Ribs & Burgers, Cafe Court at The Star Sydney

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sometimes all you feel like eating is a burger. Or ribs, Dad's case. And sometimes, no matter how hard you try to stay on your healthy/veggie-based/wholegrain/low-calorie/no-sweets diet, you just have to order the premium wagyu beef, cheese-and-onion ring burger with the lot. Topped with smotherings of BBQ sauce and a side of chunky fried chips. This is the kind of diet where dude food rules.

Unbeknown to some, Sydney's The Star Casino houses an upmarket, family friendly food court on its ground level, aptly named Cafe Court. Walk inside past the dazzling lights of Adriano Zumbo and moody furnishings of Momofuku Seibo and you'll come to an attractive set-up of plush booth seating, sparkling feature lights and trays laden with non-plastic cutlery and white crockery. Dining options at this classy food court include dumpling hero Din Tai Fung, Wooloomooloo's Flying Fish inspired little sister Flying Fish and Chips, a hip cafe, a Malaysian hawker style eatery, Turkish Grill and further down, the infamous Gelato Messina among many other joints. On this particular meat-craving day, what we were craving was Ribs & Burgers.

Like its siblings in Neutral Bay, Bondi and Broadway, this eatery combines the efficiency of its food court location and the expertise and quality of a stand-alone restaurant to give the best of both worlds. Set in a relatively small space that places the ordering counter next to the open-air grill, one can only drool walking past the human-sized blackboard-style menu and inhaling the smoky, charcoal fumes. Stand in front of this menu and you'll catch a glimpse of the ribs and burger that are on offer, alongside steak, tempting sides and salads. Order and you'll receive a buzzer that will signal when your meal is ready, and you can take it back to your table food-court style on the quintessential plastic tray. Except here, you can get so much more than the typical food court food.

Hmm. What to choose?

 Italian Style Feather Steak ($17)

The Italian style feather steak was one of two steaks listed on the menu, which was served rustically on a wooden board dressed in olive oil, herbs and pepper with a wedge of lemon on the side. Much like a minute steak, this was a little chewy due to its thinness although the lemon and seasoning perked it up a bit. It came with your choice of side - chips or cabbage salad. The salad was crunchy and had a variety of textures and flavours given by the pine nuts, green apple and strips of red cabbage but came in a plastic bowl that was too small for its large serving size. 

Steakhouse Burger ($18)

The Steakhouse Burger came too on a wooden board, its layers of onion, tomato, cos lettuce, pickles and rib eye steak held in the soft bun with a toothpick. This was quite cute compared to other chunkier, heftier burgers we'd eaten before, and was easily demolished without feeling too overfull. The steak was cooked to our liking, with a hint of pink in the middle, and quite tender. 

Ribs & Burgers Combo ($25)

Dad just had to try the ribs and burgers combo, which came with your choice of ribs and 2 mini burgers (either beef or chicken). He'd ordered the pork ribs, which came as a set of 4 marinated, charred sticky ribs which had a reasonably equivalent bone to meat ratio and could've done with a bit more meat. The burgers - one chicken and one beef - were quite moist thanks to the addition of sauce, but not quite as nice as if you'd ordered a full-sized burger, lacking a little something that would've made them stand out. 

Overall it was a good meal, but the prices were quite high in comparison to what we were actually served in terms of food. Yes, it is a food court in the middle of one of Sydney's most famous casinos, but it wouldn't be something we'd have every time we came. With room left after eating, we decided to get some dessert from Din Tai Fung around the corner. I was in the mood for a little bit of Asian sweetness.

Black Sesame Buns (3 for $5.50)

We ordered 3 black sesame buns from DTF; the perfect way to end the meal. I find them satisfying no matter what mood I'm in, regardless of or whether or not I have any room left in my stomach for dessert. They're warm, light and not too unhealthy, the fluffy white bun pulled open to reveal a thick, sweet, jet black sesame lava that oozes out as you take a bite. Like Heaven in a bun.


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