A mega-pricey US-import steakhouse, on the Belgravia site long known as Drones (RIP); for those prepared to pay the premium for USDA meat, it may make a congenial destination, especially if someone else is paying the bill.
ow much would you pay for a good steak? That's the £40-odd-plus question that comes into your mind as you survey the menu of this recently-opened US import, which occupies the Belgravia site that was formerly Drones.
The other question is: what’s with the cartoons? Well, it turns out it’s all to do with the heritage of the chain – established in NYC in 1926 and still family-owned – whose original, Second Avenue, branch has always had a caricature collection of considerable note.
For the uninitiated, though, the cartoons and the plush and well-spaced seating contrive to give the Belgravia visitor a turgidly Uncle Sam-on-tour sort of impression. The place struck us as a sort of über-smart Chicago Rib Shack for expense-accounters and Eurotrash: the prices seem almost designed to put off everyone else. The cheapest steak on the menu is the 10oz Filet Mignon for £39 – almost exactly the same figure as their NYC branches charge… in dollars. No recession in Belgravia, obviously.
"Proudly", naturally, the restaurant serves "Aged USDA Prime Beef". The premium you’re prepared to pay for that will probably determine how much you take to the whole place. At the best of the steak chains, Gaucho Grill, steaks kick off at £12.25; at Mayfair’s recently-launched Goodman, £23; and at the notoriously greedy Rib Room at the Carlton Tower, just up the road, £33. Whether you think the super-premium prices levied for the USDA meat on offer here are worth it must ultimately be a matter of faith.
There are other options, of course: fancy salads, sandwiches and burgers – even grilled fish – for £12-£15. And the prix-fixe lunch we sampled was an unexpected bargain. But if you’re entertaining on business – as we were – you just know your guests are going to dive straight into the "Steaks & Chops". Our guest proclaimed his meat outstanding, but whether your accounts department will share the excitement is another matter entirely.
Non-meat portions are super-sized in a way which may be authentic, but which we found irritating. A calamari starter, for example, was totally overblown, and standard servings of "Vegetables and Potatoes" come "family-style" – enough, we’d have thought, for three typical Londoners. Half-portions are available, if you read the menu carefully, but why the upsell, and the consequential waste?
Service is real friendly, and we liked its conscientiousness. Those, however, who prefer something a bit more, well, reserved may think it grates a bit. Let's remember which side of the Pond this Palm is planted on, after all.