Mad about the steak

TRY THIS: Buffalo veal sweetbreads. Crisp on the outside, soft and succulent in the middle.
TRY THIS: Buffalo veal sweetbreads. Crisp on the outside, soft and succulent in the middle.

Such is the contrariety of today's food service industry that both a trend and a counter-trend are able to operate simultaneously.

On the one hand there's focusing on nature and making healthy seem stylish, as at Loretta and Queen Sally's Diamond Deli.

On the other there's a trend to extra indulgence, as seen in the KFC Double Down, and a return to retro male values, as exemplified by the cheerleader logo for Auckland's Skysport Grill.

CRAZY HORSE: Order your steak by the gram.
CRAZY HORSE: Order your steak by the gram.

Teetering on a serrated Laguiole blade between crass and refined is today's upscale, American-influenced steakhouse.

Like the others that have followed, Crazy Horse is sufficiently posh for a trophy wife to endure, on the understanding she's really just letting hubby have his way with a monster steak.

Seeing a 600-gram bone-in ribeye laid down before the gentleman next to me as a single portion, I pondered the symbolism of such a gesture.

If nothing else, it was his way of announcing to the world that he could afford the $50 tag for this Cro-Magnon hunk of manliness.

But even $50 is nothing in comparison with the wagyu striploin, which is listed on the menu as costing 55c a gram, minimum of 200g. If I were in the management's shoes, I don't think I could quite bring myself to write "from $110" either.

Unlike conventional, ethically superior, grass-fed beef, the flavour of grain-fed wagyu is found predominantly in the fat. That made Crazy Horse's wagyu fat roast potatoes a tasty proposition, and indeed, once we'd brushed off the excess surface salt, they were fabulous.

As for our steak, my niece Eva found her black angus fillet ($32) perfectly medium rare and all the tastier for being grass-fed. She gave me a great wodge, 200g being more than she could eat; 350g normally feeds her family of four.

Since extra sauces were just $2.50 each, we ordered three - bearnaise, wild mushroom and red wine glaze with bone marrow - all excellent.

But alas my duck breast had been left glisteningly raw in the middle, and hence was sinewy and tough. Token smears of cold yoghurt and random scatterings of witloof and carrot ambled incoherently across the plate.

I'd actually wanted to order the lamb, but after having struggled to explain the dish and failing to recommend a suitable wine match, our rookie waitron reappeared to announce that the dish had completely changed, and did I still want to order it?

Then her colleague had to admit they'd run out of Maude pinot. This is why restaurateurs hold pre-service briefings.

The current fit-out, which features various quality paintings for sale, is pleasant enough, but secretly I miss Crazy Horse as originally designed by Michael Nalder, when ghostly portraits of Chief Crazy Horse and his contemporaries graced the walls, along with a lavish great mural-like painting of a chief spearing a buffalo.

As I walked in for a third visit in early 2009, I shouted to the maitre d' in total innocence, thinking there must surely be some mistake: "John! Are you aware your laundry supplier has taped a notice of debt recovery proceedings to the front window of Buena Vista Social Club? "

A short time later both Buena Vista and Crazy Horse closed - the latter only temporarily, as it now turns out - but the fancy chattels disappeared forever.


Buffalo veal sweetbreads. Crisp on the outside, soft and succulent in the middle, these are much refreshed by their petite salade of celery and red onion, dressed with blue cheese and tarragon. An optional gilding of hot sauce dots the perimeter.


129 Willis St

Phone: 801 5152

Fully licensed

Open every evening 5pm to late, Fri noon to late.

Price range of mains: $28-$110 plus

Cost: $134 for two (excluding wine)

Food: 3/5

Service: 2.5/5

Ambience: 3.5/5

Wine list: 3.5/5

The Dominion Post