Monday, 28 May 2012

Review: Steak Edinburgh

There are a couple of things that seem to be quite 'fashionable' foodwise at the moment - foraging and steak. I'm too lazy to forage, but I am a fan of a steak. There are quite a few steak restaurants in Edinburgh and the number is increasing at the 'higher' end of the market. Steak opened at around about the same time as Kyloe (formerly The Restaurant at The Rutland), but it's located at the other end of Princes Street in one of their old competitors buildings. Formerly known as Hawk&Hunter, 12 Picardy Place has had a revamp, getting Mark Greenaway on board - Scotland's latest celebrity chef. Steak is another, very different, offering to the ever popular area. I was quite excited when Victoria, one of the lovely Edinburgh Cake Ladies, sent a tweet out asking if anyone fancied trying Steak's Thursday Steak 'n' Shake night - at £13.50 for a 250g sirloin and chips, it was a good deal.

The ladies arrived at Steak. It's a pretty impressive entrance - past a concierge desk, into a dark room, mostly lit by candles. Backless bookcases dotted with hardbacks, church pillar candles and oversized bottles of spirits separated the space into three areas. The front, with the bar, has two enormous tables, the middle (where we were) another enormous table, and the back a variety of sizes.
photo from the Steak website
It was dark. Very dark. I could just imagine my mother saying "if I'm paying money for food, I want to be able to see it". She'd have a point. Considering how few diners there were at 7pm on a Thursday, pumping music out at an over-loud level also seemed a little odd. This is the Abercrombie & Fitch of Edinburgh restaurants.
photo from the Steak website
We were seated, after some kerfuffle about having a table that would have seated 14 having 9 on it. The waitress handed out menus. After that it got a little confusing. She only seemed to talk to the two of us at one end of the table at a normal volume, rather than trying to speak to us all from a sensible mid-point. That was slightly awkward. She didn't mention the Steak and Shake offer - we had to ask what the shakes of the day were (Bounty, peanut butter, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry). She didn't know if I could substitute it for a non-dairy option (note - the website offers a smoothie option but there was no mention of this) so I ordered a Tomato Juice and hoped for the best. It was not the best service I've ever had, but considering the enormous tables and the pumping music, I'm hardly surprised that she struggled.

We ordered, and our steaks came perfectly done. Everyone was impressed at how beautifully cooked they were, and how well presented. And - bonus points - the generous portion of bearnease sauce came automatically rather than as an 'extra'. The chips were good as far as chips go.
I ordered a side of "Buttered Spinach and Hazelnuts" and was disappointed. Although there were a good number of nuts sprinked on top, it completely lacked seasoning. It cried out for salt, pepper and a pinch of 'something' (nutmeg, perhaps), and I have no idea if butter even went near it. I suspect not - towards the bottom of the portion, the spinach floated in 2-3 tablespoons of water implying it'd been steamed and reheated rather than freshly cooked in butter. I was very glad I'd not tipped it out onto my plate - my steak would have been swimming.
Some of the other ladies ordered sides and fared better - the truffled macaroni cheese was tasty - not a massive portion, but highly flavoured and nicely crusty on top. I'd recommend it as an alternative to chips if eating from the a la carte.

I should probably also mention the tomato juice. It arrived along with the shakes at no extra cost - good to know that there's an alternative. However, it was no 'regular' tomato juice. I have no idea what I was served, and if I'd been with people I knew better, it would have gone back. It was watery, and fizzy. Yes, fizzy. It tasted weird too. It's taken me the best part of 3 days to work out what the strange aftertaste was (to begin with, I could only describe it as slightly sour), but it tasted like someone had topped it up with carbonated water. You know that slightly unusual metallic taste? That, but with lemony tomato juice. Not good at all.

Steak Edinburgh has so much potential. I have issues with the website (a woman suggestively biting into a raw steak on the front page? Seriously?) and interior, but these are probably be a matter of taste. Decent steak is a treat for every carnivore, but to encourage return visitors, it has to get the basics right or run the risk of being labelled as All Fur Coat and Nae Knickers.

Steak 'n' Shake Thursdays: £13.50
Buttered spinach and hazelnuts: £3
Truffled macaroni cheese: £3

12 Picardy Place, EH1

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