STEAK has had a difficult journey to its opening in Chapel Place.
The new eaterie was scheduled to launch late last year, but when Tunbridge Wells was put into the highest Covid tier that put an end to that. And then when the whole country was then plunged into lockdown in early January this year, its shiny new doors had to remain firmly shut.
But now, with restaurants able to reopen and the lifting of most restrictions hopefully in sight next month, STEAK, which is part of One Warwick Park Hotel, is finally up and running.
My Editor asked that I go along to try out its menu, as being a vegetarian it would be interesting to see if STEAK – which clearly specialises in fine cuts of ribeye and the like – also delivered for non-meat eaters…
The restaurant is One Warwick Park’s new flagship eaterie, and on heading towards it my guest and I are instantly charmed by its scenic location in quaint Chapel Place, away from the bustle of the town centre and surrounded by a cluster of artisan shops and cool bars.
On arrival we are warmly greeted by STEAK’s Manager, Robin Mallia. He offers us a complimentary glass of Prosecco, as is custom with every STEAK guest, and shows us to our table.
Robin introduces us to our waitress, Olivia, who takes our drinks order (for me an Aperol Spritz and my guest Brewdog Punk IPA) and hands us some menus.
She’s very friendly, and tells us that she has just finished school and was hired back in December before the latest lockdown, but only started waitressing at the restaurant a few weeks ago upon its official opening.
In terms of STEAK’s décor, the restaurant strikes a fine balance between being dark and atmospheric yet glimmering with contemporary class.
The mirrored walls give the impression that the restaurant is bigger than it is, but also manage to add an air of intimacy as tables are sectioned off from each other with dividers, giving it an exclusive – and also safe socially-distanced – feel.
Being a vegetarian in a steak restaurant usually limits choices gravely, but I’m happy to report not at STEAK. Despite its name there is actually a good selection of meat-free options for those who have vegetarian or vegan diets.
To kick things off I choose the panko crusted halloumi (£6.95) and my guest orders the crispy fried squid (£6.95).
The halloumi is garnished with pomegranate seeds. The latter’s tartness perfectly offset the creamy inside of the crispy halloumi and coolness of the cucumber crème fraiche.
It isn’t your standard starter, and takes you on a whistle-stop tour of tastes, but it’s very pleasing on the palate.
The crispy fried squid and aioli is a classic starter done expertly well but with a slight twist thanks to the wedge of lime in place of lemon and a zingy mustard seed sauce on the side. The mixed leaf salad accompanies the dish perfectly.
When it comes to main courses, STEAK offers two meat-free options – a vegan burger with roasted cauliflower steak (£14.50) and pan-fried smoky potato gnocchi (£11.50), which I opt for.
Upon the dish’s arrival at our table I immediately smell the gnocchi’s smoky aroma which, thanks to its earthy ingredients, conjures up images of autumnal afternoons.
They include toasted pecans, crispy sage, dolcelatte cream and smoked cherry tomatoes. The interesting combination presents an abundance of textures and enjoyable overall taste.
My companion chooses one of the steaks this restaurant is becoming well-known for – the 10oz Ribeye (£24.50). It is cooked to my guest’s personal preference perfectly and served with a generous portion of chips, a mixed leaf salad and peppercorn sauce.
Obviously choosing a select cut from STEAK means there is a certain level of taste expectation, and I’m happy to say my guest said it did not disappoint.
If you’re looking for a classic, properly executed cut then STEAK goes above and beyond.
Unable to resist the selection of sides on offer, we opt to share roasted broccoli with chilli and garlic (£4), which added enough of a kick without being too spicy.
We probably should have called it a day after our starters and mains, but we spot the intriguingly named ‘Eskimo Bars’ on the menu.
We discover they are two bars of chocolate brownie and vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate with hot salted caramel sauce (£7).
Garnished with flowers, fruit and a coulis, along with a warm salted caramel on the side, they are a joy to behold – and taste.
The sweetness of the coulis and salted caramel complements the richness of the Eskimo bar perfectly.
The bars are probably enough to share between two, but if you’re looking for an indulgent pud then they will definitely hit the spot!
STEAK offers diners a calm and collected service with a most welcoming atmosphere.
And the important thing to stress is that you don’t have to be a carnivore to enjoy dinner there, thanks to its options for vegetarians and vegans. I’m pleased to say it really is inclusive for everyone.
Children are also welcome thanks to a special menu tailored for little ones – they even have the option of a mini 4oz steak with chunky chips and peas!
As we leave and head off back up the cobbled streets we agree that STEAK is perfect for any occasion – from a midweek date night to a family meal.
And it really is a cut above the rest…
To book a table, visit https://brasserie-owp.co.uk/ or call 01892 552 592
Main Photos: © 2021 Rose Bainbridge Photography
Food: Lottie Bulmer