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Best Of Manchester Steaks

Gordo, Jonathan Schofield And Neil Sowerby gorge on city centre flesh

Written by . Published on April 16th 2013.


Best Of Manchester Steaks
 

STEAK. Even the word sounds horny.

T-Bone. Sirloin. Rib-eye. Rump. Fillet. Oh dear, what a mouthful of wonderful things. And how lucky we are today. Because seventy-four years ago as a nation we decided that we didn't like bullies and that we should stick up for minorities. We didn't need a constitution to tell us. We just knew it was right.

Today, the variety of breeds open to us here in the North West is excellent. Family butchers are coming back into vogue. In the North West we have become blessed with farmers who have woken up to the reality that people will pay more for quality beef.

And so, we went to war with Mr Hitler and the door was shut on the idea of going to a restaurant and being able to order a steak of your choice. For sixteen long, cold and hungry years. You certainly couldn't get it at the butchers.

Even then, two years after rationing ended in 1956, when you could find a steak, it was a pretty insipid thing. The market couldn't afford to hang the beef for more than two weeks and the provenance was pretty suspect, along with the age. Hard worked dairy cows found themselves on the menu. A rump steak off one of those tired old girls really exercised your jawbones.

Slowly, once the seventies arrived and this writer was doing his apprenticeship as a master butcher, the quality of the cattle coming into the Manchester abattoir was improving, with wet-aged vac-packed sirloin and rump strips arriving from Argentina, and the Scots becoming canny with their marketing of the superb Angus steers.

Today, the variety of breeds open to us here in the North West is excellent. Family butchers are coming back into vogue. In the North West we have become blessed with farmers who have woken up to the reality that people will pay more for quality beef and they are testing us with some brilliant produce having realised that the grass in Cheshire, Lancashire and Cumbria is amongst the best in the world.

David Gale at Podium with the realityDavid Gale at Podium with the reality

So, are the restaurants doing their bit and buying and preparing quality? The answer is yes. Some, like Individual Restaurants with the RBG and Piccolinos brands have gone to the extraordinary length of buying herds, and their own abattoir; others, like Smoak at The Malmaison buy their beef off Frosts, definitely not known for doing cheap catering supplies, and hanging it themselves in a chiller in full view of the restaurant, to ensure the beef is matured to their standards.

Kitchens are buying Josper and Inka grills, essentially a barbecue inside an oven, with temperatures reaching 400 degrees at times, which deliver steaks that delight.

So, we have chosen our twelve best steaks in city centre Manchester and here they are. Are we right? Or wrong? As always, you can have your say below in the rants.

We shall be expanding the list out across the Granada region, so keep your suggestions flowing.

Gordo wrote the introduction above.

THE LISTING

This is in alphabetical order, not order of merit.

Albert Square Chop House
£26
Albert’s is part of the group which owns Sam’s and Mr Thomas’s Chop Houses. They have a reputation for steaks and chops which has been brought into the new kid on Albert Square. Still looking a bit squeaky clean, you can’t say the same for the 16oz, 28-day aged rib of beef chop, £26. It’s a belter. Comes with good chunky and crispy chips, a nice tart béarnaise and tomatoes cooked through with big juicy mushrooms looking like a black eye on the plate. Grilled, well salted and cooked absolutely as requested, with a full creamy flavour, the quality is tip top and has been through an aging process that has taken the steam out of the cut, with fatty flavours yielding in the mouth. Lush. (G)
Albert Square Chop House, 14 Albert Square, City, M2 5PF, 0161 161 834 1866

Albert Square big boyAlbert Square big boy

Gaucho
£21.85 
This place is all meat. If you cut the walls they'd bleed. Housed in one of the many former church meeting halls in the city centre - think Albert Hall where Trof is going to move, think the Memorial Hall that hosts Albert Square Chop House - the hide-of-cow covered interior is high and mighty and comes complete with a defunct organ. A theme of worship is appropriate as there is an Argentine air of reverence for flesh here - it would appear Argentines are weaned on beef. The bife de ancho (a ribeye) is a classic cut that on our visits was moist, feisty, textured and glorious. Maybe try it with a humita, a South American side of roasted pumpkin and sweet corn, served in a corn husk for £4. The Argentine winelist provides heavy reds that match the meats. The staff have been fully steak inducted in the cuts available and like to talk the steak virgin through the choice available. (JS) 
Gaucho, 2a St Mary’s Street, City, M3 2LB, 0161 833 4333

Meat manMeat man

Grill on the Alley
£32.50
You have to step a little carefully at Grill on the Alley. Order off the a la carte menu and you might find yourself with a steak that would never make it on to any Best of Manchester Steaks listing. But choose the small Best of British menu lurking usually amongst the salt and pepper pots and despite the huge price leap (310g ribeye £19.75 to 283g ribeye £32.50) you'll also find a huge quality leap and some of the best steaks in town. The Limousin X Galloway cattle from Bewcastle in Cumbria provide yielding, flavour-packed flesh that almost melts as you chew it. Well-marbled and full of quality with good aging these beat the other steaks on the Grill on the Alley a la carte into a distant second - even if that is reflected in the price. As usual this is a sharp Living Ventures operation with well-marshalled and amiable staff. (JS)
Grill on the Alley, 5 Ridgefield, City, M2 6EG, 0161 833 3465 (also New York Street, City, M1 4BD, 0161 238 9790).

Price it up at GrillPrice it up at Grill

Le Relais de Venise 'L'Entrecôte'
 £21 
This one splits opinion. I (JS) don't understand the place at all, Gordo thinks it's a good 'un. For £21 you get steak, frites and a starter salad. That's it. There is no negotiation to be had - aside from the odd special on high days and holidays - it's £21 forever. So no choice for the main event but then 17 choices for desserts. Weird, yet Gordo loves the juicy slices of four week aged steak and even likes the 'special, secret ingredient' sauce. The bonus is that if you clear your plate you get more steak. The building is handsome enough and the location good. The atmosphere is like a Dave edition of 'Allo, Allo' for me but a memory of old-fashioned French virtues and values for Gordo. Give it a whirl and work out whether it's a thumbs up or a thumbs down. (JS) 
Le Relais de Venise 'L'Entrecôte', 84-86 King Street, City, M2 4WQ, 0161 850 8600

A 'choice' choice of oneA 'choice' choice of one

Mark Addy
£16.50
The ribeye here is exactly what you want from a ribeye, a little communion with flesh, in all its fatty grandeur. The steak comes simply garnished in the classic style with a big tomato and a big mushroom. But it also arrives with the proper Mark Addy hallmark of fat chips, tasting of proper potato, a million welcome miles from those tooth-pick missiles of sharpened fries. The meat is 28-day-aged and then kept for a few days longer in the Mark Addy to really give it a tender, forgiving, yet rich character. The price is an absolute steal. Good winelist, a Cahors would do, or maybe try the steak with one of the changing range of ales. (JS)
Mark Addy, Stanley Street, City, M3 5EJ, 0161 832 4080 

Lush tomatoLush tomato 

The Restaurant Bar & Grill
£26.95
A big splash for a modest 280g (or bone-in 395g) slab of sirloin, but the provenance and handling of the raw material shine through from the first bite. This is Limousin beef from the award-winning Dinmore Manor herd in Herefordshire, naturally reared on grass, forage and grains, dry-aged for a minimum of 35 days to concentrate the  complexity then seared medium rare on RBG’s charcoal and woodburning grill. Beneath the lightly charred exterior, a hint of pink and a dense but tender texture. No real garnish to speak of and the Bearnaise lacked oomph (next time the Colston Bassett Stilton Sauce calls). Chips were sturdy rascals, crisp outside, floury inside. A totally satisfying steak expedition. (NS)
The Restaurant Bar & Grill, 14 John Dalton Street, Manchester, M2 6JR. 0161 839 1999

Flagship of joyFlagship of joy

Podium Restaurant
£30
You pay for the bloody privilege but then you do get the best provenance. David Gale can almost individually name the beasts provided by Mettricks the award-winning Glossop butcher with its own livestock and abbatoir - Mettricks was not so long ago the BBC Radio 4 national champion butcher. Gale, as shown in the picture in Gordo's introduction to this list, takes a side of beef and then has his brigade, as part of their training, strip out the cuts. There is no voguish Josper or Inka used in the cooking so no hard tasty crust, but that's not a problem - indeed, sometimes it's very welcome. The result at Podium is a simple celebration of what the best cuts prepared by one of the best North West chefs can deliver on the plate. In other words bags of flavour, in other words an absolute treat. A range of sauces, bearnaise, peppercorn, gravy - ask what they've got - can be provided to give a variety of experiences. (JS)
Podium, Hilton Manchester Deansgate, 303 Deansgate, City, M3 4LQ, 0161 870 1600

Podium presentation and substancePodium presentation and substance

Room
£21.50
This and Gaucho provide the most spectacular dining rooms on the steak list. They probably provide some of the more spectacular dining rooms in the land. Here under the beautiful oaken ceiling of the former Reform Club you can gorge on a steak to fit the setting - like some ruddy faced industrialist from a hundred years ago. The nicely aged sirloin at 8oz works well here, invariably cooked exactly as requested - we usually favour medium rare - and breaks beautifully. The bone marrow fritter is a superb addition. The latter little joy, the chunky chips and the steak itself are hallmarks of Dave Lythall's excellent and innovative control of his kitchen and menus.  (JS)
Room, 81 King Street, City, M2 4AH, 0161 839 2005

Marrow and meatMarrow and meat

 

San Carlo
£60
What cemented San Carlo’s entry on the twelve best list had to be eaten twice. Gordo woke up one day having had lunch at San Carlo the day before, then going on the lash through until 4am the following morning - he regained consciousness on a statue opposite the Press Club. There was a memory of a giant T-Bone that needed to be tried again to ensure it wasn’t a dream. The second time it arrived at the table he realised it was a monster, a full two and a half inches thick, and just shy of two kilos. It takes time to cook and we suggest that you order the tagliatelli with Calabrian sausage sauce for the wait; it’s tickled with fennel seeds. When the steak was carved it ate like a dream. Almost creamy in texture on the fillet side with lashings of silk, whilst the sirloin delivered like the first chapter of Dune. It’s sixty quid, but will feed two plus a great doggy bag. Which, the following day, flash fried with eggs made a breakfast fit for an angry Hercules. (G)
San Carlo, 42 King St West, City, M3 2WY, 0161 834 6226

Vast and lovely T-BoneVast and lovely T-Bone

63 Degrees
£26
What a little gem Manchester has in 63 Degrees, what a fine chef in Eric Moreau. This is a man who’s been uprooted by his son – and 63 Degrees boss, Alex – from Paris to West Didsbury. Eric Moreau is loving it in West Diddles and we’re loving what he’s doing on the aesthetically challenged Church Street in the Northern Quarter. The street outside might be one of the more chaotic in Manchester but inside the handsome 63 Degrees has it all under control. Here the fillet comes with vegetable fondant and bordelaise jus, and is a stunningly juicy slab of Gallic flair and elegance. All the accompaniments join in to create a satisfying ensemble. Wines are well worth sampling, maybe accompany the meat with the St.Estephe, Château Valrose ‘Cuvée Alienor’ - Vintage 2005 for £39. (JS)
63 Degrees Restaurant, 20 Church Street, City,  M4 1PN, 0161832 5438

63 Degrees63 Degrees

Smoak 
Smoak is unusual in that the hotel management love an experiment in their food and beverage; they threw the dice eighteen months ago and Smoak arrived with a Josper grill, a barbecue enclosed in an oven that reaches 400 degrees and delivers stonking steak. The meat has a great provenance an’all, Frosts of Chorlton. Lee Frost is the man of the moment and delivers the meat in whole steak pieces, leaving them in an upright glass chiller in full view of the restaurant for four weeks. This writer chose a wing rib, about 1.4 kilos in weight and shared it with the Editor. Medium rare, it actually winked at us - honest- as it arrived at the table. Astonishingly deep flavours, bordering on gamey, but fresh, almost grouse-like. Beautiful creamy crispy fat, the whole being heavily seasoned resulting in a crust that added texture a Chinese gourmand would have delighted in. (G)
Smoak, 1 Gore St, City, M1 3AQ, 0161 278 1000

Look at that bone marrow, look at that fleshLook at that bone marrow, look at that flesh

Solita
£17.90
Solita in the Northern Quarter is well-known for its invigorating and enthusiastic take on a Americana menu. But among the exceptional burgers and deep fried things in this handsome little restaurant there's steak too. On our visit we attacked a 12oz prime rib steak, a marbled treat, aged well, and cooked just right on the Inka grill. This charcoal powered kit roasts and barbecues at the same time and if handled well, creates a beautifully tender steak under a strongly flavoured and textured outer shell. Our steak had all these elements backed up by decent fries and oily greenery. Very life-affirming. Very...er...meaty. (JS) 
Solita, 37 Turner St, City, M4 1DW, 0161 839 2200

Clever meatClever meat

Gaucho main room with cowhide chicGaucho main room with cowhide chic

Sliced T-Bone - a real San Carlo treatSliced T-Bone - a real San Carlo treat

One of the Albert Square Chop House steaksOne of the Albert Square Chop House steaks

RoomRoom

 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+

You can follow Gordo on Twitter @GordoManchester 

You can follow Neil Sowerby on @AntonEgoManc

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54 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

JimMarch 7th 2013.

Great article. Smoak is the best for me. A fantastic steak

avoMarch 7th 2013.

I don't rate Gaucho at all. They serve wet aged steaks in vacuum packed bags which have travelled over from Argentina. Plus they charge London prices to boot.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoMarch 7th 2013.

Interesting viewpoint Avo; I quite like the flavour and texture that shows from the 'lie down' on the boat.

AnonymousMarch 7th 2013.

Its called wet ageing I believe...

To me, the thought of it essentially marinating in its own juices, on a slow boat from Argentina, well, makes sense!

I'm a fan. Agreed on the fact they charge London prices, but they do include sides and a sauce up here, which if you eat down in that London, they're add ons.

tbboy87March 7th 2013.

Smoak is the best steakhouse i've ever been to in manchester, but i'm tempted to try gaucho for the meat man... yum.

User4983March 7th 2013.

Where was the fabulous steak form NORTHERN QUARTER RESTAURANT !!! one of the v best me thinks!! Z

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 8th 2013.

Agreed

Prince_HarmingMarch 7th 2013.

I think for value for money, Le Relais de Venise 'L'Entrecôte' is fantastic. The meat was excellent, the chips light and crisp and the sauce is gorgeous.

I finished my fair-sized meal and was just leaning back to relax when they replaced it with another meal of exactly the same size! Add to that the fact that we were on a half-price offer at the time and I cannot fault the experience :D

Jon GMarch 7th 2013.

I do think that Gaucho is the best steak in town, but the sides there leave a lot to the imagination. Two people, two steaks, and two glasses of wine = £50+. That's the move. Otherwise, Smoak is far better than I ever expected, and I do rate the Mark Addy steak too, though I haven't had one for a while.

Wall-EMarch 7th 2013.

I have had great steaks at damson, rose garden and australasia. For me gota and gaucho are poor value but the rest of the list is good.

SpikeMarch 7th 2013.

You can't beat a good Steak....some great stuff going on in Manchester......but, by far and away the best Steaks in Britain, currently are served up by the Hawksmoor group in London; my particular favourite being the Covent garden one. I will be trying Smoak again very soon though...

4 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoMarch 7th 2013.

good call Spike, I am in London for a couple of days next week, any suggestions other than that people?

avoMarch 7th 2013.

I went to the Hawksmoor at Seveb Dials last time I was down there. I had the 600g bone in sirloin with creamed spinach, mac and cheese and chips. It was amazing. Try and go on a Monday, they only charge £5 corkage.

SpikeMarch 7th 2013.

of an evening 34 has a great atmosphere, Scott's meaty brother restaurant....or of course you have Wolfgang Puck's Cut on Park lane....but for me, whilst the food is first class, it doesn't quite 'cut' it as a Steakhouse, atmosphere wise...

Steve5839March 7th 2013.

Gordo, the best steak in London (my opinion) is Mr Smiths on Charterhouse Street - Enjoy.

HelenfrancescaMarch 7th 2013.

Agree wholeheartedly with Grand Master G on L'Entrecote. My mother thought otherwise. Couldn't get her head around the second serving. I loved it. But then, I'm a greedy motherfucker too.
Nice little round up of the steaks on offer within most people's price ranges. I'd kill for the San Carlo but at £60 fear the closest I'm getting to that is this review.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoMarch 8th 2013.

share it between three of you

Kat NowerMarch 22nd 2013.

I was put off by the mystery sauce which I thought contained something I was allergic to. When I asked what was in it, they said they didn't know and that they had it shipped up from the London restaurant. Found that a bit unnerving, especially as you obviously can't choose to have something different...

AnonymousMarch 7th 2013.

Best place for a Chateaubriand?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoMarch 8th 2013.

Podium

AnonymousApril 29th 2013.

Michael Caines bar and grill in Piccadilly! It's huge and served with really nice fries and bone marrow

AnonymousApril 29th 2013.

Michael Caines bar and grill in Piccadilly! It's huge and served with really nice fries and bone marrow

RuthMarch 7th 2013.

How much was the steak at smoak?

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoMarch 8th 2013.

good point, can't remember...

AnonymousMarch 7th 2013.

Get to the Minetta Tavern in NYC. The Cote de beuf is the finest steak you will ever experience. Perfection.

SpikeMarch 7th 2013.

ah...well if we are moving away from manchester as far as NYC then... Smith & Wollensky, Benjamins, Keens, Palm etc etc

1 Response: Reply To This...
JJM21March 11th 2013.

Macelleria. End of.

paulMarch 7th 2013.

If you are a chef and fuck up a decent piece of meat you should be struck off

1 Response: Reply To This...
TanyaMarch 9th 2013.

That means the grill on new york street are not "manageing" their staff properly....plenty of bad steak reviews and I have also had first hand experience oif total steak cooking failure!

Arthur CarrotMarch 7th 2013.

Have you anger management issues Paul? Finding yourself swearing too much? Maybe become vegetarian.

1 Response: Reply To This...
food for thoughtMarch 7th 2013.

Yes mister carrot

Steve5839March 7th 2013.

As a general view, Gaucho rules, must be the lie down it has across the sea. However, there are my calls for the Mark Addy where I shal be dining very shortly.

I do agree however, that beef has comea long way in the last 5 years with regard to quality and variation on offer.

slouchMarch 7th 2013.

To add to the 'outside Manchester' list, Fire & Ice at Raffles in Dubai do an amazing 1Kg piece of rib called the Tomahawk. Cooked to perfection, juices running.

AnonymousMarch 7th 2013.

I ordered the rib steak in Solita based on JG's previous review. They asked if medium rare would be ok, I said sure. What came was the most overcooked steak I've ever seen. Grey brown all the way through, without a hint of pink. I informed the waitress and she sort of smirked and took it away, without an apology. After 10 mins another arrived, which was properly cooked and passable. Far from the best I've had in the likes of Smoak etc. It was a real shame as it was my birthday and had been looking forward to it all week.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
TanyaMarch 9th 2013.

I know what you mean about that smirking waitress....i think she is swedish. I live opposite Solita and find that girl quite annoying!

John EdwardsApril 19th 2013.

I had the worse steak I have eaten in years at Solita last night. The grill must not have been working properly, as it was flabby and gross... Shame I was really excited too! The Service was good however - no 'annoying Swedes' encountered!

AnonymousMarch 7th 2013.

SW Steakhouse in Vegas, very expensive but worth every cent and more

2 Responses: Reply To This...
paulMarch 7th 2013.

All the food is better in Vegas

AnonymousMay 21st 2014.

Steakhouse at Circus Circus is the best in Vegas for me. Taxi straight back to civilisation afterwards though.

WilliamMarch 8th 2013.

what about the Lowry!

BullyMarch 8th 2013.

Good top 12 there chaps, thanks for adding a few lines about the service always good to know. I always try something a bit game-y when eating at The Mark Addy but I'll definitely give the steak a whirl for that price!

AnonymousMarch 8th 2013.

What about Neighbourhood?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Hero
Manc GuyMarch 9th 2013.

Dude!...a pint of draft is £4.50, the food is expensive and the staff are up themselves. Nice location though.

TanyaMarch 9th 2013.

to Manc Guy ....sounds like another Australasia?

Hero
Manc GuyMarch 22nd 2013.

The entrance to that place alone puts me off TANYA.

TanyaMarch 9th 2013.

I am hosting a monthly dining event in manchester, and went to Smoak last week. The ffod is better than Australisia- agreed by others too. The lamb dish was box standard but Manni to my right got the beef and it was SUPERB! I hope to go back there again soon!

TimbucMarch 11th 2013.

I don't see a 1.4kg wing rib on the Smoak website or indeed any sharing cuts. Do they always have them on? Thinking about making Smoak my next one to visit - managed most of the ones on the list already but fully intend to get through all of them.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoMarch 13th 2013.

Timbuc, if the wing rib isn't on (there are only two per beast) take the cote de boeuf for two or the 'tomahawk steak', all come from the same beasts and the cuts are the next along to the wing rib.

TimbucMarch 14th 2013.

Cheers Gordo.

AnonymousApril 27th 2013.

There isn't a cote de boeuf for two on the website, unless I'm looking at the wrong menu?

Kat NowerMarch 22nd 2013.

The Knott does a mean steak for a bargain price (something like £11-12 all in) or 24 bar and grill sometimes have pretty good deals on a decent one.

Mark.March 29th 2013.

oh dear, what a mouthful of wonderful things lol

Beast from WeasteApril 17th 2013.

'Best Of Manchester Steaks'

'So, we have chosen our twelve best steaks in City centre Manchester'

'Mark Addy, Stanley Street, City, M3 5EJ, 0161 832 4080'

Mark Addy own website actually says 'Manchester’s Original Riverside Pub'

Which City, Manchester City Centre?

Have they moved the City Centre boundary recently?

:)

1 Response: Reply To This...
Hero
Swiss JamesMay 2nd 2013.

The "Welcome to Salford" sign is about 10m back from the river- so I reckon it's a moot point.

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