25 July 2008
Black and Blue
1-2 Rochester Walk
Borough Market, SE1
020 7357 9922
AVERAGE OFFERINGS AT A STYLISH STEAK HOUSE
Top picture by M. Franke
SITUATED BANG in the middle of Borough Market with a large model cow outside, it is very difficult to miss the Black and Blue steakhouse, writes Jon Surtees...
As such, it is very much what I would class as an ‘aspirational’ restaurant. This is not because the place itself aspires to anything much – but due to its location and exterior design, many passers by will remember it and file it in the mental ‘Places I’d like to Eat’ list.
This may sound like a good thing; sadly the truth is far from it. Restaurants like this are often prone to laziness, safe in the knowledge that their alluring exterior will forever pack the diners in without them needing overly to concentrate on the food. And on this charge, it must be said that Black and Blue are guilty.
Going down on a relatively busy Monday night, arriving at the restaurant is an unabashed pleasure. The market environment is – obviously – idyllic for a restaurant and, as mentioned, the external design is certainly eye catching.
Walk into the restaurant bar and it is also very pleasant. It appears to be well stocked, is spaciously laid out and looked like a perfectly acceptable place to have a pre-meal drink.
Décor wise, the restaurant itself is also absolutely fine. The booths are comfortable if relatively featureless and the walls are adorned with some pretty bland and inoffensive bovine focused diet pop art.
However, the true test of any restaurant is – somewhat obviously – what ends up on your plate and it is here that Black and Blue begins to struggle.
Whilst a massive choice does not always guarantee quality, the first thing I noticed about Black and Blue were the limited options available on the menu.
In the starter section for instance, there are three separate prawn options, two separate options based around tortilla chips and just four other very run of the mill choices (olives, soup of the day, foie gras and smoked salmon with scrambled egg).
Both myself and my dining partner opted for the soup of the day (£5) – a surprisingly original courgette and brie. The problem here did not lie with the soup – which was excellent – but with the ‘bread roll’ served with it, which was so stale as literally to crack when I put my knife in. The fact it was warm made it even worse, because it had clearly just been thrown into a microwave without being checked.
With the gaff marketing itself as a steak house, it was the next course that was all important – and once again there was a serious problem.
Not with the selection of meat – five different cuts with a number of different weights – not with the sauces – perfectly acceptable – but with the accompanying potatoes. Believe it or not, it is only possible to get chips.
Despite basically offering only meat and fish steaks, burgers, grills and salads on the menu – and being situated in the heart of Borough Market – Black and Blue does not offer mashed potatoes, new potatoes, jacket potatoes or any other kind of spud.
Surely, with one of the widest selections of vegetables in town on its doorstep, the kitchen might find it within itself to broaden the choice from purely chips?
Moving on, the 280g cut of sirloin (£18) was absolutely fine, as was the 280g rib eye (£20) enjoyed by my dining partner. Having said that, I would endorse a comment he made – that it was no better than a steak he could get in a reasonable level pub and a lot more expensive.
Good points: the house wine we had with the meal (a French Syrah) was excellent and very reasonably priced at £14. The dessert – an ice cream sundae – was well presented and given an added bonus by the hidden berries within. The service was attentive, well paced and friendly and the restaurant atmosphere convivial, relaxed and chatty.
However, with the very similar – and thoroughly excellent – Gaucho in the near vicinity, anybody with £35 a head to spend and after an excellent local steak would, in both of our opinion at least, be best served looking elsewhere.
Soup of the Day x 2 £10
280g Sirloin £18
280g Ribeye £20
Ice Cream Sundae £6
Il Paradosso French Syrah £14
FOOD (1-5) 2
AMBIENCE (1-5) 3
PRICE VALUE (1-5) 1.5
DISABLED ACCESS YES
DISABLED TOILET YES
PRE-BOOKING SIX OR MORE
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