What is it about a perfectly cooked slab cut of beef that's so alluring? Perhaps it's the primal response in our psyche that compels us to seek out meat and nothing quite satisfied like beef. Of course, vegetarians will disagree, but a steak can be the ultimate treat for most of us omnivores. I know it sure is for me, as it has become an anniversary tradition for Harumi and me to visit our favourite steakhouse (The Beato) whenever we can.
A while back, I was invited to try Maria's Signature outlet in KLCC but couldn't make it due to unforeseen circumstances. When I was invited once again to try out a new cocktail menu crafted by bartender extraordinaire Amanda Wan to coincide with the launch of their sizzling porterhouse, I made it a point to attend. You see, I've long heard good things about Maria's SteakCafe (in Bangsar) from peers but never once visited it. The allure of finely made cocktails and a hearty slab of beef was just the nudge I needed to make my maiden trip.
For a winning recipe to have a smashing time with your significant other in town, read on to find out what three cocktails you should order to accompany your sizzling steak dinner experience. Lastly, put on a nice get-up and have some fun. You deserve it.
Start your evening light with a classic, Aperol spritz. Amanda introduces elderflower, an olive, and sage into the three-ingredient staple of Aperol, Prosecco (white wine is used instead), and soda water, giving the drink a herbaceous bite. This cocktail fares well as a starter drink to the evening or is suitable as a low-strength cocktail for lightweights to enjoy during the meal. It's an easy win.
Alternatively, forego a classic favouring a modern twist on a classic, which is also one of the restaurant's signature concoctions – violet tonic. This pretty purple drink is made of gin infused with lavender and butterfly pea flowers, elderflower, pandan syrup, lime juice, tonic water, and dried rosebuds. It's light, sweet, and floral, making for an opening drink that's versatile enough to accompany either the delicate nature of raw oysters or even heartier appetisers, the likes of an oxtail soup.
The Main Show
Maria's SteakCafe sizzling porterhouse (RM50 per 100g) was the first steak I ever had at the establishment. It's safe to say that if all the steaks were as satisfying as the porterhouse, then I can understand why the restaurant has found continued success expanding its foothold over time from its humble Ipoh origins.
Part striploin and part tenderloin, Maria's cooks its porterhouse by first grilling and searing this prime slab of meat on high heat until a deep brown crust forms before quickly shifting it over onto a ceramic plate to complete the cooking process in the oven. It's then served sizzling hot, pre-sliced and basted with a mix of melted brown butter and beef tallow, enriching the beef with a bold, sultry flavour.
I highly recommend ordering a side of creamed spinach and mashed potatoes to go with your porterhouse. To wash it all down, you'll need a cocktail with a bit of a kick.
Order the sesame sour, an inventive, nutty twist on the classic whisky sour, for a delightfully sweet and nutty drink to accompany your full-on flavour steak. Made of bourbon, roasted hazelnut toffee syrup, lemon juice, sesame oil, egg whites, and peanut brittle, this is yet another signature drink that takes inspiration from the restaurant's hometown roots. To my surprise, the hazelnut toffee syrup adds a creaminess to the cocktail that rounds out the clever use of sesame oil as both flavour enhancer and aromatic agent. This heavy-bodied beverage was highly gratifying, especially when mixed with the buttery-rich cuts of beef.
For something citrusy to cut through all that beefy richness, there's the pompaloma. Yet another Ipoh-based twist on the paloma cocktail with the use of pomelo, it's made with reposado tequila, pomelo and grapefruit juices, agave syrup, lime juice and pomelo pulp, this refreshing concoction did an admirable job cleansing the palate from time to time.
Sip And Swirl
As someone with hardly a sweet tooth, I'm happy to forego a dessert in favour of a nightcap. And why wouldn't you want to end the night on a high note with one of these wonderful cocktails?
Need a caffeine pick-me-up after that hearty steak? Order the classic espresso martini made with vodka, double espresso, brown sugar syrup, coffee liqueur and coffee beans for a slow sip to end the night. You'll get a little bit of sweetness and bitterness bonded by a clean vodka punch for a memorable liquid dessert.
For something more robust, try the oolong fashioned, a longan-infused bourbon potion made with oolong tea syrup, angostura bitters, and torched longan shell. This boozy delight encourages slow sips, perfect for that after-dinner satisfaction to creep in slowly and long conversations with your significant other. It's a complex drink made for those that revel in the idea of adding a slight oriental fruitiness and tea-based bitterness to an old fashioned.
If those two doesn't rock your boat, forego the idea of an apple pie in favour of the apple treacle, a cocktail made of aged rum, rich brown sugar, clear apple juice and angostura bitters served with a cinnamon sugar rim and a torched apple ring. It ticks all the boxes of an apple pie and adds a rich layer of rum to the mix, resulting in a dessert drink that will satisfy your cravings for a sweet treat at the end of the meal.
All photos are by Maria's SteakCafe