MASH – Modern American Steak House

Peter Morrell enjoys the unique food and the decor at this exciting new Danish concept restaurant in London

When the former Regent Palace Hotel, just behind Piccadilly, was re-developed, preservation of its interior was an essential part of the plan. So the entire ground floor art deco restaurant was meticulously moved into the basement. Months of work and £10 million later and the celebration of birds eye maple clad pillars, mirrored doors, huge ceiling lamps of brass and glass, and chrome railings was ready for a suitably prestigious restaurant to occupy the Grade II listed room.

In total 26 restaurateurs were bidders for the space and after an exacting round of interviews and even visits to the winner’s restaurant in Copenhagen The Crown Estate awarded the tenancy to the Danish sensation MASH – Modern American Steak House. This was yet another triumph for culinary Denmark although the style of food is anything but new Nordic.

My sense of anticipation started while walking down the wide spiral staircase, suddenly it’s like entering the ball room of a 1930’s ocean liner. There are no pictures on the walls, all the interest is provided by the precise architectural detail.

The bar area is lined with horseshoe shaped banquettes and the main restaurant is a series of booths which offer dining privacy but without losing any of the buzzy atmosphere from the smart clientele.

There is an extensive cocktail menu offering classics like a negroni, New York sour and their own signature margarita. For spirit lovers there is a wide selection of bourbons, ryes and whiskeys. Our own choices of the Roederer Quartet sparkling from California and a Ketel One based Bloody Mary were a good precursor to the food.

If this room is the temple of food then the high altar must be the two huge glass meat larders between the bar and dining spaces. The menu does offer fish but this is unashamedly a carnivore’s paradise.  Over cocktails I chatted with owner Peter Trauboth, who last year was voted best sommelier in Denmark.  He spoke passionately about the steaks, their provenance and the care taken in choosing the right suppliers.

The beef is imported from four countries Uruguay, Australia, the U.S. and Denmark.  The meat is totally different from each source and is influenced by what the animal eats, the age when it is slaughtered and how long it is left to hang. The cattle from the first three countries are corn fed and the Danish animals are reared exclusively on grass.

A glance in the larder on my way to the table revealed sirloins, rib-eyes and fillets slowly maturing to develop their flavour. The Danish sides of beef hang for at least 70 days losing 25 per cent of their moisture so that the flavour intensifies and the action of natural enzymes tenderises the meat.

The menu is simple and straightforward. An eclectic range of starters such as smoked salmon and fried veal sweetbreads set the scene before moving on to the mains which, although predominantly steaks, have other meat and fish options. My dining companion and I started with the charcuterie and the fried chilli squid with lime. The charcuterie was a good selection of air dried ham, sausage, terrine and duck rillette, all excellent quality and with lots of taste. I particularly liked the duck. The squid was plump and succulent, encased in a pillowy batter with a tangy dipping mayo.

The main event arrived; two rib-eyes, one from Omaha Nebraka and the other the 70 day dry aged from Denmark. Both had an extensive marbling of fat throughout but that’s where the similarity ended. The U.S. meat was sweet, red and was meltingly tender with a well rounded taste. The Danish steak was a dark ruby colour with the most intense gamey flavour and, like the lager from the same country, probably the best in the world. This is the moment that foodies live for.

The sides of floury chips, creamy spinach with cheese, corn sauté with the most delicious smoked bacon and a dish I had not eaten for years, bone marrow all provided a suitable backdrop to the steaks and the final flourish was a very aromatic Béarnaise sauce. 

Another feature of the restaurant is its extensive wine cellar and with nine sommeliers on hand you can guarantee finding the perfect match for your food. A look at the wine list revealed bottles from £20 up to three figures with many stops in between.  There is a huge selection of wines from the U.S. with others from both the old and the new worlds. Our starters were matched with the Bergstrom 2010 Old Stones Chardonnay. It was a fusion of citrus and tropical fruits with blossom in the bouquet moving on to notes of lemon, lime and lychee on the palate and finishing with a lingering, light acidity.

The red we drank with our steaks was a real treat that matched the robust flavours of the food. The Ramey 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley had intense spice and cedar on the nose, in the mouth it was velvet smooth with complex structures of blackcurrant and cherries on the palate and a very long, dry tannic finish.

The size of the portions had almost defeated us but we had to make space for sharing the MASH signature cheesecake with a raspberry topping. Needless to say it was delicious, creamy with a crunchy base. People who haven’t got a sweet tooth will be satisfied with the trio of cheeses. A decaff cappuccino for my insomniac companion rounded off an excellent meal

A final word about the staff; they are unfailingly polite and helpful and this  together with the decor and the food creates a sense of occasion that will stay in your culinary memory for a very long time

The entry level price for a three course meal with a bottle of wine is around £55 per head

77 Brewer Street
Tel: 0207 734 2608

Review date 4th December 2012

Images ©MASH