Wednesday, November 14, 2012
I will travel for food. A couple of weeks ago, for example, I flew to Copenhagen to eat steak for two days. But sometimes it’s more convenient to eat in London, which is why I am happy that the steak house I went to in Copenhagen just opened up a new location closer to home. MASH restaurant in London debuted last week, and I was invited to compare the fare to its Danish counterpart.
The restaurant itself was one of the largest I’ve ever been to, and certainly the biggest I’ve seen in London. Red leather booths and big wooden tables spanned a subterranean space the size of a football field (and by that I mean an American football field…MASH is an acronym for Modern American Steak House, after all). Even the bar was larger than some restaurant dining rooms.
To MASH’s credit, both the bar and the dining room were pretty full when my friend and I arrived. We had a quick drink at the former—a Ginger Highball made with applejack, ginger beer, and lime for me, and a Benedict Arnold consisting of Buffalo Trace bourbon, black tea-infused Benedictine liqueur, sugar, lime juice, and soda for him. Both were light and refreshing ways to start off what we knew would be a heavy meal.
Once at our booth, we settled in for a feast. Starters of MASH Tartare and fried squid with chili and lime were the first treat of the evening. The beef was presented beautifully with a mohawk of delicate chips on top. The flavor was no less appealing. Tender and delicate, it melted in our mouths.
The squid was equally appetizing. Delicate white parcels of calamari were offset by their crisp, crunchy shells. The dipping sauce had just the right balance of creaminess and spice, and together they were an amazing pair.
The wine came between the starter and the mains. It was a Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007 that the sommelier picked out for us. The combination of MASH’s reputation for having a great selection of American wines and my weakness for California Cabs made it a good choice. Big and heavy on the dark fruits, it was a great wine to pair with steak.
Which is what we had next. Both of us went for the bone-in ribeye, mine corn-fed American beef from near Omaha, and his 70-day dry aged beef from Denmark. Mine was perfectly juicy and had all of the flavor that American beef is known for. His was the more gamy style of the Danish beef that I ate in Copenhagen, and every bit as good.
With them came a side of fries and a pot of the famous MASH Bearnaise Sauce that I fell in love with in Denmark. The fries were a bit hard for my liking, but the sauce was a dream. Thick and creamy, it was the perfect thing to slather my steak with.
After said steak was finished, our server came back with dessert menus. Throughout the meal, he had been a great source of both knowledge and entertainment—he knew all about the various styles of beef, from Uruguayan to Australian Wagyu—and wasn’t afraid to make a few jokes along the way.
I didn’t need to look at the menu to know what I wanted: the cheesecake. After eating several in Copenhagen, I was hooked. The London MASH had a slightly different recipe, as the cheese they used in Denmark couldn’t be sourced here, but the end result was the same. The strawberries on top were a bit saccharine for my taste, but the rich, moist cheesecake and crumbly crust were divine.
Needless to say, we were full at the end of the meal. After waiving good-bye to our server and sommelier, we headed up to the street and decided to keep walking. Past the Piccadilly Circus tube. Past the Green Park tube. And past all of the rest of them until we parted ways to walk home.
I was still so full when I arrived at my flat that I probably could have walked from London to Denmark before I felt hungry again. Which may not have been a bad idea. I do travel for food, after all, and there are more MASH restaurants there.