REVIEW: MASH STEAK HOUSE
MASH is not your ordinary bangers and mash joint by virtue of the fact that they don’t sell sausages and mashed potatoes. No, MASH actual stands for Modern American Steak House and is one of the newest additions to Mayfair/Piccadilly’s booming lavish grill scene. Myself and BSF editor Hanna White went down to see whether MASH can compete with the best of the best.
MASH opened in October 2012 after an extensive refurbishment of what used to be the Titanic restaurant on Brewer Street in the shadow of Piccadilly Circus. The new owners are no strangers to the restaurant business and have taken the plunge into the London after conquering Denmark with 4 successful restaurant ventures. I have very high expectations as the Danish company have a reputation for fantastic wine on account of co-founder Jesper Boelskifte’s award winning sommelier background and I’ve got my fingers crossed that the food can match the star billing.
I arrive at MASH and go down the 2 flights of stairs to reach the underground venue. It is probably an insult to call this place ‘underground’ as most I have visited in the past turn out to be dives (Students will go anywhere for a cheap drink)- but MASH is special. Walking through reception, the Mac computers and modern art on the walls illustrate the contemporary nature of the restaurant, but within the confines of the dining area, only subtle changes have been made to the delightful 1930’s theme of Titanic; with lamp lit dining booths; large pillars; and lots of vintage sparkle.
As we are shown to our booth, the bar area is abuzz with smartly dressed business people enjoying post work drinks, but we seem to be one of the only 6pm diners in such a large dining hall, so we may be in for a quiet evening. Our host, Maurice, strides over and hands us the menu and explains a bit about the restaurant. We are handed the wine menu which is more akin to a book, with bottles available from many of the great vineyards of the world; and we are even treated to a tour of the various climate controlled cellars (How many restaurants can say that?). They really have gone to town on the list and as I am not the most cultured wine drinker, it was good to know that MASH has multiple sommeliers on hand and all the waiting staff are given extensive training, so we were well informed.
Before delving into wine, we treat ourselves to the MASH signature Margarita, which included eucalyptus syrup, and is amongst the best I have tried. We were then ready for starters and we were encouraged to get a few dishes from the heavily French influenced menu to share, so we went for veal sweetbreads, fried squid, and also sampled the Charcuterie including foie gras, and Serrano ham. A personal favourite was the squid as the chilli flake seasoning warmed the throat, and although foie gras may not be to everyone’s taste, it was cooked in a universally appeasing way and suited the California Pinot Noir recommended to us.
After a short recess, we were ready to order our mains. Having difficulty deciding which of the 13 cuts from 4 countries to try; so Maurice suggested we take a look at the cabinet with all the different meats on offer. A nice touch, and helped us elect for the Danish Sirloin & American Ribeye.
As our freshly cooked steak is sliced in front of us, I notice that the restaurant is packed with guests, but that is only a fleeting thought as my attention is drawn back to the carved pink meat. I was intrigued to try the Danish steak and was surprised by how powerful the flavour was, and as tender as it was, it was no match for the Ribeye which was by far the standout dish. This was complimented by a range of sides including a beautiful mash potato dish, mac and cheese, and even bone marrow (blame Hanna for that one).
By this point, I felt like a Christmas turkey and it seems that this is common for diners who frequent MASH as we were given at least 45 minutes before Maurice asked us about desserts. Not wanting to stop the party, we obliged by opting for the ‘real’ cheesecake with raspberry sorbet, which was as good as expected for a premium American style restaurant. And Hann chose the chocolate cake which is recommended for rich chocolate fans. Although both were enjoyable, at £10 per dish, they are a little overpriced. We also went for a 2010 Hungarian sweet dessert wine to accompany and was the perfect finish to a wonderful experience.
MASH is not just somewhere to eat, it is an evening out where you are encouraged to stay and socialise throughout the evening with no pressure to free up the table. We stayed for a little over 4 hours and could easily have stayed longer. This steak house is a breath of fresh air in the London scene with food which can hold its own with the best, and manages to ooze class without the air of pretence which often follows. It may be pricey, but for meat lovers, it is highly recommended.
MASH Restaurant, 81 Brewer St, W1F 9ZN. For bookings, visit www.mashsteak.dk