Tag Archives: beef

STK, Westminster

I rarely crave meat, but when I do, only the best will suffice. I was having a ‘carnivore moment’ just as an invite to dinner at American steakhouse STK arrived in my inbox. My foodie fairy godmother was working her magic once again.

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The dinner had a name and that name was RED on RED. Three courses of red meat paired beautifully with glass after glass of glorious Penfolds – one of the best things to come out of Australia, along with Macadamia nuts, Tim Tams and Liam Hemsworth (I’m a bit of a Hunger Games fan).

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We sat in the private dining room, entertained by Head Chef Barry Vera, who enthusiastically introduced us to each dish as they arrived. For him, it was a real treat to experiment ‘off menu’. We also heard from the charming Penfolds Ambassador, who explained why the wine tasted so darn good, especially when savoured with a spoonfuls of the yummy food in front of us.

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The three meat courses were outstandingly good. Steak tartare was topped with a  pretty poached quails egg and caviar. It was drunk with a 2009 Pinot Noir that had notes of dried fruit, adding an extra layer to the delicate meat.

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Next was a gorgeous Japanese Wagyu Ceviche with poached pear puree and large slices of truffle. This was followed by the most substantial of our dishes – USDA sirloin with smoked bone marrow, crispy parsley and caramelised garlic.

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STK is the only place in London to use this cut of prime beef. Take it from me, this steak didn’t need chips, mac ‘n’ cheese or any other steakhouse side to beef it up. It was fantastic on its own.

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Before dessert, a plate of creamy Cornish Yarg, salt bread and cherries were served. It was Vera’s take on a Black Forest Gateaux and one I enjoyed very much (even if my stomach screamed ‘please Sarah, no more!’).

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But I didn’t listen to my stomach and instead ate Head Pastry Chef Sarah Barber’s fabulous Chocolates BFG and ‘Sweet Treats’, whilst sipping sweet Penfolds Grandfather Fortified wine. I was in heaven and nothing was going to take that away from me.

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Now I realise I was getting special treatment that night, so I’ll briefly tell you what STK is like outside the realms of our private room. It’s boisterous, fun and – from what I’ve heard – allows dancing on the tables if the mood takes you there.

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As for the food? Well Vera’s daily menu doesn’t disappoint. Even if you don’t feel like a heavy steak, you can take it from me that the fish dishes are delicious. Scallops were delicately cooked to perfection and Coconut Fried Halibut melted in the mouth.

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The Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese is also worth a try, as are the Wild Mushrooms with Truffle. But I will leave you with this – don’t take anyone hard of hearing. The music is LOUD, which is brilliant for a night out with friends, but inappropriate for dinner with the grandparents.

STK London Steakhouse, ME London, 336-337 The Strand London, WC2R 1HA 

STK London on Urbanspoon

Fette Sau, Brooklyn, NYC

My stomach deserved nothing but the best on its last day in New York. A final treat before all meaty, carby goodness was replaced by a vegan health kick back home.

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Fette Sau came highly recommended by bloggers, NY ‘must eat’ lists and friends. We were told to get there early to avoid the crowds, which suited our timings well as a 9pm flight sat on the horizon.

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One way to describe the interior is an ‘all-American meat canteen’. You queue, you order, you pay, you sit, you eat. Seat wise, you can either enjoy the dark, man-friendly, no-frills interior, or the sunshine filled wooden tables outside.

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For just $20, the meat man gave us enough slow cooked slabs for three people, minus the chicken and sausages (they were irrelevant to us). We also had spongy, buttery brioche buns, BBQ beans and our ‘desperate to be healthy’ cold, not particularly tasty, broccoli (these men know their meat, not their veggies).

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Our ribs were covered in sweet, glazed meat. The brisket fell apart on the fork and the pork belly? Well that just melted in the mouth. Oh yes, it pays to slow cook meat between 12 and 18 hours.

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We didn’t drink (although there were some interesting wines and local brews on offer) and we didn’t order dessert. We just filled ourselves with enough BBQ’d meat to help us refuse revolting plane food at 33,000ft.

Fette Sau 354 Metropolitan Avenue (Havemeyer Street), Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Food 4/5 – Price 5/5 – Staff 4/5 – Atmosphere 4/5

Lyle’s, Shoreditch

When Lyle’s opened a month ago, it offered 50% off the bill to all Tea Building residents. A great idea…until I showed up with ten colleagues one Friday afternoon.

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The staff did well to smile when we arrived twenty minutes late, ruining any chances of seeing the sunshine before evening service. We settled onto a long table in the light, spacious dining room, making it clear we were in for the long haul.

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After a few bottles of fizz and more than our fair share of almost fresh bread (it’s not made on site, but will be soon), we ordered two of every sharing dish, ignoring the random fish and meat main, which seemed out of place on the menu.

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As plates arrived in swathes around me, I quickly identified my favourites. Semi-soft Gull’s Eggs (£6) were sitting pretty on whole shells, sprinkled with seaweed salt that really enhanced the flavour, whereas Asparagus (£8.50) was lightly grilled before being dipped in a nutty walnut mayonnaise.

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We ordered extras of these, as well as beautifully presented Raw Highland Beef covered in shavings of Cured Sea Urchin (£9), and Lamb’s Sweetbreads (£8.50), which I found slimy, but my colleagues raved about.

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The Hispi Cabbage with Mussels & Seaweed (£7) and thick, cheesy Cauliflower, Riseley & Lovage (£5.90) were also tasty, but we didn’t get on with the Mutton Broth & Turnips (£6.30), overly rich Blood Cake with Chicory (£6.50) or the two uninspiring salads.

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The smaller plates were…erm…small, so despite ordering extras, we had plenty of room for pudding. Plates of cheese – Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire & St James (£8.50) – went down a treat, especially when gobbled up with a piece of honeycomb or fruity chutney. Our non-cheese-eater J went for Treacle Tart & Milk Ice Cream (£5.90), which finished the meal on a high point.

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Lyle’s is a lovely looking restaurant that couldn’t be more convenient for us Tea Builders. Its friendly staff easily managed our rowdiness (who wouldn’t be excited on a Friday?!), but a few dishes felt insubstantial, so perhaps the waiters should push the mains a little more.

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That said, it’s not a bad local to have and the discount was particularly generous, so I’m giving Lyle’s a LLE Rating of 6.5/10.

Lyle’s, Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ

Lyle's on Urbanspoon

The House of Ho, Soho

When I booked The House of Ho for my birthday, I got some worrying looks. ‘I know you’re newly single S, but is this really the route to happiness?’. Turns out it was, so despite their concerns, my friends dutifully followed me to dark, debaucherous Soho.

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If this was the 70s, my post would be very different, more exciting and – let’s face it – confined to a diary as the wondrous internet was still a figment of TimBL’s imagination . But as it’s 2014, I will focus on what The House of Ho really is – a relatively new Vietnamese restaurant full of lively Londoners of all ages, gender and sexual orientation.

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We kicked off dinner with a bottle of Prosecco and a few dishes from the ‘Light & Raw’ section of the menu. Crab Pomelo Salad (£7) was, fittingly, ‘light’, refreshing and full of texture, and Duck Pho Cuon Rice Noodle Rolls (£5.50) were a lot like cold Dim Sum…in a good way.

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The biggest ‘Light & Raw’ treat was Spicy Salmon Tartare (£7), which was topped with a raw quail’s egg yolk and encircled by chopped pistachio, Shiso (an Asian herb) and Jicama (a type of yam). Our waiter stopped us eating until we’d mixed all ingredients together into one, mushy lump. Turns out that lump was pretty damn good, especially when scooped with a cracker or two.

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Of the ‘Hot & Grilled’, the BBQ Baby Back Ribs (£6) felt too heavy next to the other, more delicate dishes, whereas bland Smokey Aubergine (£6) could have used some spicing up.

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‘Ho’s Dishes’ were much better – The ‘Shaking Beef’ was wonderfully succulent (£14) and Lemongrass Monkfish balanced sweet, sour and meaty fishiness, despite being a little chewy.

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I think we picked the best side (thank you Mr Waiter) as Morning Glory (Water Spinach at £4) was just as satisfying as its meatier counterparts, making us vow to replicate the dish at home.

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My friends’ mischievous faces gave pudding away – Molten Maru Chocolate (£6.50) with ice cream, a candle, Happy Birthday written in sauce and a rousing chorus of singers. It was eaten with relish, just as Birthday cake should be.

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The House of Ho combined interesting, delicate food with good prices and a fun, buzzing atmosphere, making it a perfect birthday treat and a worthy recipient of a LLE Rating of 7 / 10. 

House of Ho, 55-59 Old Compton Street, Soho, London W1D 6HW 

The House of Ho on Urbanspoon

Paramount, Soho

Paramount has had a hard time of late. First Duck & Waffle opened in the Heron Tower, stealing its crown as London’s highest restaurant. Then, The Shard poked its pointy nose in with Oblix – the new dinner destination for hungry tourists. Oh dear Paramount, what’s a 149-meter restaurant to do?

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Luckily for Paramount, it can rest assured that it still has an incredible view of the Capital, serves tastier food than the poorly reviewed Oblix and – unlike its towering rivals – can usually be booked at a moments notice. Read more…

Paramount, Centre Point, 101-103 New Oxford Street, WC1A 1DD

MASH, Soho

I felt sorry for MASH. I went three days after my magnificent meal at CUT, so it didn’t stand a chance in the Battle of the Steaks.

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To make it fair, I’ve deliberately left enough time between both meals before writing my ‘non-biased’ review. Gone are my memories of CUT with its glorious bread, glistening meat and gorgeous puddings. My focus is now – entirely – on MASH.

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We were there for its 1st birthday, partly to celebrate, partly to enjoy 50% off its huge list of steaks. The smiley, handsome waiter sat us in a leather booth at one end of the dramatic, chandeliered basement and quickly persuaded us to order a rather expensive bottle of red. Damn him and his good looks!

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We skipped starters and went straight to mains. The Uruguayan 300g Ribeye caught my eye (£29 full price), served with sides of fries, mushrooms and indulgent Mac ‘n’ Cheese (£4.50 each).

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We shared accompaniments and sauces – Bearnaise, Pepper and Red Wine (all at £2.50). I shouldn’t really say this, but the sauces were almost double the price of those at CUT. My first and last comparison, I promise.

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The steak itself was full flavoured, juicy and cooked as requested. It was also gristly, so not completely wonderful. The sides were fine and I did enjoy the macaroni, but could only manage a small spoonful.

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We were too full for dessert (rare for me), so paid the bill, lifted our weary bodies and made our way home.

MASH gets a LLE Rating of 6/10. The food was decent, but if it wasn’t for the 50% deal on steaks, I’d have felt ripped off. I’d rather go back to CUT. There, I said it.

MASH, 77 Brewer Street, London W1F 9ZN

MASH on Urbanspoon

Andina, Shoreditch

The word Andina is typically used to describe a ‘woman in the Andes’, so perhaps Martin Morales intended his second ‘Peru in London’ restaurant for ‘ladies who lunch’ in Shoreditch. Or perhaps he didn’t give it that much thought.

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We (four ladies, one man) went to Andina on a beautiful December day. The restaurant’s long windows, white washed walls and light furniture meant we could bask in the sunshine, despite being indoors. It’s lucky we weren’t seated in the back room or – at worst – downstairs. Not that it would have mattered during the great storms of 2013.

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Just like Ceviche in Soho, the menu is filled with smaller ‘sharing’ plates and plenty of ceviche. Unlike its sister restaurant, it also boasts a number of larger main course dishes for those who secretly don’t like to share (i.e. me).

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We started with a number of dishes from the Street Food and Ceviches sections of the menu. The slightly dry Quinoa Croquettas (£4) weren’t a patch on the enormous Pig Butty (£6), which we greedily ended up getting two of.

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Inside the soft, white buns was a mountain of tender confit pork with sweet potato ketchup and salsa criolla. We even had little pots of pork on the side, just in case we didn’t have enough fatty, oh so tasty, meat.

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Of the ceviches, we had Sato (£7.5), Siwichi (£8) and Cheeky (£8.50), also known as trout, seabass, hake & cods cheek. A complete contrast to the heartier street food, it didn’t have the wow factor I’d experienced at Ceviche. Some seemed over limed and the fish wasn’t as delicately cut as I’d have liked.

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I chose Skewered Lamb Kebabs for main, which came with giant Peruvian Corn and salad. I enjoyed the tenderness of the meat and overall lightness of the meal, but couldn’t help adding a few dollops of delicious lucuma puree for extra pizazz (thanks to the plate of Lomo next to me (£20)).

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Lucuma is a native Peruvian fruit that makes the most wonderfully sweet, creamy sauce. Take my word for it, it’s a wonderful alternative to mayo or ketchup if you can get it.

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Desserts were shared and in plentiful supply. First we had a tray of Picarones (£9) – Pumpkin Doughnuts that were as light as air and even more delicious when dunked in purple corn syrup or chocolate fudge.

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The Quinoa Chocolate Brownie (£5) wasn’t my favourite. The quinoa had dried yet another dish, destroying any chance of a gooey middle and crisp, chewy top.

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Instead, the Mousse De Lucuma took me by surprise (£5). The yummy lucuma fruit had worked its magic once again, producing a sweet, creamy dessert that couldn’t have been more delicious.

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Andina was a mixed bag. Some dishes were a delight, others didn’t live up to the reputation of Ceviche. Then again, the atmosphere, price and ridiculously close location to my office is bound to draw me back. So for now, I’m giving it a LLE Rating of 6 / 10.

Andina, 1 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London E2 7DJ

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