As I waited, with anticipation and a slight twinge of fear, I tried not to think too hard about the fact it was the first day of Meat Free Week and I was about to eat a two-kilogram steak at The Oaks Hotel in Neutral Bay. My guest and I were handed navy-and-white trucker hats, adorned with a butcher that looked very much like Don Draper, smiling encouragingly and winking. These would be our prize if we finished The Tomahawk – an immense rib eye, cooked on the bone.
With leather benches, dark wooden tables and plush red carpet, The Oaks has an Australian-pub-meets-American-steakhouse vibe with a blokey sort of charm.
The Tomahawk is sourced from Haverick Meats, this particular cut coming from the Hunter Valley. It can be cooked to order between rare and medium (only), which takes 30–45 minutes and will set you back $85. The steak isn’t on the menu as a glorified eating challenge, however. It there to showcase an excellent cut of meat from a top-quality producer.
As it was carried to the table, heads turned across the room and jealous mutterings were heard from the tables around us. The body of the steak was bigger than a human’s average hand-span and mighty impressive. The Tomahawk is served with green beans and duck-fat potatoes. The meat itself was perfectly cooked, tender and thick. With four sauces plus mustards and toppings, it was a decadent meal. Apparently, everyone who orders it (all of them male) always finishes it. We didn’t, but we got to keep the hat.