Jesus himself couldn't make steak better. Or so said my date as we munched on a MASH up of American cum Danish inspired fodder. I'm not aware of Jesus ever taking to the pan to griddle sirloin, but I got his drift.
For those living under a restaurant shaped rock, you will not have noticed the launch of possibly the largest steak house in London, MASH, nestled inconspicuously on the corner of Brewer and Air St. in Soho.
The entrance doesn't say much, but the arrival two flights underground into the old 1930's Art Deco ballroom says it all. This is steak the way Mad Men would serve it. And I like Mad Men.
In what must be annoying for both the veggies and the ecos amongst us, steak is having its moment in the capital right now. With chains like Sophie's and Hawksmoor popping up in ever increasing corners, we're becoming spoilt for choice for places that do one thing, and do it well. That's what I was expecting with MASH, however it wasn't quite what I got.
Despite billing itself as a steak haven, the Modern American Steak House (get it?) actually does quite a few things well, on top of its steak. We started with fried squid, chillies and lime: crispy, crunchy and deliciously oozing in squid appeal. Those mixed with the snails and steak tartare made for a schmorgers board of starters to shout about. Plus the tartare was served with crisps meaning you could treat it like a meatier version of a humus dip - scoop in and gobble up - which when matched with a soft Pinot Noir meant I was officially living the dream.
But as for the main event: Jesus' steak. I often find myself getting a bit philosophical when eating great hunks of meat. Was it all worth it? Has the effort paid off? Did some poor cow die in vein for some over excited chef to frazzle the life out of it and evaporate away any flavour and texture in the process? Well, luckily for MASH, the cow and my over analytic self that day, it was worth it. All of it.
Melt in the moth doesn't quite do the Uruguay New York Strips justice. The steak kind of fell off my fork and dissolved into my tongue. In comparison, the Danish Ribeye was lined with layers of marble fat, giving it that tender chewy texture that made me feel like a real man. A man that had to chew for his supper. Gggrrrrr.
There's an impressive range of types of meat and cuts of steak on offer, and the sharing is caring style of service encourages mixing up your orders and swap shopping your way through. Far easier than the "shall we switch plates half way" type chat, which, let's be honest can get tense when steak is involved.
As for the MASH up of sides? The spinach was SO creamy it could have almost been a pudding, but when mixed with fat chips, skinny chips and winter greens it virtually made a meal in itself. All washed down with a punchier Malbec, the house red, which stood up well to the richness of the meal.
I tried resisting a pudding until the waiter dropped the Monbazillac bomb - my favourite sweet wine produced in South West France. It was all I could do to not ask for seconds, of both that and the chocolate whatever it was that ended things off perfectly.
Several things made this a winner. The fact that we ate for four hours but didn't feel stuffed to the point of exhaustion at the end of it. The fact that lunch rolled on from 2 to 6 without so much as a whisper from an impatient waiter. And that fact that my date and I got gradually more sozzled on an increasingly good range of wines. MASH might not be the cheapest lunch you can find in Soho, but Jesus himself would probably agree it is one of the best.
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