SCORE: 78.5/100 / CCC Rating: *** / Cost Rating: £££
Ambience: 7.5/10 / Wine: Cotes du Rhone 2012, £21.00, 7/10 / Toilets: 7.5/10 / Service: 8/10 : Food (excl. steak): 15/20 / Steak: 16/20 / Menu/table quality: 7.5/10 / Value for money: 9/10 / +1 Wifi bonus
A balmy Monday night in July sees The Cow Club Council reconvene amidst the dizzying towers of London's financial jugular -'The City'. And for the occasion, Samson has selected the New Street Grill; no, not a greasy eatery in Birmingham's premier rail station, but rather a shiny, well-invested steakhouse attached to the buzzy Old Bengal Bar. First impressions are enticing, with a well dressed Italian hostess welcoming arrivers with impeccable grace. This is matched by second impressions, which cause marvel at the intimately plush leather banquettes (an homage to the traditional steakhouse) set amidst angular, modern masonry and wide planks. City folk speak kindly of New Street Grill, but let us see how it stacks up to the council's reckoning...
The 'ambience' strikes immediately as a genre completely of its own - a sort of 'rustic nouveau' if you like. Its a fusion of stone slabs, rich mahogany tables, Sheffield steel steak-knives, soft filament bulbs dangling gently from ceiling-hung panes, entire walls of temperature-controlled wine machinery, with salacious boudoir touches here and there (leather curtains)... New Streeet Grill is perhaps a little 'Shoreditch' in scope (not a bad thing), bursting with original features that are both preserved and modernised (like the large glass arches), whilst it's evidently more edgy than the straight-up steakhouse, and yet more refined than a Hoxton pop-up. It is then quintessentially 'city', a fusion of old-new, both with outspoken personality and without distinct identity.
As you wait for your compatriots (including, tonight, Prince Caspian after his return to Narnia) don't try to get excited about the bread: it's merely bread, who's only innovation is to be either brown or white. Bread needs to be an event, and it just isn't here. It must promise for the courses to come... What a disappointment then, but in truth, it is the only disappointing facet of an evening spent at New Street Grill...
Steak is ordered, involving 3x 250g grass fed Heron's Farm filets, 1x 350g new york strip USDA prime which is corn fed. After a manageable 15 minutes or so, the main event kicks off. The plating of the steaks is an attractive affair, building your affinity with the meat before even a morsel is consumed. Dry ageing is instantly recognisable, complemented by complex smoky charring. A very deftly
interpreted medium rare, really quite excellently cooked, with no blood dripping, yet abundant juice. The 'Red wine and bone marrow' sauce is stand-out companion, with a Tangy yet subtle flavour which is well balanced between two ingredients, and is both complementary and additive to the charred meat flavours.
Sides aren't exactly a masterclass of innovation, but the onion rings are interesting for being simultaneously moist and dry, as if they've been flash fried, and the 'fried hens egg' is utterly delectable in all of its 'sunny side up' glory. Desserts too are fairly strong, with a 'Valrhona chocolate mousse with creme fraiche' stealing the sumptuous show. 'Mildly savoury caramel ice cream' would perhaps have been a more appropriate tag than 'salted caramel', but in the context of the sorbet, it is a little forgettable. Both the 'Blood orange' and 'lemon-&-gin' sorbets are fantastically refreshing, and intriguingly saccharine; a must-order.
Service deserves a mention too, as your introduction through the door is both polite and flattering. Staff will silently fold and replace napkins should the diner step away from the table, and there is a sense of helpful facilitation at all times, as they seem keen to enable and not to intrude. This really fosters the relaxation of their customers, who seem recognisably free to go about their conversations uninterrupted. Another aspect worthy of mention is the excellently fluffy hand towels in the lavatories, which are either new, or perfectly fabric-conditioned; either way, a small joy for lovers of bathroom luxury.
As a whole then, New Street Grill does nothing it doesn't promise to do; it is new, it is in a street, and it is a grill. There is a sense that you are surrounded by (95% male) city types all breathing collective sighs of relief over NOT being in their respective offices, but is that not the essence of steak-celebration? A departure from the mundane, and a fabulous journey into well aged, properly treated, and expertly-handled cuts of cow... And on this front, New Street Grill delivers a top quartile experience, putting it firmly on The Cow Club Council's map. It is well worth your booking!