Sunday, 19 June 2016

Beefbar - tasty food but small portions for lunch

Worth the wait?  

A good question!

I'd been trying to get into the Beefbar in Central for a while.  I'd ring up to try to make a booking, only to be told that they were completely booked up.  The few times I'd taken the chance of a walk in resulted in an almost comical response from the Beefier 'gate keepers'.

And that's how I'd started to think about the phone booking team, as well as the door staff; gate keepers.  Getting in became insurmountable and I eventually gave up and forgot about trying to get in.

It wasn't until my regular lunch date with a colleague and friend that the prospect of visiting the Beefbar arose again.  When JP suggested visiting, I gave a whimsical 'why not', thinking that it would still be nearly impossible to get into (even six months after opening).  You can imagine my surprise when the reservation was confirmed.

I guess a Monday at lunch might be the perfect time to hit a new(ish) restaurant in this city!

Our lunch date/meeting was at 12 and I'd arrived on time but heard from JP that she'd be a few minutes late after finishing a meeting in head office.  I was cool with that, it gave me the opportunity to 'sticky-beak' around the place once I'd arrived at the eerily familiar front desk (yeah, I'd tried to get in a few times!)

Originating in Monaco in the harbor town of Monte-Carlo, the Beefbar is a concept restaurant that now spans the globe with outlets in many of the world's 'glamour' cities.  The first thing you notice when stepping out of the lift is the elegant entrance to the Beefbar and a very simple cursive logo in gold.  There was an air of understated opulence as I was taken to my table, marble and black leather dominated the interior with fabulous looking wine fridges built into the decor to form eye catching feature walls.

Looking over my menu, the daily lunchtime set took on a very international feel, with the half dozen or so options named after international cities.  The idea being that the three courses would represent the typical food originating from that city.  The Barcelona menu featured roasted octopus with black olives and candied pepper drops with the Milano option including homemade tagliolini with porcini, caper leaves and nutmeg.

You get the idea.

I had started to munch on the toasted panini served with a fairly benign olive oil by the time JP arrived and had pretty much made up my mind on which of the internationally themed lunch offerings I was leaning towards.  It only took JP a fraction of the time it had taken me to decide and before long lunch was underway.

Paris had been JP's city of choice, which meant that her starter was the beef tartare with mushrooms and a fontina cheese dressing.  The plating looked very elegant and classic, with one glaring exception; there was no quail or chicken egg yolk adorning the crown of the tartare.  I love dining with JP, she is very generous when indulging my need to taste food, it meant that I sampled a fair chunk of the tartare.  The beef was diced nicely with the usual assortment of condiment mixed in already.  The gherkin and onion flavour prominent with the well seasoned meat.  While there had been no egg yolk with the beef, the fontina cheese dressing provided the creamy texture and was a very suitable replacement.  It was a lovely beef tartare.  

I'd decided that a trip to Tokyo was in order, with the starter coming from that most famous of Japanese islands; Hokkaido.  My Hokkaido scallop carpaccio was again beautifully presented and looked incredibly fresh.  The plating was interesting with the bowl being the perfect shape to hold the thinly slicked scallops that were bathed in a red / orange chilli oil dressing and topped with beetroot leaves for garnish.  Phew, I wasn't expecting the punch from the chilli oil and while it might have been a great choice for some, it dominated the subtle flavour of the scallops.  I just lost that sweetness that fresh scallops provide, which was a shame really; they were so fresh!

We were back in Paris for JP's main of 'the farmed French chicken'.  The French are famous for their chicken and I can testify to having some of the most amazing chicken of my life on my numerous visits to Paris.  Presented simply in a cast iron plate, the chicken was simply presented on its own but accompanied by some French Fries.  The golden colouring of the chicken was just perfect and contrasted warmly against the black of the cast iron.  The chicken was cooked very well, remaining moist and full of flavour, but I did notice that there was not that much meat provided in the serving and JP did struggle to extract all of that sweet flesh (as a consequence, I only sampled a smaller bite!).  I did help JP finish off the fries though, which were quite superb.

It was the Kagoshima beef rib-eye that had caught my eye and steered me in the direction of Tokyo for my main.  Also presented in a cast iron plate with a small mound of wasabi next to an even smaller pile of sea salt.  Yum, the fatty beef had been cooked beautifully and was full of a robust meaty flavour that lingered on my palate for ages.  The fat had been rendered well, which was lucky since the whole rib-eye seemed to consist of that delicious fat.  Mmmmmmm!  Accompanying my beef was a simple mash potato served in a small copper pot to the side; it was OK, but paled in comparison to the beef.

Dessert deviated from the international theme but there were two options with all of the 'destinations', a chocolate ice cream bar, or a strawberry salad with yoghurt ice-cream.  We both selected the latter.

With plates that again seemed purpose designed, a bed of fresh macerated strawberries were topped with a scoop of yoghurt ice-cream that was not overly sweet on it's own, but when combined with the sweet strawberries was great.  It was a simple dessert of 'strawberries and cream' that was a perfect way to finish a meal.  

It was interesting, given how hard I'd found Beefbar to get into originally, it was only half full during my lunch visit.  Did we just luck out on a quiet day, or has the initial buzz of the Beefbar died down a little?  Probably a question I'd only be able to answer by trying my luck again on a Friday night!

Given the pedigree of the restaurant, I was suitably impressed with the service, which was professional and unobtrusive; my water was topped up at all times and I didn't really notice that it was happening.  Wait staff were professionally attired and worked like a well oiled machine.

I definitely loved the Beefbar as a lunchtime destination, it wasn't overly busy, the service was good and the food enjoyable.  I'm still to find out what the place is like for dinner, but they have this signature tasting menu that looks pretty nice.  It's got all the items that get me excited; milk fed veal tartare and beef tataki just a couple that really excite me.

Seemingly, I'll have to keep trying for a Friday night dinner reservation.  Maybe I'll book a month out and see how I go!

I'm sure it will be worth the wait :)

Tasty beef and a fatty flavour that was delicious: but
Mains were on the small side;  There was not much chicken for a main!
Tables made out of marble added to the luxurious feel of the dining room
Professionally dressed well trained wait staff;  but, there were a lot of free tables!
Wine fridges formed part of the decor
Beefbar; born in Monte-Carlo


  1. The food looks pretty amazing but I am not a fan of having meals presented in the pans. I love that site called We want plates! So funny. I remember we went to a large hotel restaurant early one evening with virtually no one in it and were turned away. Maybe they didn't like the look of us:)

    1. I haven't seen, will have to have a look, sounds funny. Haha, that happens so much in HK if you don't have a booking - weird.


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