When any new restaurant opens, the first couple of months can prove either devisive or decisive in terms of how the reaction will be. Thanks to a pretty intense , and I guess successful PR campaign, the first thing I knew about Steak (part of the No. 12/14 Picardy Place development) was that I really disliked their marketing images. An anaemic looking model plays seductively in an abbatoir, indescriminately licking bits of raw meat . It’s evident from her frame that she’s very hungry.
My second impression was gleaned from the launch event back in February. Late for their own opening party (admittedly, anyone who works in hospitality has been there), this was combined with a very confused drinks service. Pre-mixed G&Ts for all, prosecco for the few, Perrier-Jouët for the even fewer, and a cash bar for the rest. Tragically and worst of all, was that there was only the merest suggestion of actual food. The interior was stunning, an amazing transformation of the high-ceilinged space formerly known as a million things including a casino, Club Ego, The Green Room. Now a large room wearing fairly stern colours of grey and slate, the space was cleverly sub-divided with overhead structuring and floor-level bookshelves which created different sections including an inviting central dining table. The design-worship would have to wait though, as hunger pangs kicked in. We bolted out the door for a magnificent burger over the road at The Basement.
I spotted the very keenly priced pre-theatre menu offering 3courses for £20, this was a good time to try out what Steak was really all about. My dining companion, Sandy of West and I had a lot of catching up to do (each with exciting tales of new opportunities and jobs ) and given that we likes a good steak, this seemed like a good place for the rendezvous.
Right away, I was impressed by the service. The server (Sophia) was extremely knowledgeable about the available cuts of meat and the wine list too. Ordering la carte would perhaps take a little getting used to here, for the steaks anyway. Three different breeds are offered, various different cuts and all priced per 100g. It would seem relatively easy to spend £30 on a steak before any side dishes, which is way out of my budget.
Thankfully the pre-theatre kept things pretty simple. I decided to start with the pork cheek and shallot terrine. On the plate a few artistic dots of parsley mayo, and thin slivers of crispy sourdough toast. Despite the myriad candles, lighting was woefully dim in our little corner but what I could see was elegantly presented. The pressed terrine had a nice sweetness to it, and a generous tranche allowed for a good number of mouthfuls.
Sandy’s oxtail soup with puff pastry lid was proper meals on wheels stuff, thick, and unctuously rich. High praise, and I know a certain Silver Fox who would have enthusiastically rolled his spoon around this dish ’til empty, and possibly have asked for seconds.
Main courses were where we met the steaks at Steak. We perhaps over-complicated the order for our 200g sirloin steaks. I asked for medium rare, sandy asked for medium to well. I ended up with medium, and Sandy was served well done. Nevertheless, this was juicy steak, the ‘authentic’ grill criss-crosses letting us know how they’d been cooked. On the side, a dinky little pan with a suitably thick Bearnaise sauce. Accompanying French Fries were average, but in all, a good meal. Side dishes, priced £3 each, added some colour we think! Buttered spinach with hazelnuts was superb, the pickled baby carrots with star anise were verging on the uncooked, but I’d much rather than than soggy ones. Nice little touches such as kiln jars with side sauces including home-made ketchup, and a selection of mustards let us know the kitchen are aiming high.
Dessert for me was distinctly average, fruit crumble with ripple ice cream. The crumble was in a mini Le Crueset style cast iron pot and I enjoyed the nuts through the crumble topping but the fruit (apples? it really was that dark!) were a bit too firm, not quite sweet enough, and the crumble topping a little dusty. The ice cream was ok. Sandy, on the other hand, really enjoyed her millionaire’s shortbread cheesecake and demolished it with gusto.
To give Steak a fair review, I will definitely go back for the full menu, and the place has an undeniable ‘cool’ about it. Mention should go too to the excellent wine list. Think Meatpacking district warehouse restaurant. Also, I hear the new cocktail lounge downstairs Dry Martini which just opened is going to be quite the spot for a splash or two of the good stuff. Getting thirsty already…