Stripbar and Steak – Cocktails and Steak in the City:
Of course accepting invitations to review a bar and restaurant the night before I am due to be at Heathrow for 5.30am might NOT be a wise move. Especially when I haven’t packed, or even worked out what to pack! But, I’ve been to the quirky Malmaison Hotel in Oxford a couple of times now and I do want to see the newly refurbished Malmaison London. In any case, life is for living isn’t it? And who wouldn’t be curious about an invite to somewhere called Stripbar and Steak.
Charterhouse Square, apart from being home to the Malmaison Hotel, is just a stone’s throw from the Barbican. It’s a historic area of London with Tudor Almshouses on one side of the square as well as the old nurses home that has been converted into this rather glorious boutique hotel. Even the street has a Grade II listing granted in 2011 for the “setted” road surface in the Square, laid in the 1860s. Be warned, flats are a good idea – stilettos and cobbled streets are never a great combination.
Downstairs in the stylish Stripbar, we sip on cocktails, or in my case champagne. I AM trying to be well behaved, although I regret my decision once I see the fabulous cocktails enjoyed by my fellow diners. I had thought champagne might be a better and lighter option for someone trying to avoid a hangover the next morning! The Malmaison has a lounge area upstairs which looks a little gentler in style, the downstairs bar clearly takes the issue of cocktails very seriously indeed.
On to the food. The restaurant caters for around 60 people and manages to create a buzzy atmosphere while still retaining a level of intimacy. The menu is relatively short, there’s strip steak in various sizes and a range of great sounding but quite straight-forward alternatives. Starters are more creative. My Lobster Cocktail manages to combine the retro comfort of the 70s with a tangy, light sauce and updated styling, served (I think) in a banana skin wrap on a bed of ice.
The tuna tartare looks stunning too…
Of course, I imagine most people will come here for the New York strip steak. USDA Black Angus, offered in a range of weights and with classic sauces to accompany. It’s not a common cut in the UK – apparently a ‘boneless top-loin’, something like a superior sirloin! And of course in the interest of writing a review that’s what I order.
My medium-rare steak arrives cooked to perfection. I am not a great fan of fatty meat and often avoid corn-finished beef because I find the marbling that is so loved by our friends across the pond is too much. In this case though nothing is excessive and the steak has been so well cooked so that any fat which might have been there has melted leaving just tender morsels of beef.
Then, you need fries if you have steak…in this case skin-on skinny fries.
And spinach gratin is almost healthy – though perhaps not with such a generous helping of cheese as a topping!
At this point I’m almost regretting ordering a 350g steak. But it is utterly delicious and I think I’d have craved a little more if I’d chosen the smaller 250g option. The result though is that I feel the need to forgo dessert. And then a compulsion to sample a bit of everything ordered by the others!
My favourite is definitely the pineapple carpaccio – actually a sensible choice if you’ve overindulged on the main course as I did…
The lemon souffle is stunning too and light as a feather.
But, by now I really do feel like Cinderella. I had great intentions of leaving at 10pm at the absolute latest so I could pack and get to bed before midnight. At 11.15 someone kindly points out that I’m already over an hour late. The result is that I don’t see much of the hotel other than the very beautiful public areas, though I’m now wishing I had I been flying from City Airport because I’m absolutely sure this would have been a perfect place to stay. But for Heathrow in the very early hours of the morning it is less than convenient, so I disappear into the night, managing to avoid loosing a slipper as I make my way back across London.
StripBar and Steak at
18-21 Charterhouse Square