It was the Monday that the Beast from the East had sidled its way into the British Isles and Nappy Valley was shivering under icy ... Read Feature
It’s nice to be invited places, but it was especially nice to be invited for a fine dining experience at Marco Pierre White’s London Steakhouse Co, situated on the King’s Road. Well that’s what myself and the Ultimate Rugby Fan were thinking as we met one Wednesday night outside of Sloane Square station.
For us it was the second time that we were going to be dining on steak in a few days (check entries passim for my thoughts on Wandsworth’s Meat Up Grill,) and though I like steak, it can take a lot to impress me, and frankly I hadn’t been that impressed earlier in the week. OK, one minor gripe I have is that according to the website, London Steakhouse Co. is described as being 15 minutes’ walk from Sloane Square station. I’m guessing that they weren’t basing their estimations on people with the sorts of inside leg measurements of me & the URF when working this out.
The longer walk had one benefit, we were able to stop at the Chelsea Potter about half way along for a quick drink. Now the Potter isn’t one of those pubs you’d describe as nice, in fact half the time it feels like the sort of pub that should be helping the police with their enquiries or being shown on TV with its name pixelated out. I actually quite like it.
London Steakhouse Co. as it turned out is situated towards the end of the King’s Road proper, just after the Bluebird but before the World’s End. From outside it doesn’t appear particularly imposing, being longer inside rather than wider. The interior is nicely done though, in a mixture of whites and creams, that seems luxurious if rather reminiscent of an advert for Imperial Leather.
We were given a table towards the front of the dining area, just one table back from the windows. It’s said that they try and put the most attractive people close to the windows, so either their raw material was rather lacking that evening of the inclusion of the URF in the party more than made up for my mirror cracking charms.
The table was comfortable and felt up market if not intimidatingly so, which I’ve found can be the case with a number of other premises run by celebrity chefs. The reason for our invitation had been to celebrate London chocolate week, and so to start we had a Toblerone cocktail each. OK so this was somewhat of an error as we perhaps should have had them as a pudding, but I have to say the velvety light chocolate smoothness of it was something that I believe I could enjoy on a regular basis. It was one of the best sweet cocktails I’ve had, and hopefully it won’t just be on the menu for special occasions.
The menu is pretty concise and as you’d expect very much steak orientated, though peppered with other steak house classic options such as lobster & pork belly. For starters the URF plumped for the chicken liver parfait, whilst I aimed to create a two course surf and turf experience by going initially with a crab salad. For the main course we were swayed from our initial choices to opt for the Porterhouse special, this all to be washed down with a bottle of Graves from about the midway point on the wine list.
A quick word on the steaks, these ranged from about £18.50 to £37 for individual cuts, with some interesting variations on the way, such as a delicious looking Steak Wellington. With a fairly substantial order received I was a little surprised to receive an amuse bouche prior to the meal. This was a parmesan and truffle risotto of such deliciousness I’m surprised that it doesn’t have its own entry on the menu. Honestly I was impressed and if I’d know it was coming it could have probably done as the starter.
That would have meant however that I missed out on the starter which was a mouth zingingly fresh tasting crab salad. This was slightly reminiscent of the flavours I’d encountered in a Thai salad recently, and none the worse for that. The URF’s chicken liver parfait came as a generous portion, served with nicely toasted brioche and a tasty light chutney, she was delighted with it.
The Porterhouse made quite an entrance, being one of the largest steaks I’ve seen for a while. It was tender, juicy and extremely tasty, though perhaps a bit less well done than the medium we’d asked for. As befitted a steak restaurant this was very much the centre piece of the meal. Having said that, the potato croquettes, again with truffle and parmesan and the seasonal greens were good accompaniments and brought out the flavour of the steak well.
A word here on the wine. You don’t see Graves on the wine list so much anymore. It seems to have a bit of a connotation with times gone buy, the sort of thing you’d have seen at a sophisticated dinner 50 years ago. Well I can say it might not be trendy, but it was top notch and I enjoyed every silky sip.
The service was good, very much in the silver service tradition, attentive, professional without being overly intrusive. That being said they did manage to talk us into a third course, or fourth if you count the amuse bouche, when I was already seriously in danger of popping like an overripe balloon.
I went for the cheese which was a good selection and a fairly generous portion. The URF’s chocolate and chestnut truffle cake, was a delight to behold and apparently a delight to eat as she didn’t leave any of it for me to try.
I decided to finish with a brandy, which brought the total bill up to about £140. OK, as I said before we’d been invited so you’d expect this to be a good review, but genuinely I liked this place. I had arrived with fairly limited expectations as I’d previously dined at steakhouse under the MPW brand. That one wasn’t directly managed by the man’s company directly whereas this one was, and I think that helps to explain the difference.
This felt like dining somewhat in an exclusive but slightly retro gentleman’s club. I mean this in a good way, it was a bit like I’d imagine it to be if the boffins behind Old Spice decided to go into catering. I loved it, and yes the bill was for a dining occasion rather than a quick bite, but many neighbourhood restaurants including Roxies and Meat Up Grill in Wandsworth come close if you’re eating off the main menu, and you wouldn’t make a special trip to go to those.
One thing that Marco Pierre White does well apart from the food is the theatre of dining, where you feel like the meal is an event in itself. That’s how we felt when we left as if we’d been fed and entertained. Again being honest, I wouldn’t say this is the place to propose, it is perhaps a bit too mannish for that, but it is a great place to come for a birthday or even just a Saturday with old friends, I’ll look forward to visiting again.
So leaving with a smile on our lips and a full stomach we went down the road to the aforementioned World’s End where the URF was unpromptly served with a port that had been chilled thus robbing it of any character and leaving it as bland as a Hollywood super hero movie. Even that couldn’t spoil the evening.
Till the next time… Rob