14 Mar 2010

REVIEW: Marco Pierre White's Steak and Alehouse

Marco Pierre White Steak & Alehouse
East India House
109-117 Middlesex St
London, E1 7JF
Tel: 020 7247 5050

Okay, here's the story - I checked out that lastminute (dot com) website a week or so ago, for the first time might I add, as I had decided that along with the bits and bobs i'd bought my mom for mother's day - I also wanted to treat her (and my dad) to a nice meal out somewhere.... as you do. I spent about 5 minutes on the website and then found that some resurants were in fact offering Mother's Day specials including opening when not normally open (which I believe was the case with the one I eventually chose) and reductions on the set menu prices (for example, instead of £34.99 p/h they offered £25.99 p/h or whatever). So after checking out several Gordon Ramsey eateries and looking at every MPW resturant I could see (there's quite a few) I set my sights on the Steak and Alehouse, mainly due to the location and menu.

The location, situated right in the center of the Square Mile, (according the the website) and in very close proximity to Brick Lane, Spitalfields Market and Petticoat Lane Market. This is a bonus as if you're like us, as like to arrive somewhere early in order to figure out where the place is and get parking, it gives you somewhere to burn some time. I could write an essay about Spitalfields in particular but I wont, I just expect you to visit there for yourself - today in particular was impressive albeit smaller than I remember. I purchased some goods, chatted to some creative people, pissed my parents off - the usual... but back to the resturant aye?

I made a reservation very easily through lastminute for 2:30pm but since we arrived outside the very inconspicuous at 2:00pm sharpish we decided to head inside and see what we were letting ourselves in for - and I for one was not disappointed. The interior is quite marvelous, but considering this was the first "upper class" resturant I had ever stepped foot in I guess I am not one to judge, but it was well put together lets just say that. There appeared to be one room, on the lower ground floor while a raised area which I assumed was for private functions or bookings, was situated at the end of the room and higher up (accessed up stairs, obviously). The bar was quite swish, and had a wide range of spirits and whiskey on the shelves - my brother would be pleased, but since I do not drink I didn't pay much more attention than that.

The menu was not dissimilar from the set £34.50 menu - while there were some changes (I figured since the price was reduced the more costly plates (10oz steak replaced with an 8oz) were reduced in size or removed entirely. I was not impressed with the lack of Eton Mess from the menu once I had sat down, even though I am dairy intolerant I was still looking forward to gorging on dairy products since it was a treat. Personally I think that, even though the bookings for the day were made as a special offer and were slightly "cheaper" than usual, if anything on the menu was going to be changed then the reservation makers should be informed (i.e. a separate menu for the day? how hard would that have been?).

The starters, i'm not going to type out the French title, were interesting. I personally chose the Potted Duck with green peppercorns as I love duck and peppercorns and thought it would be the wise choice (and as my dad chose the Gravadlax and my mom the Cream of Cauliflower soup) I wanted to choose something different, but alas I swear there were no peppercorns (no taste of anything like a peppercorn, but plenty of gherkin... odd). The dish was quite greasy, yes it's duck and i'm not one of those who criticises food without having eaten the produce before so I know duck can be greasy, but I just didn't expect to have to wash my hands straight after eating. The gravadlax looked very tasty, it appeared to be slices of salmon on a plate? I had to google the word in order to find out what it was meant to be and that wasnt what I got on google images. According to my mother the Cream of Cauliflower soup was divine, but the sheer fact that it did not come with bread (other than what was put on the table PRIOR to ordering starters) ruined the ambience at the beginning - but the food was nice enough, for a "posh" resturant.

The staff were attentive enough, but only since we aren't a very demanding family - we're quite happy to sit there talking and not be pestered to order immediately after finishing a course. The food, personally, improved a lot when it came to the main course - I chose Spatchcock with Chipolatas, onion rings and triple cooked chips - which was very very nice. I knew what a Spatchcock was prior to going to the resturant since I am an avid watcher of cooking programs, and it really didn't disappoint. My father chose Calf liver and bacon, boiled potatoes and spinach. I dont like liver, that's all I can say. My mother chose the steak and I guess all I can say is that she ordered medium rare and that is exactly what she got, not one drop of blood. Side dishes are £3.75 a dish, this included the chips, spinach and new potatoes - onion rings and tomatoes were included with my own and my mothers' meal whereas my fathers came with god knows what - I was too busy eating and trying not to smell the liver! the food was great, very nice - just what I expected and I was happy for my family to enjoy the food when I was so worried about them not being impressed (high standards usually!).

The deserts, now - this is where things get interesting, the chocolate fudge cake was gorgeous - end of story. BUT, and it's a bit, capitalised but - I am pretty darn sure we were charged twice for the deserts. The SET menu was £29.95 or something and yet on the bill the deserts were added manually, but since the staff were clearly busy and not of English nationality my father decided to send and email just to make himself feel better once we got home. I don't really need to say much about desert since I really wanted the Eton Mess and it wasn't on the menu so "BOO", but on the whole the desert, along with the meal was spot on and just what we wanted after a long day walking around markets and spending money.

I would go again, for sure - but would make sure the set menu is actually a set THREE COURSE menu prior to ordering, instead of being typically English and not saying anything.

7/10 - would have been a point higher overall if we weren't effectively ripped off, and for £160 I expect a lot.

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