Vlado’s is an institution in Melbourne that is synonymous with good steaks. The place has been serving high quality steaks for the past 56 years (and counting). And the menu has not changed as well.
Vlado Gregurek set up his steakhouse in Bridge Road in 1964, leasing for many years until buying the building in the ’90s. Over the years, Vlado’s won a reputation for serving steaks that were unsurpassed in Australia, grilled on a hot plate with just a smear of fat.
The food is simple. It’s a set menu, with no a la carte options to confuse things. You put yourself in the chef’s hands, as you would if you were in a tiny bistro in a European country whose language you don’t speak.
Start with a simple salad of vinaigrette-dressed coleslaw, lettuce and tomato, followed by housemade pork-and-beef sausage, made to Vlado’s mother Emiljia’s recipe. The Eastern European-style sausage is not shy with salt, with a little peppercorn heat and a casing that has a beautiful snap to it.
Next, a mixed meat platter of calves’ liver (on certain occasions, not this time), pork neck and small burgers, perfectly kissed by the charcoal grill designed by Vlado himself. The exact composition changes, but the smokiness and heft don’t.
Everything is building to the main event: steak.
First you have to choose your meat from a display of ruby-red beef: choose your cut (eye fillet, porterhouse or rump) and how you like it done. There’s also an upgrade available that is popular in recent years – the choice of Australia Wagyu beef, and the price depends on the marbling score of the meat that night.
The beef is Australian, grass- or grain-fed, killed humanely and aged in a coolroom onsite for optimum flavour. The steak comes cross-hatched with grill marks, perfectly medium-rare with a beautiful crust on the outside.
There are no sauces, marinades or other distractions – housemade mustard and horseradish are the only accompaniments.
Eye fillet is an oblong shaped cut that spans between the short loin and the sirloin. Perfectly done as always.
Dessert is a serve of strawberry pancakes, which is also Emiljia’s recipe. The whisper-thin crêpes encase four or five good-sized berries, served with classic vanilla ice cream and vibrant almost neon-red strawberry sauce.
Single Family Owned Since 1964
Vlado and wife Nina were from communist Yugoslavia and escaped from their hometown of Croatia during the surge of post-war immigration to Australia. While like many of his generation he brought with him old world values and idiosyncrasies that built the character of this place. For instance, he never once during his last 50 years placed a commercial advertisement for the restaurant – we all know about this place by word of mouth of others. He succumbed to lung cancer in 2012.
Now the son Michael has taken over, but nothing has changed since 1964. It’s not fine dining, and neither does it try to be. It serves steaks straight up, no fuss, just let a good piece of meat does it own thing.
It’s not easy to eat at a foreign place until you become a regular. I have been coming back here for my steak fix every time I am in Melbourne since 2014. In 2024 they will celebrate “60 years and the same”, of which Doug Petrovic would have spent more than half of that time serving in the front of the restaurant.
Victoria is currently in lockdown because of Covid-19, so please check whether they are opened before going. Hopefully I can go back before they turn 60. I pray that I will get to go back in next year for their unforgettable steaks.
Vlado’s Charcoal Grill Steakhouse Restaurant
61 Bridge Road Richmond
Melbourne VIC 3121
AustraliaTel : +61 3 9428 5833 OR +61 3 9428 2189
Date Visited : Dec 2018