Near Piccadilly Circus a vast but soothing subterranean steakhouse, in Art Deco style, offering high standards of food and service, and an impressive wine ‘offer’ too.
his vast Modern American Steak House is definitely a steakhouse, but there’s little obviously Modern, or American, about it. Nor – though it’s Danish-owned – is it remotely Scandinavian.
Through an entrance a few dozen metres from Piccadilly Circus, you reach the dining room down a rather anonymous, red-carpeted staircase. Given the lack of any real hint of what to expect at the bottom, it comes as a pleasant surprise to be rewarded with one of the best Art Deco interiors in London.
The waiter said that the heritage people hadn’t let them do much to it. Hurrah for the heritage police – this is an interior that didn’t need much improving, but which has certainly been sensitively restored. The only real peculiarity is modern: the banquettes divide you at eye level not from those sitting behind (or ahead) of you (which is not really necessary anyway), but from those who sit adjacent (which would be much more useful).
The menu is largely steak. This is a fixation we personally find a bit odd at the best of times, and especially so – given ‘The Recession’, blah, blah – as a steak dinner is necessarily a pretty pricey one. There are some 300 seats here, and our helpful waiter told us that the average evening spend is about £80 a head. Where – especially in current conditions – do the ever-greater numbers of people prepared to splash out £300 on dinner for four come from? It is all very perplexing.
One of the ways you get the average spend up, of course, is to offer the opportunity to splash out on the wine front, and the list here offers ample opportunity, though prices didn’t look ridiculous. There’s even an elegant glass-fronted cellar to help you get those oenological taste-buds salivating.
Given all these opportunities to spend, spend, spend, we were rather surprised that a filling lunch – it could equally have been a dinner – for one weighed in at under £40. This was notionally just for one course, admittedly, but our precisely-cooked piece of American strip steak (200g) came with bread, copious tasty chips, a big pile of salad and a decent pot of Béarnaise too. Our budget also stretched to a pleasant glass of Malbec, and a good cup of coffee that came (unbidden) with hot milk – a small thing to get right but one which, in our experience, tends to speak volumes about the standards of everything else.