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AHA votes for WA’s best two steak sandwiches at Crown Perth live cook-off

As WAtoday found during the course of our week-long road test, the competition – unlike the product – was tight and tough, with Como-based Karalee on Preston winning the official live cook-off on Wednesday – its third gong from the AHA for best steak sandwich across Perth member pubs.

In the country pub steak sandwich stakes, underrated laidback Margaret River watering hole Settler’s Tavern hit the spot with the judging panel for its sanga, as it does with much of its menu.

A previous three-time AHA winner for best regional hospitality venue and best regional casual pub dining, Settler’s settles on a steak sandwich comprising 150g of WA Black Angus rump (grilled medium), sliced in toasted bread on bacon jam with smoked tomato chutney, rocket, aioli and served with chips and pickles for $24.

While we’re yet to sample their 2019 winner, other dishes we’ve devoured from the country-style venue on Margaret River’s main strip are bang-on, with comprehensive offerings giving patrons quality pub-grub (and wine) of excellent value and flavour in a mostly extravagant food region.

As we highlighted in our secret steak sandwich taste test last week, all four Perth pubs were worthy of winning the contest … but take a bow Karalee on Preston for getting over the line with judges.

Their steak sanga (and serve of chips) was easily the biggest of the local finalists, with thick Black Angus beef perfectly cooked and a side of pork crackle a taste sensation complementing the meat.

The Perth and country cook-off winners now receive automatic entry as semi-finalists in WA’s Best Steak Sandwich category of the AHA Hospitality Awards for Excellence held later this year.

All eight WA pubs are still cooking their steak sangas on site, so be sure to order one if you find yourself there. In the meantime, here’s a recap of our intitial ‘steak-out’ from last week.

The steak sandwich on offer at High Wycombe Tavern has a few twists to the norm.

The steak sandwich on offer at High Wycombe Tavern has a few twists to the norm.Credit:DP

4th PLACE: High Wycombe Tavern, Pitch Black Angus Steak Sandwich, $24.50
200g Pitch Black Angus with pork belly, swiss cheese, tomato, rocket, caramelised onion, cabbage & fennel slaw, homemade BBQ sauce, ciabatta panini, steak fries : www.highwycombetavern.com.au

Meat tenderness: thinly sliced cut of quality meat meant little tenderness  7
Composition/presentation: underwhelming on the board, but loving the slaw  8
Originality/creativity: cabbage and fennel slaw the major star  8
Sides (e.g. chips etc): small but scrumptious serve of chips the only board addition  6
Sauces: just the sole barbecue but this homemade version is a belter  7
Flavour: sauce and slaw drives the party on the tastebuds here 9
Value for money: massive to handle but thin on chips and the cut 8
Overall presentation: solid offering with spectacular taste  7

The steak sandwich at Karalee on Preston in Como was all bling.

The steak sandwich at Karalee on Preston in Como was all bling.Credit:DP

EQUAL 2nd: Karalee on Preston (Como), Black Angus Steak Sandwich, $26
crispy pork belly, Swiss cheese, marinated tomato, rocket and caramelised onion on Turkish bread with homemade barbecue sauce and chips; winner 2014, 2017 : www.thekaralee.com.au

Meat tenderness: perfectly cooked, tender and tasty, zero gristle  9
Composition/presentation: epic appearance, melting moments all over the board  8
Originality/creativity: standard ingredients with pop, and pork crackle to top  8
Sides (e.g. chips etc): chips coated and crunchy, pork crackle a winner and pairs well  9
Sauces: homemade barbecue sauce is slightly smoky, dish served with tomato sauce  8
Flavour: great combo of ingredients, mouth hums with flavour, slightly overpowering  8
Value for money: biggest sanga of the four (and chips), bonus pork crackle, hard to finish  9
Overall presentation: overwhelming in size and flavours, one to remember  9

EQUAL 2nd: The Carlisle Hotel, Signature Carlisle Steak Sandwich, $24
MSA grade scotch fillet marinated in homemade spices, caramelised onion, egg, rocket, fresh tomato, homemade mustard relish, homemade BBQ sauce & served on warm ciabattini roll with chips and aoili (included bacon when we visited); finalist 2016, 2017 : www.thecarlislehotel.com.au

The Carlisle Hotel had the juiciest sanga of the lot that was let down by too many tomatoes.

The Carlisle Hotel had the juiciest sanga of the lot that was let down by too many tomatoes.Credit:DP

Meat tenderness: extemely tender and juicy marinated fillet, cooked medium-rare perfect  9
Composition/presentation: hits your table with attitude, thinner tastier bread and EGG!  9
Originality/creativity: homemade mustard relish a delight, solid stock-standard ingredients  8
Sides (e.g. chips etc): tasty thick-cut chips, served with aoili sauce  7
Sauces: mustard relish rocks, tangy barbecue sauce tops, t-sauce on tap at bar  9
Flavour: classic mix that drips with deliciousness, steak sanga with no frills, eggcellent  9
Value for money: stacked with ingredients that sing, a struggle to finish  9
Overall presentation: handling the only letdown, the people’s steak sandwich  8

WINNER: CY O’Connor Village Pub, Melt Beef Steak Sandwich, $24.90
herb panini, continental bacon, swiss cheese, beef fat fried onions, tomato & chilli chutney, rocket, caper & cornichon bernaise, chips & ketchup; finalist 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 : www.cyopub.com.au

CY O'Connor Village Pub has been a finalist the past four years and we think their 2019 concoction deserves the title.

CY O’Connor Village Pub has been a finalist the past four years and we think their 2019 concoction deserves the title.Credit:DP

Meat tenderness: farm-to-plate rump thin and not overly juicy but packed with flavour  7
Composition/presentation: your eyes pop on arrival, packed to perfection, no spillage  10
Originality/creativity: banging bread, delicious homemade sauces with a twist  9
Sides (e.g. chips etc): chips cut thinner and the tastiest of the four finalists  9
Sauces: bearnaise concoction is brilliant, the chutney sweet and nicely spiced  9
Flavour: every ingredient on song, thicker cut of meat and more sauce for juiciness  8
Value for money: hearty and heaving, can’t wait for the sirloin offering (when available)  8
Overall presentation: nifty touches, courageous sauces, pub’s own farmed meat  9

In our eyes (and mouth) it should have been fifth time lucky for executive chef Gavin Wright and his team at CY O’Connor Village Pub, who source meat for their hearty steak sandwich from Melaleuca Farm in the Peel region and use a “nose to tail approach” with various beef cuts across their menu.

This gives the kitchen a range of methods, cuts, flavours and textures to satisfy the season. The cut we sampled in our test was rump, with sirloin likely to be used for this week’s cook-off.

Wright is passing the flame to head chef Matt Still this year after four unsuccessful attempts to win the Crown cook-off in the past four years. “We’ve also been the first ones to cook for the judges in each of the past four years, so I’m hoping that doesn’t happen again this year,” Wright said.

The pub was a finalist last year with an American brisket style sanga but this year’s version was a return to the classic, a refined offering which won over us with its crunchy bread that was fluffy inside with cheese that held all the goodness in, with not a drop or drizzle to be seen after finishing.

2019 finalists – Perth:
High Wycombe Tavern
The Carlisle Hotel
The Karalee on Preston (Como)
C.Y. O’Connor Village Pub (Piara Waters)

2019 finalists – country WA:
Northcliffe Hotel & Motor Inn
Settlers Tavern (Margaret River)
The Bayview Bar (Bunbury)
Endeavour Tavern (Lancelin)

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