Probably the most popular restaurant dish out there, a great steak takes some beating and more often than not a great portion of hand cut chips to go with it. My first memory of ordering a steak was going out with my mum and dad to a local Berni Inn! In their heyday Berni Inns were the place to go and be seen, start off with a great prawn cocktail, then choose a rump, sirloin, fillet or my dad would order a great big t-bone, they would be served with chips, onion rings, grilled tomato, field mushrooms and a great classical sauce like a diane or peppercorn and sometimes the flambé table might come out, fantastic times, finish with a black forest gâteau and a nice creamy and boozy coffee - happy times, what a great restaurant, what happened to them I wonder? Interesting though that prawns, steak and chocolate are still all very popular, I used to call it my Mr. Saturday Night Menu!
A simple grilled steak cooked on a very high heat needs to have great depth so choose a nice and thick cut, best to medium rare for the right taste, flavour and tenderness as this heat being breaks down muscle. Cooking the steak on a chargrill, a la plancha or a josper grill is best because of the intense heat and I like the option to choose my own potato dishes, vegetables and sauces. The best cuts for a simple grilled steak are new York strip loin, sirloin entrecôte, heart of the rump, t-bone, porterhouse, rib eye bone in or out and a great chateubriand, in my opinion these are the best cuts of beef for the job - no fillet you say!
Well, fillet steak is a great favourite of mine, very little fat, very tender but lends itself best to a sauté or pan fried dish where you can create a fantastic dish by cooking a really great centre piece of fillet steak like a tournedos, in lovely foaming butter with sprigs of thyme, rosemary and bay leaf with garlic, till medium rare then make a delicious sauce with shallots, armagnac, peppercorns, beef stock and cream, served with rosti potato, celeriac mash, leaf spinach, onion jam, wild mushrooms, crispy bacon, truffles, what a dish! So for me give the fillet more of a sauce style creation with some nice little chefy tweaks !
As for my favourite places for a steak there’s Wolfgang Pucks new CUT steakhouse in London, also The Hawksmoor and the new 34 by Caprice Holdings is good, Tthe Champney Inn by Clive Davidson in Scotland, Peter Luger in Brooklyn there porterhouse is very special. My all time favourite steak dish comes down to two a steak 'au poivre' cooked by Simon Hopkinson at Bibendum in the 80's and my most recent trip to CUT where the new strip loin was amazing!
Finally what makes a great steak, it must come from a great beast with real family heritage and a breed of animal reared for the job in hand, like long horn, Aberdeen angus, Limousin and Charolais, kept on a fantastic farm, cared for and nurtured, really well fed, a mixture of barley, grass and corn is best, no stress, just relaxed at all times. Carefully taken through the next stage to the butcher who will have sourced exceptional animals, he then prepares the meat into large joints / pieces to be hung for several weeks, the meat is matured, then cut into steaks, for chefs to complete the journey to our guests> I like a big bold red wine with my steaks something from Napa Valley (so massively big) or a great pint of Lord Marples from Thornbridge in my silver tankard, great Sheffield steaks! Well our steak menus at Artisan and Relish are pretty good with inspiration from the Berni Inns, to Wolfgang and Bibendum !