We nearly didn’t make it to Moo Grill. It was my colleague Jo’s leaving do, and somehow she’d got it into her head that I am a vegetarian. I’m about as far removed from vegetarianism as you can get so it was quite a bizarre mistake to make. She decided to go to Dishoom, a posh Indian restaurant in Shoreditch, as it had a lot of vegetarian options, but when she was unable to get a booking, spent quite some time searching around for another suitable venue and settled on Mexican. A passing comment about how it would be good for vegetarians, and my polite response along the lines of ‘that’s nice’, made something twig and minutes later an email went out informing the group that because I’m not vegetarian after all, we can go to the restaurant that Jo actually wanted all along – a steakhouse.
It was a mid-week evening so fairly quiet in the restaurant, and we were their last customers – the staff didn’t seem to mind that we were still there at 10pm and in fact service all night was very pleasant and patient, with the waitress not seeming to mind a large group who had had a few drinks taking a long time to order. The restaurant is very small, seating only 30 (though they have three other locations around London). The outside is unprepossessing, with a large red sign and a small doorway nestled between two shop fronts, but inside it has a cosy, even romantic rustic feel with a wood bar and exposed brick walls. The menu is quite colourful and doesn’t suggest this is a particularly posh restaurant – but London has plenty of upmarket, very expensive steakhouses and there is definitely a place for a lower price bracket steak, done well (rather than well done). And this is just that.
The chain is Argentinian, where they know their steak, and starters and desserts also have an Argentinian feel. For example, chorizo or empanadas to start, and flan casero (crème caramel), panqueque (pancakes) or Don Pedro, ice cream with a shot of liqueur. A large part of the main menu consists of gourmet sandwiches – I thought it a shame they didn’t have a separate lunch and dinner menu, but then again, some people might want a sandwich at lunch time while their dining companion wants a steak. There are also dishes including pizza, chicken Milanese, or an aubergine dish for vegetarians (it’s lucky I’m not a vegetarian, as it would have been that or a sandwich or salad). However, everyone in our group went for the steak.
The steak is sold by the 100g, with a 200g minimum – though you can’t have half portions eg 250g. I wasn’t really sure what constituted a decent sized steak so ordered 300g of sirloin, at £7.95 per 100g. It was a fairly substantial steak and some people who had ordered 200g regretted their choice – though with the side orders and starters we had plenty of food. I tried empanadas to start, sharing a ham and cheese and a beef pastry with Jo – at only £2.10/£2.30 they are a bargain, as one makes a decent sized starter and they tasted delicious, particularly the ham and cheese. The steak was cooked to my liking and was very good; the chimichurri mayo with the fries was a nice touch though you do pay an extra £2 for the privilege (ordinary mayo and ketchup are free). None of us made it as far as dessert, perhaps due also to the bottles of very decent red wine we polished off during our meal.
Moo Grill is a little off the main route, about half way between Liverpool Street and Aldgate stations, and it’s nothing fancy – but it has an authentic feel and is worth a visit.