UNLESS you have a company expense account, own a gym or are Westminster politician, a cheeky bit of rump is not something you can expect to come across every night.
A great steak is a rare - or even medium rare - thing of beauty. The butcher, the hang, the cut, the prep, the blasting searing heat and the resting time all defining the deal.
And while it takes a lot of trial and error, it is actually possible for an amateur - even you - to cook competent steak and chips. Trust me. (Well maybe don’t. Not with 2lbs of boiling beef dripping spitting out of a chip pan at 180C on a Saturday night sitting next to a drained bottle of Rioja.)
Yet when it’s done properly by a professional kitchen there’s no bigger treat than a steak, thumping down onto a table that isn’t yours.
When it doesn't go so well - and it didn't in four of the places we tried (Grilla, TOBS, NYL and District House) - you’re saddled with only a big bill, regrets and jaw ache.
So that you don’t throw your good hard earned after bad, Confidential sneaked into 14 places in Liverpool who stand or fall on their ability to produce a decent steak.
We tried fillets, rumps, ribeyes and some speciality cuts over a wide range of price points while flaying the company credit card alive.
In no particular order, these are the ones we'd point you to with a clear conscience - all delivered a perfect medium rare, all scoring 8/10 or above.
Now bring on the vegetable gruel.
The attitude steak: Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill
Cote de boeuf (24oz, £61 for two, main image above). Chateaubriand (16oz, £56 for two, below)
YOU might regard these as a special occasion cuts, but not if there are two of you. And who, except the plain weird, wants to embark on this stunning Cote de Boeuf (main image, top) alone?
Grass fed in Scotland by Duke of Buccleuch farmers, matured and cooked on the bone the Cote is finished in the oven and its distinctive flavour will have both of you singing like Frank and Nancy Sinatra all week. On an earlier occasion we tried the Chateubriand (pictured), similarly priced, completely different and equally impressive.
Whatever your view of MPW, the current grill cooking is among the best in town. Not forgetting the fluffy crunchy triple fried chips which are so golden and comely you’d wonder if they’d just stepped out of Tan-a-Reef.
Indigo Hotel, 10 Chapel Street, Liverpool L3 9AG. 0151 559 0555. Website
Steak and atmosphere: MEET Argentinian Steakhouse
Medallion De Lomo (£21.95)
BEEF is the dish of the alpha male (they think) and you will find this newly extended place accommodating Latinos on both sides of the service. Which, with the south American decor, gives it a certain ambience not commonly found in the city centre any more.
With a bewildering array of cuts, weights and permutations on the menu, cast your eyes over this juicy Medallon De Lomo (£21.95): a 10 oz fillet done on the charcoal parilla giving it that seared caramelised outer flavour you’ll never replicate in a domestic kitchen.
Add piquant Argentinian chimichurri and heavy, creamy bearnaise (£2.25). Unexceptional chips but plenty of ‘em! A juicy Etchart Malbec £23 was the glug of choice.
50 Brunswick Street, Liverpool, L2 0PL 051 258 1816. Website
The steak with the Edge: Delifonseca Dockside
Edge & Son Hereford Ribeye (£20.95).
ALTHOUGH it's only on the changing blackboard menu, there is a good chance that chef Marc Lara will readily cook you a steak at delifonseca Dockside if he's in the mood. That's because the people who slaughter and butcher the locally reared, grass fed cattle, have a shop on the other side of the floor in this unique setting at Brunswick Dock. So there's always a supply.
Callum Edge & Son have just scooped the runner up title as UK Butcher of the Year . The Delifonseca Dockside kitchen has won so many awards that it's become a given. So what could possibly go wrong? Nothing.Keeping the eco footprint to a minimum, this loose grained and flavour filled prince arrived with some of the chubbiest and most moreish chips in the list, intense field mushroon, sweet roasted cherry tomatoes and crispy fresh leaves picked on the Wirral. All just over 20 quid and all deeply satisfying.
Brunswick Dock, Liverpool L3 4BN - For Satnav use L8 5SN 0151 255 0303. Website
Steak on the waterfront. Malmaison Brasserie
Black Angus grain fed ribeye (£26)
THERE was a time when the Malmaison Brasserie was the ONLY place in town you could guarantee a super steak. But as this list shows, the city’s dining out expectations have risen sharply in 10 years. But the good news is the Mal still has it. This was everything we could hope for. Beautifully cooked, lush marbling, it comes with stick fries and an interesting slow roast onion full of soubise sauce - a puree of onions, bechamel and cream - so not real need to order anything else on the side, which also makes it great value. And then there’s that pretty view.
7 William Jessop Way, L3 1QZ. 0151363 3640 Website
Steak and leatherette: CAU
Tira De Ancho (£33.50)
CAU is concept Meet - with white leatherette - and promises grass fed beef from the Argentinian Pampas - at a premium. A traditional 8oz ribeye emerged rather puny on a first visit so we went back and sunk our teeth into the biggest bugger on the menu. This whole, spiral cut, Tira De Ancho (£33.50 for 500g), is a juicy garland. Marinated in more of that zesty chimichurri, and grilled on the Inka, this is the likely choice of flesh eating hombres with a point to prove.
Unless you like writhing around in the early hours - and not in a good way - it’s probably not one for tackling late at night.
3–7 Castle Street, Liverpool, L2 4SW. 0151 227 1818. Website
The back-of-the-net steak: Vincent Cafe Bar and Restaurant
8oz Ribeye (£24.50)
IF you want to know what a Premiership footballer goes to work on then look no further. And plenty of people evidently do, which is perhaps why this smart looking business district venue, partly owned by Stevie G, warns of a dress and good behaviour code on its website.
If you pass muster and make it into the Vincent’s restaurant you won’t want to miss one of these gorgeous, succulent babes - and we're not talking about the customers with the Cricket bags.
Walker House, Exchange Flags, Liverpool, L2 3YL. 0151 236 1331. Website
Steak and a flourish: San Carlo
35-day dry aged sirloin
WHATEVER your reason for visiting San Carlo - the theatrical waiters, the Lambourghini-loving clientele or the Italian job lot of pasta and pizza in a still-quite-lavish setting - it might not be the most obvious port of call when only a steak will do. But the wood and charcoal grill produces everything from big beast tomahawks to this pretty faultless specimen which was packed with bully flavour and that pleasing, searing taste sensation, all soothed by a beauty of a bearnaise flecked with tarragon.
41 Castle Street, L2 9SH. 0151 236 0073. Website
The partygoers’ steak: Neighbourhood
Fillet steak - £28.
THE handsome banking hall has been glammed up with neon for the 21st century with neon and cocktail fuelled people dancing on the tables at the weekend. If that's you thing, bag a booth and shmooze while this very agreeable melt in the mouth fillet goes down, nice n easy. Skinny fries are included, the sauces will cost you £2.50 more, but if that’s a problem you probably won’t be staying for long anyway. A huge punchy Terrazaz malbec (£49) was the medicine go help it all down in, as they say, the most delightful way.
62 Castle Street, L2. 7LQ. 0151 230 1717. Website
The best deal in town steak: 60 Hope Street
8oz steak, normally rump, with “chef’s accompaniments” and a glass of red wine, for £15. Mondays from 5pm, in restaurant and lounge.
THE steak, on this occasion sirloin, was flawlessly cooked; the outer charry and crusty, the inner precisely rare-as-requested, red in tooth and claw. Full flavoured, meaty but not tough. Chips were every bit as good, soft and floury under a crunchy, dry-as-a-bone surface. Other “chef’s accompaniments” were a couple of good, squish-free field mushrooms and two halves of tomato brought to life with a scattering of finely chopped garlic. A jug of creamy, piquant peppercorn sauce finished off a pretty perfect, stunningly good value, plateful.
60 Hope Street, Liverpool, L1 9BZ. 0151 707 6060. Website
The standout steak: Restaurant Bar and Grill
Rangers Valley Ribeye (300g/500g) £29.00/£39.00
A RECENT reconnoitre to RGB’s new sister restaurant, The Opera Grill, in Chester, gave us good reason to rediscover this stalwart of Brunswick Street after too long an absence. And parent company Individual Restaurants are certainly taking the whole steak thing with the utmost seriousness these days, sourcing grass fed, long bred and aged beef from the ranches of Australia, New Zealand and United States with no fewer than 13 choices on the grill menu.
Here, pure bred, 100 percent Angus is raised for 270 days on a corn diet in New England, Australia, then dry aged for 35 days. The +3 marble score would make Michaelangelo blush. Crisp n dry chips and a rich, creamy Diane sauce sealed the deal. Special shout out for the unmissable sides: char-grilled broccoli with chilli and garlic and the roasted field mushrooms filled with garlic, parsley and crumbs (both £4).
Halifax House, Brunswick Street, Liverpool, L2 0UU 0151 236 6703. Website
Please note: All Liverpool Confidential reviews are paid for by the company, never the restaurant or a PR outfit. Critics dine unannounced and their opinions are completely independent of any commercial relationships.