MASH, 77 Brewer Street, London W1F 9ZN
When we first reserved a table at MASH we had visions of a whole section on the menu specialising in mashed spud. Wrong! MASH actually stands for Modern American Steak House, although steakhouse is one word. We assume that MAS didn’t sound as good so they applied a bit of artistic licence.
And that’s not the only misleading fact about its name. The restaurant isn’t an American import, it is from Denmark. They’ve brought over their style of steak and even some extremely friendly and efficient front of house staff.
Situated on the corner of Brewer Street and Lower James Street, on the lower ground floors of the former Regent Palace Hotel (where the Titanic restaurant once was). The entrance of this beautiful newly renovated building is very understated compared to what follows.
Our coats and bags were left at the first reception on the ground floor and we made our way down a huge suspended staircase to reception No 2. A little tip, take the stairs down but take the lift back up!
Once our names were taken we were shown through to the dining hall, And it is a hall, a massive cavernous room that can seat 350. There are a couple of private dining rooms as well, one more secluded that seats 18 and one sectioned off within the main hall that seats as many as 24.
The name may say Modern American Steak House but the interior is plush art deco. Red leather booths (of various sizes) fill a majority of the restaurant. Thick ornate gold and dark wood pillars and decorative mirrors feature prominently, as do the oh-so-cool open wine cellars and the gleaming bar that takes centre stage,
Talking of wine, their list is extensive – 26 pages extensive, with a wine to suit every budget (well nearly). The list starts in the USA and works its way around the globe anticlockwise, from South America, to Australia and on to the old world. There’s a good selection of wines available by the glass, ranging from £4. The menu has a small cocktail list also, although the full selection can be ordered at the bar.
Back to the menu, it’s not exactly a short menu but it’ not one where you have to study it for hours. All the starters are, for some reason, all priced at £10 (except the half grilled lobster, £18) Steaks at various prices, sides and vegetables are £4.50 and all the desserts (except the ice-cream and sorbet which are priced per scoop) are priced at a staggering £10 too. Steak is obviously the main reason for coming but they have and good selection of fish and lamb dishes too.
As we pondered over the cocktails, our waitress explained their different styles of steak. And boy did she know her onions, or should that be her cows? All styles of steak were from free-range cattle the difference was all about origin and the length and style of ageing. Take a look on the menu for the differences although we love the sound of the Wagyu ‘Kobe style’ beef where the cattle are pampered! They are brushed and treated to a high carb diet – talk about being a spoilt cow.
Our cocktails arrived, I had the MASH signature Margarita and Saff the Cider Smash, both £9.50. My Margarita was sharp and refreshing with the eucalyptus syrup adding a touch of sweetness. In Saff’s drink you could initially taste the citrus and mint before the apple cider breaks through. She commented that it tasted like an apple Mojito, no wonder she found it so easy to drink.
After munching our way through the delicious sea salt crusted bread our starters were served. We shared a couple of dishes, the Charcuterie platter (salami, Serrano ham, a slither of foie gras terrine with a delicious fatty orangey top and an individual ham hock terrine) and Fried squid with chilli and lime. The squid was top draw, a crisp and non-greasy golden batter and a spicy chilli seasoning that sneaks up on you like a ninja assassin! Luckily the mayo and fresh lime is on hand to cool things down. The little dish of gherkins and mustard alongside the charcuterie were a nice touch.
Once our table was cleared a butcher’s block trolley was wheeled over to our table and, for a bit of added theatre, our waitress carved our steaks in front of us as we took photos of her, poor woman. We decided to share a couple of steaks, the Uruguay NY strip, £28 for approx 250g, and the Danish Dry Aged ribeye, £30 for approx 300g.
The NY strip was tender and moist, a perfectly good steak with that slightly sweet taste of younger cattle. But, and this is a massive but, that was completely blown out of the cow shed by the full flavour of the Danish style steak. The meat is hung in a refrigerated room on display in the restaurant for a whopping 70 days. Over this time the meat loses around 25% of its moisture. We’re not too sure of the science behind this, we just know that it makes the steak tastes amazing. It’s as if the flavour has been concentrated, each mouthful of steak packs a double meaty punch. We’ve never tasted steak like it.
The sides are good too. The batter on the Onion rings £4.50 was crisp and dry, not soggy, wet and greasy as they can be. The Sweetcorn with bacon £4.50 was simple yet delicious. Our top pick was the Mash with onions and crispy bacon £4.50, the potato was whipped into the lightest fluffiest mash. The only downside was the teeny portions. We decided against fries as we’d heard they weren’t great. They didn’t look too bad when we saw some go past. Maybe a little like the thin brown thin-skinned variety with no crunch.
Deserts were a little of an anti-climax, maybe because we were full, maybe because they weren’t overly imaginative. We needn’t have worried though, Saff’s Creme Brûlée £10 was perfect apart from the caramel crust, she didn’t think it was thick and crunchy enough (she always thinks that). The bonus addition of a mango sorbet chaser was most welcome, but still didn’t amount to the £10 price tag. I played really safe and had a scoop each of Chocolate ice-cream and Peanut ice-cream by Jacob & Jakob £5. OK, OK, I was trying to create a Snickers style dessert. The peanut flavour was a little subtle but the chocolate ice-cream really captured that burnt, slightly bitter taste of a 70% cocoa chocolate.
A nice little touch at the end were the after dinner cocktails. I went retro and had a MASH Kentucky Coffee £9, their take on an Irish coffee. Made with bourbon and a Spanish vanilla liquor whisked into the cream. Saff ordered a Gottlieb’s Favourite £9.75, a cocktail made with rye whisky, cherry wine, chocolate bitters and beer. Very random yet it worked.
We also loved the little envelope containing the bill that had DAMAGE stamped on it. Talking of damage, it’s quite easy to rack-up a big bill here – a bill to rival that of the Hawksmoor. Oops I mentioned the H word, I was trying not to mention them, but when reviewing a steakhouse it’s hard to avoid. MASH‘s steak, decor and service is defiantly equitable, if only they up their game with their desserts, then the Hawksmoor could have a fight on their hands… Going back to the prices, we noticed the pre and post theatre menu prices are less frightening, £25 for three courses.
… And yes we did take the lift back up to street level, there was no way we could have carried our steak filled bellies up all those stairs! Next week we’re off to sample the ‘female friendly’ (whatever that means) STK, we wonder how they rate in the latest round in the battle of London’s steak restaurants?
77 Brewer Street, London W1F 9ZN
Telephone 0207 734 2608
Opening hours (lunch): Monday – Saturday 11:30 – 15:00
Opening hours (dinner): Monday – Saturday 17:00 – 23:30. Sunday 17:00 – 23:00
Book a table here
Nearest tube Piccadilly Circus