Finger-licking rib-eye tops meaty taste hit parade

EVEN if you are someone who eats out a lot, it’s not all that often that you will have a dining experience that ticks all the boxes.

I had one such night out earlier this month while scouting out Sticky Fingers, a newish spot in Port Elizabeth’s Stanley Street that seems to have become a locus for meat lovers.

I’ll have you know that, at the end of a most enjoyable night, my only letdown (and a terrific one at that) was forgetting my doggie-bag at the restaurant.

Now I would not normally ask for lefties but the rib-eye steak prepared by Grant Houzet, formerly of Bain Street Grill fame, was so sumptuously succulent that sending even a scrap of it to a restaurant bin would have been sacrilege.

There must be plenty of places in Richmond Hill that serve steak, but I defy you to find a better rib-eye than the one that landed on my plate that night.

South Africans can be so boringly rigid about their relish for rump, but rib-eye (also known as Scotch fillet) is my favourite cut, not least because I love the way the blob of fat near its centre seems to melt deliciously into the marbled meat. I usually buy my rib-eye from the 2 Fat Butchers in Walmer, and this was the first time I’d seen it on a menu in ages.

Mine, as with all the mains on offer, was served with wok-fried veggies, al dente and dazzling in colour, and freshly-cut chips. And, at R98, this prime piece of beef, grass-fed and brought in from Botswana, was surely also cheaper than most steaks on offer in Stanley.

What sets Sticky Fingers’ meaty mains apart is that it’s all cooked on a proper wood fire. The combination of high heat and smoky aroma invariably succeeds in transforming a good steak into a great one.

My husband, Savelio, also had a red meat rendezvous by ordering the lamb chops (R98 for three) which were a thicker cut than usual and weighed a whopping 130g each. They were perfectly medium rare and quite different in taste to the Karoo lamb we’re more accustomed to, which Grant explained was because of the distinct vegetation in the Bedford area where he sources most of his lamb.

The small menu is mainly red meat-based, with one fish and one fowl option in the form of pan-fried kingklip (R94) and chicken kebabs (R74).

Another refreshing concept is the complete absence of a wine list. Instead there’s a well-stocked rack where you choose your varietal according to price – all cleverly colour-coded to make it easy (and fun!). And the mark-up won’t make you splutter – we paid R95 for a bottle of elegant Pierre Jourdan Tranquille.

I’ve raved about the mains but our starter, a mezze platter with nibbles like olives and pesto (R64), was equally pleasing and more than enough for two to share. There were only three dessert options but our choices of sticky date pudding and Amarula chocolate fantasy (both R26) more than satisfied.

Service, too, was spot on. Grant’s fiancee, Edelweiss Janse van Rensburg, waited on us and we found her friendly, informative and every bit as charming in nature as in name.

Sticky Fingers is at 3 Stanley Street, Richmond Hill. Bookings are on (041)582-2417. This review visit was unannounced and the meal paid for in full.

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