Geelong has an uber hip cultural spot in and around Little Malop, Ryrie and James Streets, and among it are some happening dining spots. As a major regional centre and an ever expanding population out of capital cities like Melbourne, it was way past time this happened. Geelong has an evolving food and cultural scene, and there is some really cool food happening and exciting venues popping up in this corner of the city. It has become the foodies hub for sure.
So it's really disappointing when a business touts itself as Geelong's Premium Steakhouse. Steaks are great, don't get me wrong, but everything else is in need of serious attention. Any restaurant who tags themselves as premium, needs to be sure everything is premium. It is a big call to live up to. A dessert menu of sticky date pudding, cookies and cream cheesecake and creme brulee is far from premium. I can find those in any outer suburban bowling club or function centre. Yes, I know you are a steakhouse but lift the game already.
The service here also needs some serious attention. If you are premium, so must your service, your decor, your attention to detail match it, especially when you are charging up to $200 a steak. Likewise, when your wine list in 75% available at Dan Murphy's, we know the mark ups you are adding. The wine list is dominated by one particular wine group, and a $14 easy purchase of an American produced Fat Bastard wine from a retail outlets does not belong on the wine list at close to $50 - not in a premium venue, and to be fair, not on a list in a premium venue.
Now to the food. Looking through the menu, I was surprised by some of the entree choices. Scallops from Queensland's Hervey Bay when you are a pebble skip to the southern ocean... not well thought out. I get you want to do seafood. I get you want scallops, but there are plenty of them along Victoria's south coast, where the restaurant is. There are so many other closer options like Gippsland (where some of the beef is from), which would be better, or bolder choices at least. We ate a Drysdale haloumi and beetroot salad and a Cape Grim beef tartare. Both were fine without much wow to be had.
Thankfully, the main section of the menu has embraced some local suppliers for chicken and other proteins, and some of the beef is Victorian, alongside Tasmanian and South Australian producers. There is disconnect from what consumers are demanding, to what is being offered on this menu - and I keep returning to the self appointed Premium tag. We ordered steaks and sides, one of the steaks not quite cooked right - a medium rare was at best just rare - and the other fine. A blue cheese sauce ordered on the side was fine, the rest again were at club level rather than premium restaurant. There is a dry age room and while in a normal time offers choices from there, it was unavailable at the time of dining.
Service is mostly haphazard at best, and shoddy at worst. There seemed to be a complete lack of direction, and again, far from premium. Questions about beef marbling and wagyu scores went unanswered, or "I'll check with the chef" and we are still waiting. In such a tough climate, we know getting staff is tough, but venues must invest in training to bring the team up to speed if they are to survive. This kind of service at $200pp for our visit is inexcusable.
Address the wine list (Surf Coast, Bellarine, Geelong and Otway regions are at the doorstep) with some small batch, on premise only or at least some locally made wine, up the game on the menu and focus on what you do best, and fix service levels. Missing here is finesse - in presentation, in service and in the quality of all the other parts of the dining experience. A good steak does not a good restaurant make - every part of the event needs to be at least adequate, if not premium, at these prices. Sadly, this is not.
Emerge Geelong is at 112 Ryrie Street, Geelong.
Open 7 days lunch and dinner, Bookings essential.