81 St John’s Road, Battersea, SW11 1QY, www.roxiesteak.co.uk
Good old steak. Simple, dependable, delicious. An easy to cook, best served with the minimum of fuss meal. Hot chips and a fresh green salad to one side. Why then do so many restaurants struggle to cook a decent steak, including those that claim it as their speciality?
I’m no expert on steak, but ‘I likes wot I likes’ and have experienced frequent disappointment in London, and further afield, chewing down on scandalously priced hunks of cold, poorly cooked, poorly sourced meat, all the while thinking of steaks, purchased for a fifth of the price, that I’ve cooked better myself.
t was with trepidation, then, that I approached Roxie Steak. It’s a restaurant I’d heard nothing about and when it comes to steak, one of the most trumpeted foods by my foodie and non-foodie friends alike, it’s a worry not to have any expectations based on prior recommendations.
Passion for steak is something that Roxie Steak have. Not in the fist-thumping, arm-waving, stuff-it-down-your-throat, man-on-the-soap-box style of passion, but a mellow, understated passion that’s clear from their food.
The branch of Roxie in Clapham (they have others in Earlsfield, Putney, and Fulham – colours firmly nailed to the mast of South West London) is a small blink and you’ll miss it sort of a place, with a clean, red-boothed interior and a friendly attentive staff. The menu is small too, the focus clear – meat, and plenty of it.
Slap bang in the middle of that A4 sheet is a half kilo of flesh with accompanying sides: The Beast. For £15 that’s a meat-feast rivalling Bodeans for value. The steak sits quietly to one side of the menu, perhaps overshadowed by its bigger redder meat platter brothers. Look closer though and you’re in for a surprise. Do your eyes deceive you? 7oz fillet steak for £13.95?! That’s either insanity or a misprint – thankfully it’s the former.
That’s right. A steak, of the fillet variety, for under £15. Throw in some fries and a drink, and you have steak and chips for less than £20. Can you do better in London? I doubt it.
Of course, price only becomes value with substance – and Roxie’s fillet has substance by the bucketload. A thick, healthy fillet, charred on the outside, cooked pink on the inside. The serrated knife bites through the first layer, leaving a jagged, torn skin, and sinks quickly through the velvet smooth inner. Chew and melt, chew and melt, chew and melt and the steak is gone. Simple. Delicious. Steaktastic.
A slight disappointment are the chips. Cooked from plastic, they’re hot, crunchy, fluffy and not pre-salted (a massive tick!), but they’re also not hand cut. I can see the merit in that from a £ decision. Freezer space comes in cheaper than the hours spent potato chipping. The finished product, though, is all the greater for time spent on the delicate craft of homemade chip manufacture. A sweeter chip, a better chip, one carrying love and affection.
It’s hair splitting, perhaps. Roxie’s is sign-posted as a destination for steak, not chips, and it’s a sign-post that burns brightly for a good reason. A higher quality, higher value steak, you are unlikely to find in the capital.