SCORE: 74.5/100 / CCC Rating: *** / Cost Rating: ££
Ambience: 7.5/10 / Wine: 2011, Agrelo Mendoza, Malbec, £24.95, 8.5/10 / Toilets: 7/10 / Service: 7.5/10 : Food (excl. steak): 15/20 / Steak: 13/20 / Menu/table quality: 7/10 / Value for money: 8/10 / +1 Wifi bonus
Quite the occasion for the quorum. Chairman's birthday collides with King Kong's final outing as a permanent member of The Council (he will pursue Antipodean pleasures for a while, before hopefully, returning to once again review alongside Mao, Samson and Caesar). The venue has much to deliver if it is to match the occasion...
Casa Malevo, literally 'tough house', holds rather true to its name. As ever, you're here for the steak, and it is this fulcrum about which the entire experience should pivot. Others who have come here before us have rated Malevo highly, but in the event, the call is far less obvious.
There are some endearing and unusual quirks here that lighten and warm the experience; the cosy living-room feel, a densely-doughy cheese-topped white bread, 'fried egg' sides, Irish Coffee, and even a engagingly sharp home-made passion fruit sorbet (the strongest offering from an otherwise formulaic, narrow yet passable dessert menu)... But these are all peripheral distractions - attention-draining, focus-diverting - and the impression that you are being intentionally misled washes uncomfortably over you. Malevo is then, long on charm, and leaves you far more 'at ease' than the awkwardly-shaped chairs might at first sight suggest. But does it strike a 'tough' chord on the main attraction?
Remember. You are here for the steak. And Malevo IS styled as a steak house. A genuine Argentinian Casa with authentic countrymen at the helm... Meat imports straight from the motherland, latin-american cigar boxes, hispanic liquor bottles, Argentine house music... BUT stripping all this excess away, peeling back the layers, laying bare the steak itself, it underwhelms. Not for lack of moisture, blood, or outer crisping. Not for size, presentation or scent. Not even for the owner/waiter's passionate delivery of the dish, complete with classic Chuchilla sauce variants... But for the taste and the texture. Honestly, these core components could only be described as slightly bland; yes pleasant, but not what you crave. Not CUT, not Hawksmoor, not Barbecoa, but Malevo.
Now, on balance, the sum total of 74 puts it just a shade outside of top quartile, and leaves it looking surprisingly distinguished. And if you want to take your girlfriend on a date to an authentic Argentinian steak restaurant, take her here. It will destroy neither your credibility nor your wallet, and it will probably tick your box (if you get the point). But if you're going somewhere with the boys/lads/guys/chums, you could simply do better elsewhere; choose your occasion carefully, dear reader.
Farewell Kong, welcome the first guest...