And so the Festive season is upon us which this year has signalled a slightly less hectic work schedule and the opportunity for lunching with friends. I caught up with my old uni housemate Tazza on Friday. Tazza has known me since the days where putting cheese in my bacon sandwich was the height of my culinary ambition. We are both a lot wiser and sophisticated nowadays and can afford to eat out at better spots than the Chamon balti house in Selly Oak. I choose “Mash” for our catch up as my default choice “Goodman” was full. I had passed by it earlier in the week and was keen to see where it fitted into the “Goodman/Gaucho/Hawksmoor” scale of steakhouses. I booked for an early 12 lunch but though I was nicely greeted upstairs and coat taken once I eventually got downstairs (long stairwell) it looked like they were still setting up as no one to greet me. Eventually someone popped out to show me to their bar. This is where it all took better shape though not before the same lax reception staff had told Tazza they absolutely must have the table back in 2 hours! We stayed for 3 and the restaurant wasn’t full. Had this problem at Hawksmoor Air St, rude or inexperienced reception staff can really put you off a place.
Anyway back to the bar, it’s really nice and the two guys working it were charming! They mixed me a lovely bourbon concoction, a Benedict Arnold, and we had a good chat about the Rip Van Winkle bourbons (for my money the best in the US). Tazza turned up after her two hour table warning and had a ginger highball which she enjoyed. Whilst sitting in the bar I got a feeling I had been here before and the barman confirmed that this was the site of the non-lamented “Titanic”. A real white elephant of 90’s excess that sometimes had more bouncers than punters but could be quite fun. Somewhere to drink rather than eat! Well so far it was obvious that you could drink very well in “Mash” but how would the food fare?
We were shown to our table by a friendly waiter who looked a bit new but was very enthusiastic and talked us through the menu which is basically lots of different steaks. We skipped starters and Tazza went Uruguayan fillet and I tried the Danish ribeye as it was dry aged for 70 days which should give it good flavour. We ordered normal and spicy fries & onion rings for sides and sauces came with the steaks (it really annoys me when you are charged extra for these). After the cocktails we needed some wine to wash down the steaks. However the wine list was huge, very reminiscent of the sort of tome you get in a New York steakhouse. However the sommelier was very helpful. She picked out a nice Californian Syrah for us and again later helped us out with an American apple brandy as they don’t do French after dinner drinks. The steaks came and were good but at 300g a bit small. However the red wine sauce they gave me was wonderful. Really tasty, Tazza found her peppercorn sauce needed more heat. On the subject of heat everything was served at a perfect temperature so no cold red wine and congealing steaks like at “Hawksmoor”. The sides were nice onion rings tasty rather than greasy like the last lot I had at “Meatliquor”. The straight up chips were very good.
No room for dessert to follow but we did have the coffee (in a proper cafetiere), petit four and brandy. I got confused by the salt pig on the table which I thought was sugar. I was touch embarrassed but the very friendly Maitre D replaced my coffee and assured me I hadn’t been the first guest to put salt in his coffee! The room filled up and there was a nice buzz. Despite the silly warning on entry we weren’t rushed and stayed 3 hours in all. It wasn’t full but it was busy. This is a huge space to fill but I much preferred it to the other giant restaurant near here “Brasserie Zedel”. The bill came to just under £100 a head which is expensive and though our wine and drinks were very good I did feel that we were charged £30 for steaks that would be £25 elsewhere. Service was very nice though, friendly but professional. As a restaurant it’s nowhere near Goodman but probably not far off Gaucho and certainly gets more of the basics right than Hawksmoor. I would happily go again.
Monday, December 17, 2012
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 6