London is oozing steakhouses at the moment. Whether in Mayfair or Shoreditch, it seems as if every other opening promises ever-greater feats of carnivorous endurance, tempting punters to sink their canines around a slice of cow that seems to get bigger and better by the day. In the last twelve months alone, there has been a new Hawksmoor, STK on the Strand, Flat Iron in Soho and, last but definitely not least, MASH, which opened its doors on Brewer Street at the end of 2012.
The name doesn’t refer either to the much-missed medical sitcom or mashed potato, instead being an acronym for ‘Modern American Steak House’. Which is fine, except MASH is something of an anomaly, being a Danish chain which has tentatively ventured into the increasingly crowded London market. It offers all the things you’d expect – hearty platefuls of beef, simple sides and starters and boisterous red wines by the score – and a few that you wouldn’t.
The scale and size of the operation is undeniably impressive.
The initial surprise comes upon entering, where you find yourself heading down an interminably long staircase to eventually arrive at a vast subterranean room, decked out like an ocean liner in the grand style from the 1930s. Banquettes and tables festoon the place, which was moderately busy without being rammed on a weekday lunchtime. (Evenings, our cheerful waiter happily confided, are rather more happening). The scale and size of the operation – two large private dining rooms, two wine cellars, enormous display cases full of slowly ageing cuts of beef – is undeniably impressive, but London is thronged with lavish and spectacular rooms. What’s the food like?
First things first. You’ve come here for the steaks, and they’re excellent. My guest and I shared a couple of contrasting steaks, one a NY strip of American beef and the other a Danish ribeye. The tastes were noticeably different, with the Danish steak boasting a chewier, more complex flavour and the American one offering a cleaner meat hit. Both are well worth trying, but I’d recommend the American one if push came to shove. The sauces (red wine and béarnaise) are excellent, and the usual side orders (chips, creamed spinach, tomato salad) are about as good as you’ll get in any steak restaurant in London. Washed down with a bottle of well-chosen Californian Merlot, this is a true pleasure.
The rest of the meal was more variable. My guest’s smoked salmon starter was a big, robust one, which seemed to suit the atmosphere of the place, but I wasn’t wild about my snails, which had been deshelled, and then served in a odd crouton-spotted sauce. Everyone knows that there’s only one way to serve snails and that’s in their shells, drenched in that gooey green garlicky sauce, mopped up with lashings of baguette. Puddings are pretty decent but unexciting – mixed berry compote is essentially cold crumble and crème brûlée is, well crème brûlée.
But in all honesty it’s the meat that’s the piece de resistance here, and if you come in suitably hungry and carnivorous mood, I doubt very much that you’re going to be disappointed. So have a cocktail, soak up the Art Deco-infused atmosphere and do justice to a very good piece of steak indeed.
MASH, 77 Brewer St, London W1F 9ZN, Tel: +44 20 7734 2608
Steak and MASH
It’s the meat that’s the piece de resistance at MASH and if you come in suitably hungry and carnivorous mood, we doubt very much that you’re going to be disappointed.
Alex Larman woke up at the tender age of 23 and, Martin Luther King-like, announced to the world that he had a dream. He was simultaneously going to write the 21st century's answer to Ulysses, direct the film that the bastard child of Scorsese, Kubrick and George Formby might have made and become a global roue on a hitherto unknown scale. Then reality kicked in, and the dream collapsed, in favour of a parlous and occasionally sketchy existence maintained writing about food, drink, film and all the other essential requirements of a modern boulevardier's life.
Contact the author