Found in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, with waterfront views looking back to the sails of the Sydney Opera House, is refined steakhouse 6HEAD. Located in Circular Quay, The restaurant is known for serving some of this country's finest beef products. But for those in the know, there's also a secret, off-menu dry-ageing program that rotates rare cuts. To access it, you need to ask. Here, 6HEAD's executive chef, Sean Hall explains what you need to know.
Ensuring your meat is a cut above
Dining at 6HEAD is an experience that champions Australia. There’s the iconic harbourside location, a list of wines from around the country, including famed regions like the Margaret River, Barossa Valley and Hunter Valley, and some of Australia’s best beef. “I go out to all the cattle farms myself and meet with the purveyors, check out the conditions and get a sense for the kind of product they produce,” says Hall. “I’ve really got the easy job – I just have to cook them on the grill – it’s the farmers who do all the work.”
The restaurant hand-picks its steaks from some of Australia’s finest providores, such as Collinson & Co, Mayura Station – found in South Australia – alongside Tender Valley and Macka’s Black Angus Beef from NSW. On the menu you can expect to find a grain-fed fillet and New York cut alongside a grass-fed Collinson & Co MB3+ fillet, 1.5kg tomahawk and grain-fed Wagyu bone-in rib eye. Not sure what to pick? “Grass fed has a softer flavour on the palate,” says Hall. “The meat has a little bit more texture and it’s not as fatty.” This is in contrast to the grain-fed cattle, which results in a fattier muscle tissue. “With grain fed, it’s a richer, more umami flavour and the meat is more tender.”
To the uninitiated, Wagyu is a collective name for the four principal Japanese breeds of beef with a higher-in-fat content that is marbled through the meat, resulting in a stronger flavour. “Wagyu has a nuttier, richer flavour than your typical grain-fed Black Angus beef and ends up having a creamier, fattier texture in the mouth.”
At 6HEAD, the menu features a Wagyu rib eye that has been grain fed for 200 days and features a MB6+ marble rating alongside a platinum eye of rump, signature tomahawk and platinum T-bone that weighs in at 1kg, with a marble score of MB7-9+, all from Mayura Station in South Australia.
Accessing the secret menu
6HEAD’s off-menu in-house dry-ageing program is overseen by Hall. To access it, you have to ask what's on offer as the range of cuts depends on what is hanging in the ageing fridge. “The idea behind dry-ageing steaks is that we push the product to become so tender that you can cut it with a spoon and avoid spoiling the flavour by making it overly intense or rich.”
Here, the restaurant’s finest cuts are placed into an airtight ageing fridge that is temperature and humidity controlled. In these conditions, enzymes begin to break down the muscle tissue, resulting in a more tender and flavourful steak on your plate.
“We only dry-age steaks that have a bone in, including T-bone and tomahawks that are grass fed from Collinson & Co as well as tomahawks that rotate between Wagyu cuts from Mayura Station and Macka’s Black Angus beef.”
It’s a feature that will be added to the group’s soon-to-be-opened Perth restaurant – found in Chevron Tower at Elizabeth Quay. Here, Hall will be overseeing a similar program that will highlight more local purveyors to the west coast. “We’ve got a few farms that we’re looking at closer to the restaurant – there’s one in the Margaret River and that restaurant will offer a similar program and run dry-aged steaks just like Sydney does. It’ll be an exciting addition to the group.”