When Alex Cameron cooks a steak, it’s an artform. It’s an exact science; perfected over his many years as a chef. His face lights up when he talks about marble scores and muscle systems.
It’s why he and wife Jen have a reserve steak selection on their evening menu at Water Street Kitchen. Served with smoked pumpkin, onion caramel, porcini crisp and jus, each steak is unique and varies in size because “cuts should be intuitive, rather than arbitrary”.
The description of each steak includes breed, cut, origin, marble score and whether it was grass or grain fed. “They’re something you wouldn’t expect to see at your local pub. People want to come to a restaurant and order something they can’t experience at home,” Alex said.
Alex buys his meat from Bundy Chop Shop and Rum City Foods before dry aging it onsite for 30 days. “Dry aging should only be done on cuts of meat that have a bone to stop shrinkage and minimise moisture loss,” Alex said. “Dry aging improves tenderness and flavour, but the bold flavour is not for everybody.”
Alex’s favourite steak is a striploin or sirloin. “It’s the best of both worlds – it has just the right amount of fat and marbling, and the muscle has been worked just the right amount,” he said. “But if I had the choice of any steak it would be onglet or hanger steak, taken from the diaphragm or lower belly. It’s sometimes known as the butchers’ cut because they like to keep it for themselves.”
Prior to opening Water Street Kitchen in Bundaberg, Alex worked for Moo Moo Wine Bar and Grill in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Fiji, where he cooked Master Kobe, regarded as the world’s most pure Wagyu beef. “It’s the kind of stuff you hear about on the news,” Alex said. “At the time, there were only two restaurants in the Southern Hemisphere that had it on their menu. We sold it for about $100 a steak, with nothing else on the plate. The cows are fed vine-ripened tomatoes. They get massaged. They listen to classical music and get drunk on sake just before they are slaughtered, so they aren’t stressed. It was phenomenal meat to work with,” he said.
Alex’s tips FOR THE perfect medium steak
Start with quality meat that’s well butchered.
Bring the meat out of the fridge at least 30 minutes (up to an hour) before cooking to rest until it’s room temperature right the way through. If you cook fridge-cold, well-marbled meat the fat won’t render properly.
Oil and salt the meat (Water Street Kitchen use a thyme salt).
Use a fiercely hot char grill or fry pan (if you’re cooking indoors you’ll need a “NASA-grade” ventilation system).
Place the steak down flat on the grill for 30 seconds. Rotate 90 degrees and grill for another 30 seconds, to create a cross char on the steak. Flip the steak over and grill for 30 seconds. Rotate 90 degrees and grill until blood starts to pool on the surface.
Remove from the grill and rest for five minutes before serving.
WATER STREET KITCHEN, 85 Water Street, Walkervale. (07) 4196 0689