Finding tastiness in and around London... and sometimes at the back of the fridge...

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Gaslight Grill (The Lost Angel), Battersea. £45.97

Besides absent-mindedly shoving crudités into my mouth and monitoring a small union jack production line, my jubilee weekend mainly consisted of getting hammered and accidentally insulting people. Suffice to say, I found myself lying on the sofa in my dressing gown at 5pm this afternoon craving a huge, comforting piece of meat. Kitted out with my camera and a massive lilac jumper, I headed down the road to Battersea in the pouring rain where the Lost Society people have opened up a new restaurant.

The first thing to say is that the design is great. Out front, the Lost Angel is your standard gastro-pub, replete with those battered red leather couches and the sort of London-themed art that you see everywhere in the capital (think screen-prints of buses). Sounds disappointing, but I had barely sat down when the maître d’ came over to usher me through some sliding doors, where the Gaslight Grill is located. Immediately, we’re transported to prohibition America with a Dickensian twist. The small room is all brown panelling with loads of different light fittings, my favourites being antique trumpets. The skylight above the eating area is covered with over 900 chains (which the waiter proudly told me took two days to hang up!) and a small bar in the corner of the room serves up gin cocktails. It’s all very ‘gloomy chic’.
One criticism would be the music, which clashed with the surroundings. I wanted something a bit jazzier (some Miles Davis would be a nice nod to the trumpets on the wall) and less loud. By the end of the meal I was going a bit mad listening to the rubbish Latino and chillout music being pumped out above my head. It was the sort of stuff you’d get free with a tabloid newspaper.

The second thing to say is that the staff were incredibly attentive. They more than earned the 12.5% discretionary charge. Ladies – if you’re into smooth, well-dressed waiters then go. I’m off the market, but I wouldn’t want to see those boys going to waste.

Starter: Asparagus, spinach and potato fritas

I devoured the fritas before I remembered to take a picture of them (the food came very quickly, but I walked for an hour to get to the restaurant). I’m sad to say that you’re not missing out as the plate didn’t look particularly special… or taste particularly special for that matter.
I was expecting a messy green frittata loaded with yummy veg, but what I got was some barely tarted up potato croquettes. There wasn’t enough asparagus for it to do much except add a different texture and I couldn’t taste the spinach at all; a shame because spinach is undoubtedly my favourite green thing. It didn’t help that the croquettes were served with an awkward-looking ramequin filled with mayonnaise, which just added to the whole ‘beige birthday buffet’ look. You expect something more interesting for £6.95.

Main: Rump steak with a selection of three sauces

Now we get down to business. The steak looked relatively unimpressive when it was served up on a slightly passé bread board with your standard tomatoes on the vine and cooked garlic. There was also a pointless salad shoved into one corner, which annoyed me.
I wasn’t disappointed by the steak, which was cooked perfectly ‘à point’ and was about the size of my head so definitely worth the £22. However, this restaurant’s selling point is the selection of sauces that go with it. You choose three but the list on the back of the menu is huge so you could go back every day for a week and have different stuff every time. I had the strawberry jus (The Gaslight Grill’s signature sauce), green peppercorn, tangy herb and a bit of the tarragon butter, which the waiter threw in because I had a note pad and camera.
The green peppercorn was good French-fare: thick, creamy and slightly meaty. I think the base was the restaurant’s veal stock, which must have been why it was so tasty.
The tangy herb sauce wasn’t very tangy. It was just olive oil with some bits in it. I’m sure that in a different dish (with pasta, say) the flavours would be lovely, but it didn’t work with the steak, which completely overpowered it.
For the restaurant’s signature sauce, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Christmas Dinner 2005 in Latvia, which was a nice piece of venison with a random dollop of strawberry jam on the side. The jus had less of a jam-like consistency obviously, but the taste experience was similar. It definitely works, but takes some getting used to. A fussy eater would struggle here, I think.
The winner, without a doubt, was the tarragon butter. I can see why the waiter wanted me to try it. Tarragon is pungent enough for its flavour to compete with the steak and melted butter tastes great anyway. Top marks.

A pre-dessert visit to the toilets was joyful. I could live in there.

Dessert: Bitter chocolate tart

The dessert menu was pretty uninspiring, but you can’t go far wrong with a chocolate tart. Especially one that has a non-soggy base and raspberries on the side. I know that everyone does the chocolate/raspberry thing, but it never gets old for me.

After settling up, I went home and slept for a little bit. Whilst this restaurant had a little of the 'all style but no substance' about it, the huge slab of meat did wonders for the hangover!

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