My flatmates and I have this awesome tradition where on each of our birthdays we go out for steak. We wanted to try somewhere new for James I’s 25th birthday, so we went to the Bull Steak Expert in Holborn. I mentioned it was a celebratory meal when I booked on TopTable and – props to the management – they called me within a few hours to ask if I wanted a candle in his dessert. My ultimate goal was, of course, to get him on a chair with the entire restaurant singing Happy Birthday, TGI Fridays style, but the candle was a good start.
The crowd was as you’d imagine for a Tuesday night at a Holborn steakhouse; the slightly older, less coked-up kind of off-duty city boy, and a few blokes taking younger women out to dinner. I usually find that the restaurants these men choose to take their glamorous squeezes are excellent – there are, after all, blow jobs at stake (ha!)
We went for the set menu, because, well, it would be ridiculous not to. £37.50 buys you a starter, a steak, a side, a sauce and a dessert. AND a decent glass of wine. Not bad, especially considering that gram for gram the a la carte menu comes out at a similar price to arguably London’s top beefery, Gaucho.
James II and I had the beef carpaccio with rocket, which is one of my favourite things and came soaked in a delicious, salty vinaigrette, which might be a bit strong for some but in my opinion magnificently flavoursome. Birthday boy chose the steak tartare, which although very similar I can never bring myself to order as it usually arrives looking like a raw beefburger. There were also salmon tiraditos on the menu but, you know, beef goes great with beef.
The steaks on offer were enormous. There was a choice between a 350g Angosto (sirloin), 350g Ancho (ribeye) or a 200g Lomo (fillet). THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY GRAMS. Do you know what that is in real measurements? 12.34 oz. Nearly a pound. Don’t think for one second then I can’t eat that much steak, because I definitely can, but on this occasion I was going for quality over quantity and picked the fillet option.
The steak was well-cooked and the perfect size. We saw some other people’s monster beefcakes arrive and I was glad I’d gone for the less sizeable option.
For my side I ordered chips, because I’d had a bit of a shitty day and the only thing I like more than steak is deep-fried potato. I regretted it when I saw the boys eating their humitas, an Argentinian dish of supersweet corn mixed with cheese. It was delicious, both spicy and creamy, like a sort of South American sag aloo. The chips were a bit disappointing…I mean, it’s hard to fuck up potatoes, but in these steakhouses they tend to double- or triple-fry them, or soak them in a delicious boozy marinade. But these were…just chips. Like McCain makes.
The dessert menu was a bit uninspiring – a choice between dulce de leche pancakes, dulce de leche flan and a passionfruit mousse – but we all chose the pancake, which was actually delicious even though I don’t really like caramel.
Then James I’s birthday wotsit came out and it turned out to be the dulce de leche flan, which we all sort of regretted not ordering because it tasted like wibbly wobbly creme brulee.
Overall: delicious, and good value too if you go for the set menu. I wouldn’t say the meat was as mouth-melty as Hawksmoor, the defending champion, but for £37.50 including wine you can’t really go wrong. Also, the service was incredible: friendly, professional, and sexily-spoken. Who doesn’t love a Spanish accent?
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.