Subtly situated outside The Gate in the town centre is Bar and Block – a light and modern steak restaurant. The first thing you notice is the contemporary, pale-wood décor surrounding the walls and leading you up the stairs into the slightly higgledy-piggledy yet quirky layout. The bar area is the first thing you see and is bright and airy, completely juxtaposing with the restaurant area which is far more moody and atmospheric for evening dining.
We were seated in a little booth and the waiter was quick to recommend the Chilli non Carne to my friend who was immediately put at ease for being a vegetarian at a steakhouse.
From the drinks menu, I ordered a glass of the Vistamar Matinal Merlot to go with my meal; the smooth, fruity red with a hint of oak, paired perfectly with the rich and heavier meat dishes. I would recommend this as a very enjoyable and affordable wine which adapted effortlessly across each course.
As we poured over the menu, our waiter presented us with a small pot of popcorn which had been cooked in beef dripping. They were extremely moreish and admittedly had to hold myself back on countless occasions otherwise I would have devoured the whole lot. The beefy flavour was not at all overpowering, and instead made for a very interesting amuse-bouche.
For our starters we had olives and the house breads. Initially that sounds like a very standard choice, however what arrived was far from what I expected. The generous selection of white breads were stacked around a rather peculiar looking butter. After reaching for the first piece of bread which was lovely and warm, I dived into the spread. What I experienced was a rich, creamy and slightly smoky beef-infused butter, and I have to say, it ended up being my favourite dish of the night. I was secretly very pleased that my dinner guest was vegetarian and therefore couldn’t share my meaty bread.
Following some more very sound suggestions from our friendly waiter, I settled on the 8oz sirloin cooked medium rare, and the chilli was selected across the table. I have to be honest, I was more excited when I saw the vegetarian dish arrive, as the chilli - placed in a round pot in the centre - was surrounded by salsas, hand-cut chips, pitta and vegetables. It was an impressive colourful display that was pleasing to see in a heavily meat-orientated restaurant. In no way did my friend feel overlooked for having the meatless option.
My main came with a steak, elegantly decorated with samphire on top and sided with chunky chips and peppercorn sauce. Possibly because I was directly comparing my plate to the rainbow array opposite, I thought the display could have included a small salad. That said, the steak was cooked exactly how I like it and had a nice peppery finish. The chips had a crispy outside and if I hadn’t filled up so much on bread beforehand I would have eaten them all gladly.
Lastly, I finished with the apple and blackberry crumble where I had a choice of vanilla ice cream or custard. I chose custard due to the rather cold, wintery weather outside and instantly felt a satisfying warmth as I enjoyed the fruity pudding.
Overall, I had a lovely experience at Bar and Block and would not only recommend to meat lovers but to anyone who loves good quality food and excellent service.
Address: 95 Newgate Street, NE1 5RF