As we come together this week to celebrate Australia Day there are two reasons to…
The Meat and Wine Co. has opened after a much-awaited and statement fit-out on the corner of London Circuit and Constitution Avenue in the city.
The restaurant is the brainchild of South African-born hospitality guru Bradley Michael, who has spent years eyeing off the Canberra market to establish his brand. And the news is that The Meat and Wine Co. is only the beginning, with another series of restaurants (Italian, Middle Eastern and burgers) on their way. But more about that in a bit.
A former teenaged Army conscript in Johannesburg, Michael kick-started his career by first running a hospital canteen after his compulsory service.
After two years of hard work and experience, he decided to buy into a burger franchise and spent another five years studying the franchise game.
Then he picked up a run-down old steakhouse Black Steer and set his sights on turning it into something big.
“It was poorly run, but had great goodwill and a good following,” he said. Bradley restructured it and took it from one restaurant to 156 across the globe within three years.
He also bought the rights to Planet Hollywood, which he opened in Capetown. Yet tragedy struck when the restaurant was the target of a terrorist bombing in 1998—which killed two people and injured many more.
It had a profound effect on Bradley who resigned from the business and took a long break. He no longer wanted to raise his young family in South Africa and began searching for a new country to call home.
Australia won out over London and Los Angeles because, in Bradley’s words “it was perfect for me in that it had the same climate as South Africa, had the same sports and everyone eats meat!”
The first Meat and Wine Co. opened in Darling Harbour in 2003, has a second restaurant at Barangaroo and it has grown to become a stable of 10 across the country.
While Bradley owns 58 international restaurants, he takes a personal hand in the roll-out and running of each Meat and Wine Co. which showcases his South African heritage with a trademark Boma enclosure in the centre of each restaurant. It also focuses on paddock-to-plate dining and a specialised dry-aged meat program.
The exclusive Monte ribeye is aged on the bone for six weeks in flavoured butter to give an exceptional level of flavour and tenderness. There’s also South African beef sausages Boerewors for a traditional meal, while pescatarians can try the salmon skewers which get rave reviews across social media.
Meanwhile, Bradley has revealed that Canberra’s vibrant dining scene will receive an injection from his other restaurant franchises—the Italian Street Kitchen, the Middle-Eastern-style Alma’s Kitchen and Five Guys Burgers.
“It is just a matter of finding the right locations in Canberra,” he said.
It has not always been smooth sailing for Bradley in the national capital. He originally planned to open a Meat and Wine Co. at the Kingston Foreshore almost five years ago. But the sight he settled on did not allow for the required extraction processes the restaurant needed, and he had to put the plans on ice. Until now.
Bradley feels the inner-city location fronting the $300 million Terry Snow redevelopment—which also houses the new headquarters for law firm Minter Ellison, top-tier consulting firm KPMG, and a new premium brand hotel, A by Adina—is actually a far better business proposition.
“Hopefully our diners find it is worth the wait!”
The Meat and Wine Co. opens Wednesday 21 April
Where: 1 Constitution Avenue, Civic
Open: Wednesday to Sunday 12pm-10pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday.