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Where to find the best steak in London, from Hawksmoor to Flat Iron and more

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2018 survey found that the majority of British men would choose steak and chips as their final meal on earth (women, meanwhile, opted for a roast dinner — and one could argue a meal associated with Sundays feels more fitting for a last supper before meeting one’s maker).

If neither choice feels especially wild, it speaks to the comfort the pair offer — and arguably, a good steak is as close as one can get to heaven on a plate. Thanks to a 15-year boom in steak restaurants in the capital, most now knows what a good steak looks and tastes like at its best: charred and crusty on the outside, ruby red within, and with a minerally, mouth-filling flavour that delivers wave after wave of primal pleasure.

Given that popularity, many chefs will put steak and chips on the menu simply because it is guaranteed to sell — and they can charge top whack for it. But steak doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. Blacklock, for instance, sells less fashionable cuts for low prices, while Flat Iron has made a thriving business out of serving steak for £12.

Of course, with something so simple, it’s easy to get things so very wrong. Provenance is key; good butchers to look out for on the menu include Warwickshire’s Aubrey Allen, London’s Ginger Pig, Lake District Farmers and Philip Warren in Cornwall.

As to how you like that meat, it’s entirely a matter of personal preference. Fillet is the most tender and leanest cut, so can be cooked rare — though its lower fat content can mean a subtler flavour. Sirloin is halfway between fillet and rump in terms of taste and texture, with the ideal balance of tenderness and fat and is best cooked medium rare. Rib-eye is broadly considered the tastiest cut, thanks to its high fat content, which means it is often best medium (the fat needs time to melt). Rump is firmer than all three of these and can be chewy if served below medium rare.

From British grill rooms to sky-high Kobe beef, glitzy imports to good-value homegrown chains, and whether you want it served up with chips, chimichurri or just a green salad, here we’ve selected our favourite steak restaurants in London. Where’s the beef? Keep reading.

Hawksmoor Spitalfields

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It’s a measure of the all-conquering success of this British steak and cocktail chain that it recently opened in New York to rave reviews, which must be the food equivalent of taking coals to Newcastle, then burning the place down. It is a further measure of Hawksmoor’s success that the Manhattan outpost feels as American as the UK restaurants feel British, for each branch has remained reassuringly individual. This Spitalfields original, just up from Nicholas Hawksmoor’s Christ Church, is where it all began in 2006, and though the formula remains largely unchanged, it never feels formulaic. British beef from regenerative farms is grilled just long enough for the outside to turn crusty while the inside stays pink and served alongside side orders that would make a meal in themselves: fatty bone marrow, thick-cut maple bacon and creamy sauces for dunking beef-dripping French fries. Starters and puddings — scallops with white port and garlic, sticky toffee sundae — are every bit as good and, though prices are steep, huge portions makes three courses unlikely. There are other branches across the capital, this is simply our pick of the bunch. The new one in Canary Wharf, which floats and has a spectacular bar, is definitely one to try, though.

157a Commercial Street, E1 6BJ, thehawksmoor.com

Cut at 45 Park Lane

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The dining room at The Dorchester’s 45 Park Lane hotel comes courtesy of Wolfgang Puck, a chef so famous in the US that he’s appeared in an episode of The Simpsons and catered for the Oscars. Throw in walls hung with Damien Hirsts and the combination of location and celebrity, and the combination should be a warning to pack your most gilt-edged gold card when dining here. If eating with the international super-rich is not your idea of a good time, walk on by, but otherwise swish through the hotel’s revolving door to find those high prices matched by high-quality cooking and the sort of smooth-as-silk service that more than earns its 15 per cent attending to the needs of the one per cent. Meals kick off with a Champagne trolley before another trolley arrives bearing the namesake cuts, from grain-fed USDA Prime to gamier grass-fed British beef and wagyu so rich it tastes more like foie gras.

45 Park Lane, W1K 1PN, dorchestercollection.com

The Quality Chop House

Andrew Montgomery

Chophouses are the English forerunner of the more American steakhouse and came to prominence as 17th-century dens of intrigue, though it was Victorian London when they really proved their chops as affordable eating places. The Quality Chop House dates from 1869 and, though affordable is a fairly flexible term in the 21st century, it’s easy to imagine intrigue being woven in its Grade II-listed wooden booths. There’s still always at least one chop on the daily changing menu but also Aberdeen Angus sirloin (on or off the bone) and Hereford chateaubriand and rib, served with up-to-date accompaniments such as purple sprouting broccoli with ajo blanco, brown butter and almonds that the Victorians would have displayed in the Crystal Palace as the height of exoticism. If you like what you eat and drink, take something home from the butcher and wine shop next door.

88-94 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3EA, thequalitychophouse.com

Rotunda

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One of London’s more unlikely waterside dining spots, Rotunda sits within the Kings Place arts venue by the Regent’s Canal at King’s Cross. The beef comes from the restaurant’s own farm in Northumberland and is hung and butchered onsite before being presented to diners to select from a board. Rump and sirloin form the core of the menu, supplemented by a regularly changing line-up of sharing cuts such as tomahawk, chateaubriand, porterhouse and côte de boeuf, with other bits of beef turned into burnt ends, bresaola and burgers. Non meat-eaters get the likes of buckwheat pasta with hispi cabbage and hazelnut cream or whole baked lemon sole with beurre noisette, and there’s a tart of the day with whipped cream to finish. With a glass of rosé on the canalside terrace to go with your steak and chips, who needs the Med?

Kings Place, 90 York Way, N1 9AG, rotundabarandrestaurant.co.uk

Sagardi

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“Old cow” is rarely a compliment but when applied to Galician beef it delivers some of the most richly flavoured meat on the planet. Spanish import Sagardi specialises in txuletón, beef cut from cattle of at least six years old, which is liberally seasoned with rock salt before being grilled over burning oak. The meltingly tender steak is bounded by a girdle of buttery fat and, like wagyu, the densely intense meat may not be to all tastes — or budgets: the butch dining room of bench-like tables and glass-fronted cabinets, gleaming with bottles of big-name Iberian wine, feels tailor-made for City boys out on the razz in Shoreditch. Elsewhere on the menu is a greatest hits of Spanish cooking (ham croquettes, pan con tomate) as well as the more recherché likes of braised suckling lamb trotter in Biscay sauce, plus a polite request that “for vegetarian dishes, ask our chef”. Do let us know what he says.

95 Curtain Road, EC2A 3BS, sagardi.co.uk

Gaucho Charlotte Street

JWH Photography

Back in the early noughties, this cowhide-clad Argentine-themed chain was as sophisticated as steak restaurants in the capital got. Gaucho might have fallen off the radars of London’s cooler foodies but there’s still much to enjoy, not least at the revamped Charlotte Street branch — owner Martin Williams has done this place proud — where the addition of a four-seater beef bar has brought the concept of a chef’s table to steak lovers and there’s not a follicle of cowhide in sight. Argentine beef (all carbon-neutral, Gaucho promises) comes in four butterflied and marinated spiral cuts as well as the usual fillet, rib-eye, rump and sirloin, which are also available as a sampler plate (£115) so you can decide once and for all which is your favourite. Prawn ceviche, tuna tiradito, chicken empanadas and salted dulce de leche cheesecake round out a gently South American experience, washed down with Argentine wines on tap. Look out, too, for monthly movie screenings.

60a Charlotte Street, W1T 2NU, gauchorestaurants.com

Flat Iron Shoreditch

Justin De Souza

Beak Street is the original location for this now nine-strong chain of steak restaurants, but Shoreditch is the first stop for the premium cuts of picanha, sirloin and rib-rye, cooked over a 15ft wood-ember hearth. However, it’s the namesake flat-iron steak which made the place famous and, even if it is no longer the bargain £10 it was when Flat Iron launched in Soho in 2012, £12 for steak is still one of the capital’s most appealing cheap eats — as well as one of the best quality, with the meat sourced from the restaurant’s own herd in North Yorkshire. Expect to pay extra for everything else, though with chips for £4, béarnaise and peppercorn sauce for another £1 and soft-serve ice cream on the house, you’ll still have change from a £20 note. Flat iron, by the way, is the American name for what the Brits called feather blade, a small cut taken from the shoulder and best served rare or medium-rare so it doesn’t have time to toughen.

77 Curtain Road, EC2A 3BS, flatironsteak.co.uk

Smith & Wollensky

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This was the first international outpost of an American steakhouse founded in 1977, legend has it, by randomly picking two names out of the New York phone book. There are now seven S&Ws stateside and this vast art deco-esque site, tucked away behind the Strand, is packed with homesick US expats who love the huge portions that make it feel like Thanksgiving every day. To start, there is split pea soup with bacon, prawn cocktail and salads that are merely a conduit for blue cheese and bacon. USDA Prime steak, dry-aged on site for 28 days, is the star turn, kicking off at £70 for a 500g Kansas-cut bone-in sirloin; the selection of Irish steaks is considerably cheaper while side orders of whipped potatoes, creamed spinach and truffled mac’n’cheese are so rich you won’t need pudding. To get the most beef for your buck, a pre-theatre menu has sirloin carpaccio followed by a 250g Aberdeen Angus sirloin and fries for £34, or pretend you’re under 12: the two-course kids’ menu clocks in at £12.50.

1-11 John Adam Street, WC2N 6HT, smithandwollensky.co.uk

Goodman Mayfair

With branches in Mayfair, the City and Canary Wharf, there’s no mistaking the target market for this upmarket steak mini chain decked out in dark wood and brown leather, but even if you don’t go to work dressed as Kendall or Shiv Roy, Goodman is a name to know. Beef is aged on site before being cooked in a charcoal grill and allowed to rest; there’s Scottish grass-fed fillet and USDA Angus sirloin and rib-eye and, should the prices make you wince, take a small dollop of comfort from the fact that sauce is included. If you have serious money to burn, speciality cuts are chalked up on a blackboard while the wine list is burnished with the most famous chateaux of Bordeaux and domaines of Burgundy. It sounds like a nightmare of corporate diners on expense accounts but friendly staff mean that the reality is rather more welcoming. If your personal finances don’t stretch to steak, check out the £20 burger: Goodman founder Misha Zelman is also behind Burger & Lobster.

24-26 Maddox Street, W1S 1QH, goodmanrestaurants.com

Blacklock Covent Garden

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Chops not steak are what made this place famous but Blacklock also does a mean line in beef, supplied by the restaurant’s own Cornish herd, which is managed by butcher Philip Warren. The whole animal approach to cooking means some lesser-seen cuts on the menu, dry-aged for 55 days and served up at hard-to-argue prices: Denver steak for £12, rump fillet for £14. Elsewhere are pork-belly buns, a gravy boat at every elbow and a truly fabulous white chocolate cheesecake. Wine is served on tap while on Sundays a drinks trolley has Negronis and old fashioneds poured from decanters with the roast lunches. This new Covent Garden branch, Blacklock’s fourth and is biggest yet, feels a world away from the dive-bar vibe of the Soho original but what it lacks in authentic character it makes up for in knowing you can bring a second date here and not have them turn on their heel before they’ve made it down the stairs.

16a Bedford Street, WC2E 9HE, theblacklock.com

Boisdale of Belgravia

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But for a couple of errant vowels, Ranald Macdonald may have found himself the mascot of a more global chain; instead, the heir apparent to the chief of Clan Macdonald of Clanranald is the founder and face of this group of tartan-clad restaurants so ostentatiously Scottish, a kilt should be part of the dress code. Yet Boisdale is much more than an Angus Steakhouse for posh people; nightly live jazz, walk-in humidors for cigars on the terrace and an excellent selection of (Scotch) whisky place the emphasis on fun rather than fine dining, while beef is one of several prime ingredients from north of the border which also include Dunkeld smoked salmon, pickled Orkney herrings and Dumfriesshire haggis. The steak comes as fillet, rib-eye, côte de boeuf and châteaubriand, and prepare to do your most convincing Sean Connery-style roll of your ‘r’s when you order the thrice-cooked chips.

15 Eccleston Street, SW1W 9LX, boisdale.co.uk

Sushisamba

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While all Kobe beef is wagyu beef, not all wagyu qualifies as Kobe. This ultra-exclusive variety of wagyu can only come from a breed of cattle called Tajima, bred under strict rules in Hyōgo prefecture, of which Kobe is the capital. What’s more, to sell Kobe beef, restaurants must be certified by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and only a handful of London restaurants have the necessary paperwork (including M, Hot Stone and Kai). None, however, has as spectacular a view as Sushisamba on the 38th floor of the Heron Tower, where City boys and girls can blow their bonus on Kobe beef served two ways: ishiyaki-style on a hot stone (£129) or as rib-eye from the robata grill (£144). If you’d rather slather your steak in sauce, there’s T-bone with chimichurri for a marginally more affordable £90.

110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY, sushisamba.com

Nutbourne

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Lots of restaurants pay lip service to the idea of field-to-fork but Nutbourne is the real deal. Much of the produce comes from the West Sussex farm and vineyard of owners the Gladwin brothers, with anything they can’t produce themselves sourced from British day boats and independent biodynamic farms to supply the zero-waste kitchen. Sussex steak, grilled on a wood-fired barbecue, comes as rump, rib-eye and fillet, with a bone-in rib-eye for two to share, all at reasonable prices and served with chargrilled shallots and a choice of sauce. Extras include a rainbow of veg, while there’s trout gravadlax and truffled Tunworth to start and honeycomb crunchie and frangipane tartlet for pud. Tuesday steak nights, meanwhile, promise a 50 per cent discount on chops and steak. Nutbourne is dog-friendly, too, though perhaps keep your hound away from the terrace and its drop into Ransome’s Dock.

35-37 Parkgate Road, SW11 4NP, nutbourne-restaurant.com

M Threadneedle Street

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M is the initial of Martin Williams, who opened this Square Mile steak palace in 2015, which proved so successful he was invited back to be Gaucho’s CEO four years after departing them in 2015. M, however, is an altogether more upmarket animal, with Mike Reid’s menu comprising of prime cuts of English, American and Argentine steak joined by Japanese Kobe beef and, best of all, Australian Blackmore wagyu, encased in beeswax and aged onsite in a Himalayan salt chamber. Beef this good really needs no accompaniment beyond a sprinkling of salt, but as M is a steak restaurant within spitting distance of the Bank of England, subtlety is one of the few things not on the menu. You might order your meat topped with some Maytag blue cheese or malbec onions, with some XO cabbage on the side and a pot of black garlic aioli for dunking your chips, before ending the evening at the wine tasting table or in the whisky room. Still not flashy enough? Charter M’s glorious motor launch for a steak-fuelled cruise along the Thames.

60 Threadneedle Street, EC2R 8HP, mrestaurants.co.uk

The Guinea Grill

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The front bar of the Guinea is the sort of London pub that tourists dream about, with Young’s on tap, oysters on the shell and one of the capital’s hosts-with-the-mosts in the person of landlord Oisín Rogers. Happily a backstreet location hidden down a pretty mews off Berkeley Square keeps the crowds away but it’s the dining room behind the bar where in-the-know punters head to. Peruse the chiller cabinet of meat while your coat is taken before heading into a tartan-carpeted dining room that looks like a post-war supper club (or 1952, when the restaurant opened), a retro mood amplified by starters of devilled kidneys on toast and prawn cocktail. To follow, there are prize-winning pies, though everyone is here for the dry-aged British beef, with chateaubriand and sirloin, côte de boeuf and rib-eye all delivered by waiters in waistcoats dispensing the dying art of silver service. Side dishes heroically and hilariously include calf’s liver, lamb kidneys and ox heart; on no account, however, order the gargantuan mixed grill unless you want to do your best Mr Creosote impersonation. Do, on the other hand, have a Guinness.

30 Bruton Place, W1J 6NL, theguinea.co.uk

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