Tag Archives: steak

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 

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Hixter, Shoreditch

As Mark Hix continues his London takeover, so opens Hixter opposite Liverpool Street station. It’s very similar to Tramshed, specialising in chicken and steak, but minus the formaldehyde cow with a cockerel on its head. I guess they’re hard to come by…

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The restaurant’s also a lot smaller, but the long mirror at one end makes it feel more spacious. There’s bright, modern art on the walls and red leather seats perfect for local ‘city’ boys looking to fill their bellies before heading downstairs to London’s second Mark’s Bar.

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We shared all of food, starting with Yorkshire Pudding & Whipped Chicken Livers (£3.95), De Beauvoir Smoked Salmon with Pickled Cucumber (£5.25) and Cock ‘n’ Bull Croquettes with Wild Chervil Mayonnaise (£4.95).

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Each was perfectly tasty, but it was the Yorkshire Pudding – or rather the Whipped Chicken Livers – that stood out for me. The chicken livers had a sweet, wholesome flavour that was carried by the crisp, bouncy pudding. A triumph.

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Next up it was a Herb Roasted Chateaubriand (£75) and half a Barn-Reared Indian Rock Chicken (£25). We asked for a whole bird, but the waiter looked at our enthusiastic faces and suggested half. Thank god for that.

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The steak was cooked rare and our knives slid through it like butter. The chicken was juicy and succulent, but not as impressive as what I’d had at Tramshed. I disliked the half hearted stuffing, which was dry, flaky and resembled a heap of moss.

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We didn’t need sides, but ordered them anyway – it was Christmas after all. The Grilled Field Mushrooms (all £4.25 for small, £6.95 for large) were deliciously garlicky and definitely what I’d recommend. The chips were chips – yummy, but not spectacular.

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The Credit Crunch Ice Cream with Hot Chocolate Sauce (£1.90 per scoop) was a delicious, but unnecessary dessert – we’d consumed rather a lot by this stage. Another time I might have one less starter and indulge in the Salted Caramel Fondue.

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Hixter doesn’t have the wow factor of Tramshed, or the variety of Hix Soho, but it’s still an enjoyable joint that I’d be happy to go back to. It’s also very well priced, so for all that, I’m giving Mark a pat on the back and Hixter a LLE Rating of 6/10. 

Hixter, 9a Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4AE

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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

MEWS of Mayfair

Lancashire Court is one of central London’s best-kept secrets. Made up of narrow walkways, bustling restaurants and plenty of outside seating, it feels miles away from nearby Regent Street, New Bond Street and the hell that is Oxford Street.

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One of the courtyard’s restaurants is Mews of Mayfair, founded by London entrepreneur James Robson back in 2006. Split across four floors, the 18th Century building combines a lounge, cocktail bar, brasserie and the chef’s dining room. And it’s in the brasserie, where we lay our scene. Read more…

MEWS of Mayfair, 10 Lancashire Court, New Bond Street, London W1S 1EY

CUT at 45 Park Lane, Mayfair

Wolfgang Puck is the celebrity chef. He has 18 restaurant chains across the world, has written seven cook books, sells his own range of cookware, appliances and gourmet food, and caters for weddings of the rich and famous. Oh, and then there’s the app, website and social media channels. What a busy motherpucker.

45 Park Lane Entrance

CUT at 45 Park Lane is the start of his London empire. The luxurious steak restaurant smells of money, from the mahogany and leather furniture, to the clientele (I’m pretty sure there was a James Bond villain sat next to us). It also serves bloody brilliant food, even though that comes with a hefty price tag.

Wolfgang Puck and David McIntyre, Executive Chef- CUT at 45 Park Lane

A friend told us not to bother with starters. ‘We’d be too full’, she said. So, we moved straight onto mains, enjoying complimentary cheese puffs and beautiful bread along the way.

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So beautiful, I’ve decided to spend a paragraph talking about it. There were four  types, but the pretzel knot stood out. Sprinkled in salt, it pulled apart like mozzarella and had a flavour that would make Paul Hollywood question his career.

Meat Presentation - CUT at 45 Park Lane (7039)

Before choosing our CUT, the waiter talked us through the options, using his handy prop – a giant plate of raw beef. We nearly went for Wagyu, but couldn’t justify the £84 price tag. So, decided on two cuts of USDA Prime Black Angus Beef, aged 35 days.

CUT at 45 Park Lane

Mine was a medium rare 6oz Petit Cut Filet Mignon (£34) and The Boyfriend went for a rare 10oz New York Sirloin (£38). Both steaks lived up to expectation – they were precisely cooked and had the consistency of butter.

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For sides, we ordered the signature Creamed Spinach with Fried Organic Egg, Rapini (a type of broccoli) with Chilli & ‘Fiore de Sardo’ (an Italian sheep’s milk cheese), and an impressive stack of French Fries (all £7). The creamed spinach was particularly moreish, but a richer accompaniment than we needed.

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Sauce wise, we went for Argentinian Chimichurri, Shallot Red Wine Bordelaise and Béarnaise. At £1 each, they were the most reasonably priced items on the menu, but we were a little annoyed to find béarnaise served with the fries – something they could have pointed out.

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We (I) homed in on the Warm Dark Chocolate Valrhona Soufflé for dessert (£11) – an excellent choice as it turned out. More than enough for two, the waiter poured whipped creme fraiche over the ginormous soufflé, before making a hole in the middle for a neat scoop of Toasted Hazelnut Gianduja Ice Cream and covering the lot in chocolate sauce. It was a beauty to behold.

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As it was The Boyfriend’s birthday, a candlelit Baked Alaska made its way to our table. The white chocolate buttermilk cake with strawberry sauce was a yummy touch by CUT and one that went down very well. Much better than the Petit Four, which we didn’t need, but ate to soften the blow of the bill.

Other than the price, I can’t find fault with CUT, so give it a very respectable and well deserved LLE Rating of 9/10. Time to start saving for my next visit.

CUT at 45 Park Lane, London W1K 1PN

*First exterior shot ‘borrowed’ from the telegraph.co.uk 

CUT at 45 Park Lane on Urbanspoon

Bistrotheque, Bethnal Green

Everyone’s talking about Hoi Polloi (as in the restaurant, not ‘the people’). So, I’m going to give some attention to its older, edgier sister Bistrotheque.

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Bistrotheque ticks the ‘edgy’ box by living in a warehouse down a dark, deserted road in Bethnal Green that would make a perfect setting for The Killing. The inside couldn’t be more different. Warm, lively and inviting, the large dining room is made up of an open kitchen, central bar and hungry hipsters laughing the night away.

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We started with two Aperol Spritz at £7 each – I know, so last summer – and an indulgent bowl of Scotched Quails Eggs from the ‘snacks’ section of the menu (also £7).

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I find it hard to resist scotch eggs, so the thought of a runny quail’s egg encased in a layer of crispy pork proved too much to bare, despite The Boyfriend’s warnings of the courses to come.

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Starters of Steak Tartare (£8) and Grilled Spring Onions with Romesco & Parmesan (£7) were the highlights of our meal. The tartare was sublime and the spring onions were more than any veggie could wish for, reminding me of what I’d experienced at Grain Store a couple of weeks before.

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As for the mains, my Whole Black Bream with green sauce (£17.50) was tasty, but not memorable, and The Boyfriend’s Onglet with girolles, shallot and a red wine sauce (£16.50) hit similar notes from across the table.

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Our sides were solid. The chips (£4) were thick, crisp and devoured in about five minutes and the Romanesco Cauliflower Cheese (£5.50) was a great idea, but seemed a little watery.

Bistrotheque gets a LLE Rating of 7 / 10. It scored marks for service, cocktails and overall vibe, but lost a few when it came to the food. It was perfectly enjoyable, but some dishes didn’t blow us away. Perhaps Hoi Polloi is getting all of Pablo and David’s attention, as well as that of the press?

Bistroteque, 23–27 Wadeson Street, London E2 9DR

Bistrotheque on Urbanspoon

Gogi Korean Bar & Grill, Little Venice

When I looked at Gogi’s 77 dish menu, two questions entered my head – ‘how can one chef perfect so many dishes?’ and ‘how the hell am I going to choose?!’.  Our waiter eliminated the second dilemma by picking for us. As for the first, the answer had to be ‘they can’t’. But that’s not to say some weren’t very, very good.

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Gogi is a relatively new Korean restaurant in Little Venice, already popular with the locals (there were at least three families enjoying dinner when we arrived at 7pm). Despite its large windows, the interior is dark, made up of black wooden furniture, exposed brick walls and individual BBQ’s that would later cook the best food of the night.

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We sipped two insanely sweet cocktails whilst peering over the menu of soups & sides, starters, grilled BBQ, BBQ sides, Dolsot Bibimbap, pot dishes and noodles, before moving onto a far nicer bottle of white.

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We then had ‘side dishes’ of Modum Kimchi (£5.90) and Modum Namul (£5.90). Kimchi is like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it. I rest in the latter camp, so much preferred Modum Namul’s less fermented pickled spinach, radish, courgette and mushroom.

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Moving onto the actual starters, grilled asparagus with sesame seeds (£5.50) was crisp and fresh, whereas a heavier portion of Pa Jeon (£8.90) was a pancake stuffed with prawns, spring onions and what looked like seafood sticks. Yummy, but let down by less than luxurious ingredients.

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Up next was Roseu Pyeonchae (£16.90) and Yang Yeum Chicken (£8.50). The lightly battered chicken was covered in a sweet, sticky sauce that was pleasant, but rid the batter of its crispiness.

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By contrast, the beautifully presented Roseu Pyeonchae was thin slices of roast beef sirloin, playfully used to scoop shredded onion, pepper and lettuce into a parcel topped with mustard sauce. Hands down, this was my starter of choice.

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The best was definitely saved ’til last. In the centre of our table, a waitress heated our individual BBQ before cooking strips of Bulgogi (£8.90), Pork Belly (£8.90) and Ganjang Chicken (also £8.90). Each piece of sizzling meat was tender, juicy and enhanced by its own delicious marinade. Having the meat cooked at the table was certainly novel and something children are sure to enjoy.

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Gogi was a mixed bag of perfectly adequate food and memorable gems. Now I’m no expert, but having experienced this friendly restaurant, I wonder if the menu should be stripped back to concentrate on dishes that leave a lasting impression, such as the BBQ’d meat and Roseu Pyeonchae. But as I said, I’ll leave that to those ‘in the know’ and give Gogi a LLE Rating of 6.5 / 10. 

Gogi, 451 Edgware Road, Little Venice, London W2 1TH