It’s a food critic’s trope as re-worked as a restaurant’s ‘soup of the day’ in its fifth menu iteration; ‘you can tell the quality of a kitchen by its bread’.
But for keen carnivores and the gluten-intolerant too, a more appropriate statement might be this; you can gauge something of a restaurant’s chops by its, erm, chops.
Or, more specifically, its steak.
A hallmark of a great restaurant both casual and classy, if a kitchen can’t respond to your request for blue, rare or, god forbid, well-done, then it’s back to Le Cordon Bleu that the grillardin should head.
Whilst London isn’t as iconic as, say, New York or Buenos Aires when it comes to steakhouses, the city is certainly catching up with those heavy-hitters, with the capital’s residents increasingly well-versed in prized Argentine beef, Grade-A Japanese Wagyu, retired dairy cows, and native breeds sourced from regenerative farming projects.
To put it more plainly, if you’re mad about meat, the city has got you covered; here’s where to find the best steak in London.
There’s a lot to like about Lurra. To start, it’s a bright, calming space, refined in design with one glass wall overlooking a gorgeous courtyard dining area. Shortlisted for the Best Restaurant Interior Design Award in 2015, it’s undeniably a gorgeous space to spend time in.
It’s the food, though, that is the main draw. The menu here draws on the Basque region of Spain, meaning that you can expect some seriously robust flavours on your plate.
The signature dish of Lurra is their Rubia Gallega, meaning ‘Galician Blond’; a hefty 800g of beef from a Northern Spanish, 17-year-old cow; the age where the meat is said to have the perfect ratio of marigold-yellow fat and a rich, almost blue cheese-like flavour. Sourced from Mr. Txuleta, the premier supplier of Basque beef in the UK, this sharing dish is guaranteed to impress.
Alongside this fantastic, imposing cut (served on the bone, of course), the restaurant specialises in other beloved Basque staples, including a whole turbot, blistered and burnished from the grill, and to finish, the perennially popular burnt cheesecake. Though this dessert is so often imitated, Lurra’s version certainly couldn’t be called a duplicate; it’s terrific.
Address: 9 Seymour Pl, London W1H 5BA
Hawksmoor Air Street
Hawksmoor Air Street is arguably a more youthful affair than its more regal six sister restaurants across the capital, its art deco stylings bringing the requisite lightness of touch to counteract that meat coma you’re due after settling the bill.
Doing away with the usual steakhouse decor of basement-level dining room covered in dark wooden trimmings and emerald green leather, Air Street is a (forgive us) more airy affair, with floor-to-ceiling windows and plenty of natural light. Don’t worry; the restaurant still boasts that signature Hawksmoor service. You won’t feel rushed here as you settle in for an evening of feasting, that’s for sure.
This year named as the World’s Best Steak, the beef offered at Hawksmoor is undoubtedly acclaim-worthy, and you’ll have a selection of massive cuts marbled to perfection, all served by weight. Though you pay by the 100g, realistically the minimum you can order is half a kilo, which is a perfect amount for a very, very greedy punter, or for two to share quite happily.
All the meat is British-reared and sourced from various small farms scattered around the country, grass-fed and dry-aged for 35 days, creating beautifully textured steaks rich in flavour.
Their seafood, which at Air Street shares headliner status with the steaks, comes from Brixham market and is brought in fresh daily. On a previous visit, a whole tail of monkfish, grilled over coals and standing up more than capably to the restaurant’s signature bone marrow gravy, had this carnivore contemplating turning pesci (if it weren’t for that pesky bone marrow, of course).
Address: 5A Air St, London W1J 0AD
Flat Iron Covent Garden
There are plenty of great places to eat near Covent Garden, and even the most discerning steak eater would have to count wallet-friendly Flat Iron in that SEO-baiting bracket.
The experience of eating at Flat Iron is just as exciting as the steaks themselves. When you order steak here, this London based chain (there are now 11 outposts in the capital) serves their meat on super hot iron slabs that sear your steak right on the table. This creates an enhanced sensory experience, make no mistake, as the sounds and smells of the sizzling meat get that Pavlov-reaction going before a single slice of steak has passed your lips.
For a restaurant that prides itself on being on the cheaper side, the meat is reliably delicious and perfectly tender. Do the simple things well seems to be their motto; there are only three steak options on the menu, with the Flat Iron Steak clocking in at just £13. Sure, it may not be as thick cut as those at Hawksmoor or as rich as the gear at Lurra, but you’re paying a fraction of the price for the privilege of a damn-fine steak. In these tough times and at this position bang in the centre of the city, who are we to argue?
Address: 17-18 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8QH
Blacklock is a steakhouse that also offers a vast array cuts of meat from a veritable ranch’s worth of animals, making it a great option if you don’t want to be locked into beef and are keen instead to explore the whole spectrum of your carnal desires without fear of judgement.
In addition to some admittedly beautiful steak, at Blacklock you can also sample some excellent pork belly, succulent lamb cutlets or a lamb t-bone, via way of their ‘skinny chops’ offering. For the greedier members of the group, you can have them all, in their signature ‘all in’ dish alongside a freshly grilled stack of flatbread that’s perfect for mopping up all those wonderful meat juices. At £24, it’s a snip.
Anyway, back to the beef; there are six different kinds of bone-in beef on the menu and multiple side dishes and starters that you may not have encountered before (Pig’s head on toast, perhaps?) meaning even the most fickle of diners will find something to satisfy them.
The steakhouse is also great for a cheeky tipple, offering some delicious cocktails that follow their pip to peel philosophy; no fruit is wasted while they create their signature, tangy and sweet Lemon Drop Collins. Cheers!
Address: 28-30 Rivington St, London EC2A 3DZ
Mangel 2 is something a little different to the other more dedicated steak places on our list, but the quality of their beef means we simply had to include the restaurant here.
With an esteemed history as one of Dalton’s most popular family-run Turkish grills, times have changed at Mangal 2, with the Dirik family’s two young brothers, restaurant manager Ferhat and chef Sertaç, introducing a menu that is happy to innovate on tradition.
The results are spectacular, whether that’s in the rugged, farmyard-forward hummus, the cult-favourite mushroom manti with fermented tomato, or the restaurant’s wicked way with cull yaw; essentially, aged mutton with heaps (and heaps) of deep, funky-tasting fat.
We’re here for the steak of course, which, admittedly, isn’t always on this regularly-changing menu. But when it is, it’s a must-order, with that old-favourite the dairy cow, here in sirloin form, hauled over hot coals until the exterior is charred and the middle still blushes.
A final word here. Make sure to save room for dessert; Mangal 2’s tahini tart, topped with a halva cream and a seasonal-fruit glaze (blackberry on our last meal here), is as good an encore as you’ll find anywhere in London.
Address: 4 Stoke Newington Rd, London N16 7XN
Temper Soho offers a more smokehouse-style menu, using the commendable ethos that no part of the animal should be wasted. This makes Temper a resourceful steakhouse, with the result being that you can get prime cuts of steak that are real showstoppers in addition to smaller pieces that are made into skewers or fillings for tacos.
In addition, Temper offers a rotating menu of unique cuts, including anything from Tajin-doused beef brisket and porterhouse cuts.
Though it does have a reputation as being a great place to dine solo in the capital, all three branches of Temper have a party-like atmosphere any day of the week, which is enhanced if you dine on the weekend, as you’ll be able to pair your beef with bottomless drinks for £45 per person all-in. Just make sure you pack that paracetamol!
Address: 25 Broadwick St, London W1F 0DF
The Coal Shed
Located in the heart of the corporate Tower Bridge area, The Coal Shed stands tall as a chic and charming steakhouse which delivers everything you want from a traditional temple to all things cow. It has a warmth to it, helped by the faint scent of woodsmoke used to cook their selection of steaks and fresh fish.
There’s a great selection of succulent beef here, with the restaurant’s rib-eye arguably the finest thing on the menu, owing to a cholesterol-goating fat-to-meat ratio. That said, the small plates offered here really do steal the show. Your meal could quickly become a grazing experience without actually eating anything sourced from the queen of grazing, as their short-rib croquettes, plump and bouncy scampi, and crispy pork belly, the latter generously glazed with BBQ sauce and fragranced with burnt apple, are all superb.
The restaurant also has a sibling in Brighton, which we’ve included in our rundown of the best places to eat in The Lanes, Brighton. Booking in advance is essential.
Address: 8 Boyce’s St, Brighton BN1 1AN
With its baroque-style interior lined with grand portraits, Berner’s Tavern leaves a lasting impression even before your first bite of steak. This is a place to dress up for, as you’ll want to match the elegance of the interior and the food.
Berner’s Tavern – overseen by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton – serves sublime British dishes, with their steaks as a centrepiece. Be sure to try the sharing Coute de Bouef (priced at £110 for two) which comes from the Buccleuch Estate, and could well be the finest of its kind in all of London. Yep, Berner’s Tavern oozes old-timely class and is a fantastic, upmarket place to enjoy steak in the capital.
Address: 10 Berners St, London W1T 3NP
And with that, you might want to stick a fork in us; we’re done. Not before we direct you to our guide on where to eat the best Thai food in London, though.