'All in all, it was a decent but unremarkable affair'

London Steakhouse Co.

Open Mon–Thu midday–3pm and 5.30pm–10.30pm, Fri–Sun midday–10.30pm

You’ve probably heard of mirages. They’re those optical illusions that appear out in the desert when conditions are just right—where the light refractions make you see something that’s not there, like a lake or a city. Once you follow them, however, you quickly find that they’re not quite what you were expecting. If you’ll forgive the hackneyed analogy, I think it’s fair to say that a lot of London restaurants are, in a sense, mirages. You look in through the window, or at the menu, and you might see a fancy place and some expensive food, but that doesn’t guarantee you quality by a long shot. It’s an important lesson to learn.

The London Steakhouse Company, one of two branches in the city owned by legendary chef Marco Pierre White, is a very fancy place. In fact, it’s a beautiful place: intimate but not small and upmarket but not decadent. It’s not exactly cheap dining, either—a steak (and come on, it’s a steak you’re probably there for) will set you back 20 to 30 quid minimum, and that’s without a side. The vibe is nigh-on perfect and the staff are wonderful. The problem is, does all that mean it’s good?

Getting into it: my watercress and pea soup (£7) was capably-made, suitably fresh—the watercress came through just enough to complement—and the addition of a poached egg was a nice touch. My guest’s beetroot salad with goat’s cheese and walnut (£9) was also strong, albeit a dish that’s difficult to get too wrong. I’m tempted to take issue with the pricing of the starters in particular; they were well-prepared, but lacking somewhat when it comes to bang-for-buck ratio.

Obviously, the steak takes centre stage. My 12oz sirloin (£27) was a little tough around the bone, suitably rare and very salty indeed—I can’t fault a well-salted steak out of personal taste, but it might be just a little bit too much for others of a different persuasion. The accompanying béarnaise sauce was surprisingly and impressively zesty and the fries, frankly, were nothing special. All in all, it was a decent but unremarkable affair.

The accompanying creamed vegetables (£4.75) were as good as one could want, and the additional lardons could never be unwelcome. I’ll say something for the portions, too, which were perfect—steak joints often forget that, with a large cut, hefty side portions can make things a little difficult. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but the London Steakhouse Co. at least ignored that pitfall—you’re not going to be crawling out of the place with a stitch in your side and half a meal left on your table.

Nothing bad to say about the desserts, either; my guest’s crème brulée was masterfully prepared and my own vanilla cheesecake with summer berries (each £7.50) was equally impressive.

Everything else about the evening—the staff (who were friendly and helpful), the wine (Mandarossa Nero d’Avola, £26, which was mellow and drinkable) and the ambience in general—was exactly as good as you would hope and expect from a well-established Chelsea restaurant. In the end, there’s nothing about the place to really complain about. All I really can say is that, while it’s not a bad place by a long shot, it’s not a fantastic place either—and when you’re dealing with the high expectations of such an upmarket setting, disappointment can be bitter. Approach with caution.

386 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW3; 020 7351 9997;

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