce.
The first thing I want to mention about my experience is that I was quite disappointed with the service we received that night. Usually I’m pretty relaxed about this as long as the quality of the food is good, but I felt that the waiter serving us was quite impatient while we were deciding on our orders, especially considering that the restaurant wasn’t busy at all. He didn’t smile once the entire time that he took our orders and seemed very disinterested in his job, which gives a very poor impression. For me, this contrasted greatly with another recent experience at a great steak restaurant in Melbourne where the waiters went the extra mile to explain the different steaks and provide recommendations for each individual diner.
That being said, the meal itself at City Grill Room was great. Before our food came, we were given some complimentary bread and butter, which is always welcome on my table. I ordered the 400g rib eye on the bone with a side salad and green peppercorn sauce (my favourite!). I have to say, I was very impressed with the steak when it came – it was nicely seared on all sides with perfect grill lines, and it was MASSIVE! I honestly expected the bone to be a lot larger so it was a nice surprise to see such a big, thick piece of steak.
More importantly, it was perfectly cooked to medium rare. It was evident that the steak had been well-rested as it was delightfully juicy and tender, and there was a great chariness to it imparted by the grill. The generous serving of peppercorn sauce was also absolutely delicious and was a great complement to the hero of the dish.
K’s more conservative 250g porterhouse was also cooked very well, and his mushroom sauce was wonderfully creamy (although mine was still better!). Even though the chips that he ordered as a side didn’t look fantastic, they were actually surprisingly crunchy and delicious. I definitely regretted my salad after tasting them.
As for our friend’s pork ribs? He thought they were pretty damn good as well!
Barring the poor service, we all really enjoyed our meals at City Grill Room. Both K and I agree that the steaks aren’t the absolute best that we’ve had given the fairly considerable price tag, but that’s most likely due to the quality of the produce itself rather than the cooking. Still, we were very impressed with the size and especially the thickness of the steaks (no one likes a thin steak), as well as the delicious sauces (although it would be nice if each steak came with a complimentary sauce instead of having to pay extra for them). I’d definitely recommend this place to anyone who’s looking for a good old-fashioned steak without all of the bells and whistles of a fancy restaurant. However, if you’re looking for a top-quality steak or wanting to celebrate a special occasion somewhere nice, there are definitely far better options in Melbourne.