Bar + Block Steakhouse, King’s Cross London

Out Of Office Magazine visited Bar + Block in King’s Cross London to sample their steaks and was blown away by the quality of the cuts of meat and customer service

Since King’s Cross’ substantial redevelopment it’s certainly not short of great places to eat and drink. Once an industrial wasteland, it’s now a  busy setting with plenty to see and do.

One of the restaurants we’d recommend is Bar + Block Steakhouse on York Way, a short walk from King’s Cross St Pancras station.

All of the beef comes from cattle reared across the Pampas in South America and is aged for a minimum of 28 days and hand-cut, which means you can have your steak the size you like it.

We opted for a 10oz sirloin and fillet, and shared the sweet potato fries with chorizo, feta and coriander (as well as the beef dripping chunky chips which come as standard!). The chimichurri sauce on the side was a good spicy accompaniment recommended by our friendly, helpful and knowledgeable waiter.

The beef was tender and cooked to perfection (rare for the fillet, medium-rare for the sirloin), and we washed it down with a full bodied bottle of Beefsteak Malbec.

Somehow we found room for dessert. We had the sticky toffee pudding and triple chocolate brownie, which were both delicious and rich. Plus a little extra treat for my guest as the waiter found out it was his birthday and had all the staff sing!

What? A lively restaurant offering a great steakhouse experience. Don’t be fooled though, they also offer up roasts with all the trimmings on Sundays, steak and eggs for breakfast and some tasty fish dishes for lunch and dinner.

Why Choose Bar + Block? If you like steak, a combination of bold flavours and great service – go here.

Cost: ££

26-30 York Way, London, N1 9AA

020 3889 8888

http://www.barandblock.co.uk

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Review: Balans Soho Society, Seven Dials, London

7dials_int_3

Out Of Office Magazine visits the newly opened Balans Soho Society café at Seven Dials

This recently opened venue on Monmouth Street is the sixth location in the Balans family and modelled on the Soho café style. It’s simple, sleek, bistro style is clean and cosy – much like our seat specially reserved for us in the corner of the restaurant.

Also like our visit to the Kensington restaurant, the staff were friendly, attentive and well-informed about the variety of food and drink on offer. We also learnt that, like the Kensington restaurant, a staff member had left for an adventure and landed back at Balans a few years later – it seems they are a good employer with employees only enthusiastic to return.

We started with the seared scallops – perfectly cooked but a small portion that left you wanting a little more – plus the lamb pastilla, which was filling and tender. For our mains, we opted for the 10 oz sirloin steak cooked medium rare and the Cornish crab linguine that certainly didn’t skimp on the chilli!

Too full for dessert we stayed for another glass of malbec and merlot, happy in our surroundings. While we relaxed, a waiter dropped a full tray of glasses but the staff took it in their stride with a smile. (Very unlucky considering they had just opened!)

What? A great addition to the Balans Soho Society collection. Close to Covent Garden, Shaftesbury Avenue and Leicester Square.

Why choose Balans? Nice for for a planned brunch, lunch or dinner out, or a spur of the moment occasion. The menu is varied with international influences and changes regularly.

Cost: ££

32-34 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials, London, WC2H 9HA

020 7836 2982

www.balans.co.uk

Review: Gaucho Piccadilly

Gaucho
Out Of Office reviews Gaucho Piccadilly – one of London’s best steak restaurants for any occasion

Walking into Gaucho, it’s dark, sleek, chic and stylish. You’re greeted by friendly and professional receptionists, and as they take your coats and point you to the restaurant upstairs they are super apologetic about the current state of affairs. The restaurant may be undergoing a major  refurbishment downstairs, but it doesn’t impact the experience.

Like all the Gaucho restaurants the decor is a mixture of black, chrome and cow skin. The music is muted and cool, and and the chandeliers and bottles of booze make the place shine. It feels like a special location and, when the wine and dishes come out, it only gets better.

We kicked off our Gaucho experience with two gin cocktails – a Yerba 10 and an Alvear Royal – before embarking on a journey through the wine.

Oh the wine, well where do we begin? The wine list itself is an impressive booklet and one my guest was tempted to take away as bedtime reading. It’s detailed, informative and rather large because every Gaucho offers a bespoke range of Argentinian wine. From the crisp white Torrentés to the full bodied Malbec – you will find a superb mix, all hand-picked and many unavailable anywhere else. It’ not surprise that Gaucho offer a case service so that you can enjoy your new favourite wine at home.

On to the food. For starters we had a crab tostada and a tuna ceviche, each trying a different Torrentés as recommended by our seasoned waitress.

Followed by this was the main event, the steak. We had 300g of Lomo (fillet) and 300g of Ancho (rib eye), both cooked perfectly to our liking (medium rare, of course). Accompanying the beef were beef dripping chips, spinach and flat mushrooms finished with peppercorn sauce. The steak was so tender and juicy, and the sides so moreish we never wanted it to end. (In fact, my guest had a tear in his eye when his plate was cleared!)

Feeling blissfully content and yet too curious to pass up on having something sweet, we opted for the chocolate truffles and another glass of Malbec to round things off.

What? An Argentinian steakhouse around 5-10 minutes walk form Piccadilly Station. There are also locations across London, Dubai and Hong Kong. There are vegetarian options on the menu to, but the most extensive choices exist for wine and steak.

Why choose Gaucho Piccadilly? This is Gaucho’s flagship restaurant in London. The venue is welcoming, stylish and historical – it was once the home of a Spanish Ambassador and the small private dining room (perfect for meetings or small celebrations) has an impressive tiled wall.  A relatively new introduction to the menu is the business lunch, which our readers should certainly sample.

Also every Gaucho venue is perfect for private functions, whether it’s a standing reception or a formal awards ceremony the team are adept at tailoring and creating a bespoke service for clients.

While the venue is undergoing a nip and tuck (new downstairs to be unveiled soon) the experience is not interrupted. However, we are looking forward to being invited back and reporting an update once the work is finished…

Cost: £££

25 Swallow Street, London, W1B 4QR
020 7734 4040
www.gauchorestaurants.com

 

Review: Brasserie Blanc, Bath

Brasserie Blanc Bath

Out Of Office visits Brasserie Blanc, a brasserie set in a Georgian building serving a classically French menu devised by celebrity chef Raymond Blanc

We kicked off our leisurely lunch at Brasserie Blanc in historic Bath by bagging a window seat, the perfect spot for people watching from the corner of pretty Queen’s Square where the restaurant is situated.

From the very beginning of our lunch the service was top notch – the staff were polite and courteous and nothing was too much trouble.

To start we opted for the mediterranean fish soup with the garlic and saffron rouille, croutons and grated cheese. It was a large portion; incredibly rich yet moreish and set the standard for the rest of the meal.

For mains the boeuf bourguignon came highly recommended and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The beef was tender and was accompanied by a deliciously smooth mash and red wine sauce. The duck with blackberry sauce with dauphinoise potato was also utter perfection – the meat was rich and crispy on the outside.

To finish we chose the caramel soufflé with rum and raisin ice cream. The dish took 15 minutes to prepare but worth the wait. The trio of chocolate desserts from the Valentines set menu were also divine – and very generous, as are all the beautifully prepared desserts.

What? This is authentic French food at its best. Decent prices, a welcoming décor and fantastic service make it a top chain restaurant.

Why choose Brasserie Blanc? The smart and modern restaurant with warm and welcoming staff is the perfect place for a leisurely lunch or dinner.

Cost: ££

6-12 Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HH
01225 303860
www.brasserieblanc.com

Review: Cubana, Smithfield

cubana

Out Of Office Magazine reviews Cubana near Farringdon Station

Cubana is lively bar, kitchen and coffee spot that has recently opened in Smithfield.

On arrival the open plan bar and kitchen was buzzing with live salsa music adding to the feel good Friday night vibe.

We kicked off our experience with cocktails – classic mojito and a strawberry daiquiri, followed by a selection of tapas and desserts. Other than the delicious cocktails, the highlights were the prawns in light tempura batter and the quirky range of ice creams (we tried banana and chilli chocolate).

Unfortunately the freshly baked artisan bread had run out so we didn’t get to sample that – clearly it’s very popular!

What? A casual bar and kitchen serving street food, cocktails and fragrant coffees. Easy to forget that you’re not on a beach in Cuba while you’re here!

Why choose Cubana? A good choice for those working in or around Farringdon if you’re looking for a casual, yet quirky, destination for lunch, dinner and/or drinks. It also makes a welcome change from the run-of-the-mill chain coffee shops in the day time.

Cost: ££

59 Charterhouse St, London EC1M 6HA
07496 327 076
www.cubana.co.uk