Just thought I’d clear something up… Girls. Like. Eating. Steak. God knows who came up with the ludicrous idea that we don’t. We have canine teeth too don’t you know? One of the most memorable meals I ever had was a perfectly cooked tournedos at The Ritz when I was about 12 or 13. We were celebrating my parents’ wedding anniversary. I don’t remember which one, but I do remember the succulent juicy meat. I remember that it came with a creamy cauliflower puree on the side. I remember thinking it was just one of the most delicious things I’d ever eaten. I probably still think that (first impressions can be powerful).
And yet, until very recently, London steak houses have traditionally appealed the (cave)men of our city in terms of their style and delivery. Luckily, this attitude is dying. STK geared their whole marketing campaign towards the fairer sex. Come and have a rib eye as well as a lychee martini, they said. I did exactly that. The beautifully laid back Flat Iron near Carnaby Street is a new favourite of mine too. Gorgeous cuts of tender meat for a tenner. A tenner!!! The perfect low-key lunch date.
So imagine how thrilled I was to hear that the gorgeous Malmaison Hotel near Farringdon had undergone a refurb, and with its re-launch came Strip Bar & Steak. Nooo, not that kind of strip bar. Don’t get any ideas… The kind that is named after the cuts of beef on offer: New York Strip Steak. We got down to try it for ourselves pronto.
As with all the Malmaison properties, this one is a beautiful old building. You will find it nestled amongst other beautiful old buildings in one corner of a classic Old-London square that you can imagine dapper gents crossing with their bowler hats and brollies back in the day.
Walk in though, and the space is slick and modern. Apparently all the rooms have had a facelift too. Strip Bar & Steak is located downstairs. You literally can’t miss it, as there is a giant glittery sign with an equally giant arrow pointing the way. The décor itself is minimalist but not try-hard. Neon signs exclaiming “life is a party!” (we agree by the way) adorn exposed brick walls. Bare lighbulbs hang artfully from the ceiling which I suppose attests to their goal to bring some of New York’s glamour to Farringdon. But all this is offset by soft chairs, cosy booths and an impressive looking wine collection on one wall softening the whole appearance.
I met my dinner companions (all girls FYI) and started with a classic daiquiri. Like with a steak, some things are classic for a reason. We were led to our table where a lovely waitress talked us through the menu.
I started with a goat’s cheese, pear, apple and raspberry salad which was perfectly light and presented so prettily that it almost seemed a shame to eat it. The tuna tartare looked equally as impressive and is definitely one I’ll have to come back for.
Now, after me banging on about how girls like to eat steak (still true), I must admit that when it comes to eating out, fish is a weakness of mine – purely because I can’t cook it well myself. So when the same lovely waitress said she only had two portions of roast halibut left, how could I refuse!? I was have no regrets about my choice as it was tasty and tender and swimming in a creamy beurre blanc sauce. But in the interest of research, I did obviously have a bite of someone’s steak. It looked too good not too (see pics below). Pink and juicy, it tasted as good as it looked. A liberal selection of sides are available as well from green beans covered in an amazing mystery sauce (I forgot to ask what it was), to lobster mac n cheese, or truffle mash.
Despite us eating our way through most of the menu, I am a firm believer that there is always room for dessert. I went with the waitress’s recommendation of a pineapple carpaccio with coconut ice cream. It doesn’t sound that exciting, but she was absolutely right to choose it. I genuinely have no idea how they slice a pineapple that thin, but the translucent slithers of sweet fruit were so perfectly accompanied by the kick of chilli dressing that I ate the whole thing (as well as a substantial amount of fluffy lemon soufflé – again, obviously in the interest of research).
I suppose that’s the beauty of this place, whilst they are obviously focusing on their steak, and rightly so, there really is something for everyone. Go as crazy as you like, or eat light. Have your pick of 100 wines on their list, all available by the glass, or stick to great cocktails. This is a great place to do dinner with a group, without anyone having to compromise on their palate or their cravings.
By the time we’d had coffee, and worked off the soufflé by laughing so hard my sides hurt, I looked around and we were the last ones in there. Without ever feeling rushed, somewhere that makes you forget the time is the most brilliantly dangerous of them all.
Strip Bar & Steak
18-21 Charterhouse Square
London EC1M 6AH