Tried & Tested

Restaurant check: STK London

24 Apr 2013 by ScottCarey7

Background: STK London is the latest outpost for this chain of “not your daddy’s steak house”. The flagship is in New York’s trendy Meatpacking district, with other branches located in midtown Manhattan, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, Hong Kong and The Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas, all of which are part of the One Group.

The menu doesn’t change drastically from branch to branch and naturally steak is the main attraction, with cuts separated in to small, medium and large. To see the London dinner menu, click here. I was sampling the newly launched lunch menu, a picture of which can be seen here.

STK London has a private dining room which seats 16 guests and the main room can seat 240 guests. The restaurant is open Monday to Saturday between 1200 and 0100 and between 1200 and 0000 on Sundays. Lunch is Monday to Friday between 1200 and 1700.

The restaurant is housed within the brand new ME London hotel, operated by the Spanish Melia hotels group. The hotel is located on the corner of the Strand and Aldwych, near Somerset House. To see a news report about the opening of the hotel click here. Business Traveller also reviewed the hotel in the upcoming May edition, to subscribe to the magazine, click here.

The restaurant: The room was brightly lit for lunch service but the predominantly black marble and neon colour scheme gave me the impression that the lights can be dimmed and the atmosphere changed for dinner service. There is a constant and varied soundtrack, kept at a sociable level and varying from classic rock (Lenny Kravitz) to ambient house.

The dining room is split in two by the central bar, where there were plenty of Bloody Marys being ordered (cocktails range between £10-12). The left hand side is by the floor to ceiling windows with a view out on to the main road and is much brighter, with a plain decor compared to the main dining space where I was sat.

This side is more akin to the classic New York steakhouse I was expecting, all white leather booths, heavy tables and tall bouquets with pink neon mood lighting. The left hand side was kept empty for what was a pretty quiet lunch service. The walls here are adorned with large protruding white bull’s horns, which look great.

The food I was dining with a companion and we decided to forego the starters (the lil’ BRGs made from wagyu beef looked excellent though, and were proving popular, despite the lack of vowels) and decided to share the largest steak on the menu with a couple of sides.

The cowboy steak certainly stands out on the menu, particularly weighing in at 750g and with a £55 price tag. The steak came sliced in large chunks. The cut is actually a rib-eye on the bone so there is a heavy amount of marbling. Unfortunately the last two chunks were all fat so the steak seemed smaller than advertised and the price tag soon appears over inflated. The meat that we did have, as you would hope, was excellent though.

Ordered medium rare the steak came more on the medium side, with a good char on the outside. The cut had a high fat content and this meant it melted in the mouth and had bags of flavour. Being an American chain the beef is USDA grade, the highest US grade of meat, with no British cuts on the menu.

On the side we had a chopped salad of baby gem, avocado, cucumber, radicchio, Montgomery cheddar and brioche crutons with a beautiful vinaigrette dressing (£8.75) and the more heart stopping mac and cheese and some parmesan and truffle chips (£4 each).

The mac and cheese came bubbling and was as creamy and delicious as expected. The chips were stacked neatly, with a golden crust and hot fluffy centre. The parmesan and truffle oil coating was rich and moreish.

I had read much of the ‘a taste of the Fairground’ dessert (£14) before my visit and we decided to share again. The dessert consisted of six plates on a metal Ferris wheel. We asked the waiter if anyone braves this on their own, to which he responded, “Yes, plenty of people” with a smile.

Of the six my pick was the rose flavoured candy floss and the tiny candy apples. The other plates contained cakey Madeleine’s, sorbet ice cream cones, flavoured marshmallows and toffee popcorn. The dish is a lot of fun and a definite talking point but as a dessert it all becomes too sweet, everything is nicely made but a flavour contrast is badly needed somewhere amongst the six dishes.

The food certainly isn’t refined but it is classic steakhouse fare done well. However, there isn’t much temptation on the menu away from the steaks and if you are looking for a light lunch you are in the wrong place. It is also important to note that the menu is not a set lunch menu and service was perky but a bit slow to clear plates, meaning our two course lunch easily stretched over an hour and a half.

Verdict This is certainly more of a special occasion restaurant than one for a serious business lunch. Things are kept informal and buzzy and the food is pricey, even by London steakhouse standards. However everything STK does it does well, so it can’t be marked down for not being what it never intended to be, a good addition to the ever growing London steakhouse scene.

Contact togrp.com

Scott Carey

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