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There are no shortage of places to eat steak in London. Fine cuts of meat, rich sauces, chips cooked a hundred times and a hundred ways, and a few bottles of fine claret to wash it all down. The competition however is fierce, as chefs and enterpeneurs fight for the corporate cards and the flow of City cash. Produce good steak, in a cool venue with atmosphere, and the money will come (and go straight into the wine cellar). Unfortunately New St Grill forgot this.
New St Grill is a recent addition to the City gastro scene. Situated on New Street in the Old Bengal Warehouse, it has a good location and a lot of passing footfall. It should be busy. But when I went there a couple of months after it had opened, on a Thursday night, it was quiet. The main room of the restaurant had only 2 other tables with guests. I sat down and whispered to my company about the menu. It felt awkward. Unlike Hawksmoor or Goodmans, full of noise and buzz, this place was dry. The bar next door, which you have to walk through to get to the bathrooms, was busier, and will be good in the summer with its big open doors that spill onto the terrace outside. But the restaurant was like a library. The Emirates Stadium has a better atmosphere. Four guys and lots of wine would be a recipe for disaster. Speaking of which…
The food wasn’t much better. The 350g fillet, priced at £40, is expensive. For over 11p/g it should be tender and soft. It should melt in your mouth. And when I ask for it rare it should be blood red in the middle. This is not complex. And yet they still couldn’t master it. My rare steak came tough as boot leather. It was so rough on the outside I ended up cutting the outer layer of meat off and leaving it on the side of my plate. It was like a chargrilled BK Whopper gone horribly wrong. Actually the burger would have been nicer, and 1/10th of the price. The inside of the steak was ok, nothing special, just a slightly overcooked square of meat. The bearnaise sauce was a pleasant way of masking the flavourless slab of cow. The sides were pretty standard, but deep fry chips for long enough and they will always taste ok. Fat makes stuff nice. It’s a fact.
The wine was good. We drank a 2011 Sancerre which, although not usually matched to red meat, was crisp and tangy. A markup on the RRP of 250% wasn’t outrageous. I would buy it again.
Otherwise not a lot to remember fondly. Next time it’s back to Hawksmoor.
by James Russell