Quartermaster: the accidental burger

I don’t know about you, but finding a reasonably priced and good quality steak in Hong Kong is pretty difficult.  Don’t get me wrong, you can find an amazing piece of beef here if you pay a premium, a premium that makes your eyes water at times.

So, I was pretty intrigued when I found out a place in Sai Ying Pun that sells steak by the gram (minimum of 100 grams); what’s more, it was all grass fed Aussie beef.

Giving a new meaning to symbiotic relationship, Quartermaster is a small restaurant attached to Bones & Blades, a butcher that embraces the concept of sustainable farming.  By using only small family owned farms, where the grass fed cattle roam free, grazing on nutrient rich grasses, the collective aim was to provide top quality steaks.

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As we arrived for our dinner and were seated, there was a clear link between the restaurant and butcher, with a dry ageing fridge acting as a window between the two spaces.  We were seated right below the ageing beef; but it wouldn’t be the only time we’d be confronted with raw produce!

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Quartermaster is very much a casual dining spot, with seating for around twenty, at full capacity, most of the space is taken up with the kitchen area.  Tables were small and casual, each with paper placemats and skull shaped ketchup receptacles; yeah, the blood red of the sauce in the clear glass skulls was a little macabre!  No menus were presented, the short and sharp menu located on a huge blackboard that was a little hard to read at times.

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We’d only intended to come for a couple of quick steaks, just to check out the quality of the beef and to see if Quartermaster would be a good little regular dining spot.  But of course, it didn’t really work out that way; we’d spotted a beef tartare on the menu and decided it was a must try.

Our wild Herefordshire beef tartare was presented on a simple bread board with a roll of toasted baguette and was packed with capers, gherkins and jalapeños.  Unusually, there didn’t appear to be any egg yolk with the tartar, which often gives a slightly creamy texture to a tartar and helps bind the dish together.  I have to say though, I didn’t miss the yolk, the fresh beef was lovely and tender, quite sweet and well balanced.  The gherkin gave a little acidity and a salty flavour came from capers; I purposefully skipped the heat of the jalapeños, but the girl thought it was a nice touch.

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I’d ordered 250 grams of the grass-fed Australian OBE tenderloin, which was duly presented to me prior to cooking for some reason.  I’ll admit, the raw beef looked shimmery and fresh on the wax paper it was presented on, but I really just wanted it on the grill and cooked for consuming.

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I’ll freely admit that I loved watching our chef prepare my steak, and as a bonus, I was close enough to the grill to get the smokey aroma of cooking beef start my saliva ducts working overtime.  The smell reminded me of times back home grilling a decent steak on the BBQ.  By the time my steak arrived, I was literally salivating at the prospect chowing into my meat.  Presented incredibly simply on an iron plate with a piece of cos lettuce for company, the steak looked the goods.  I’d asked for medium rare, but found that it was probably a little closer to rare; not really a problem as I’d rather slightly undercooked than over cooked beef.

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I found the beef to be very tender, well seasoned and quite tasty; but it did suffer a little from being rare and not medium rare.  The beef was actually still cool in the centre and really needed an extra few minutes on the grill.  Not a disaster, but it would have been more flavoursome with a bit more cooking time.

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Initially wanting a steak as well, the girl had made a last minute decision and ordered the beef burger with bacon and cheese.  It turned out to be an inspired choice, the fat and slightly greasy looking burger had cheese melting all over the place and bacon was literally falling out of the sides!  One bite was all it took to understand that the Quartermaster burger was a thing of beauty; the medium rare patty was meaty and delicious, the cheese and bacon a perfect balance of saltiness and cheesy goodness, the special sauce providing a little zing.  I’d only been allowed one bite from the girl (and I took a big one), but it was enough to call it the best burger in HK!

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Served with our mains were some rough cut potato chips with the skin still on; the basket filled with golden sticks of joy.  Crunchy exterior and soft in the centre, the well seasoned fries were delicious and very more(ish).  Each perfect bite delivering a punch of flavour and an audible crunch.

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We did decide to hang around for dessert, but there wasn’t a lot of choice.  There was only one dessert on offer, the ‘bounty in a bowl….  It sounded pretty fancy, but was really just a simple bowl of textures and flavours of chocolate.  Simple as it was, with layers of milk chocolate, coconut and dark chocolate, it showed that very often, simplicity can deliver the biggest wow moments.

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With a disc of dark chocolate covering a pile of milk chocolate fudge and coconut cream, we completed a satisfying ‘crack’ of the disc with our spoon to reveal the concoction underneath.  It was wonderful and creamy, the simple flavours blending together for a taste explosion!  Crunch came from the chocolate disc and there were hidden squares of chocolate jelly in bowl, each providing a surprising punch of flavour.

I’d gone to Quartermaster looking for a decent and reasonably steak restaurant that I could visit regularly when I wanted a simple meal.  To be sure, I could definitely go along and have a decent steak for under three hundred bucks; which is no simple feat in Honkers.  What I’d really found though was (arguably) the best burgers in town.

In fact, we loved the burgers so much at Quartermaster, we’ve  been back far too many times in the two weeks since our first visit.  I’ve gone there for a quick weekday lunch (there is a lunchtime special that includes a starter, chips and dessert), we’ve gone there for an after work burger and most recently a Saturday afternoon hit of those delicious burgers.

I think I’ve found a new food addiction….

http://www.quartermasterhk.com

@FoodMeUpScotty

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