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A beef-focussed restaurant from the people behind Goodmans and Burger and Lobster.
There’s a marketing tool taught in business school called ‘the loss leader’. It is, to quote Wiki-source-of-all-knowledge-pedia ‘a pricing strategy where a product is sold at a price below its market cost to stimulate other sales of more profitable goods’. It’s what’s going on when a supermarket advertises a 99p leg of lamb, then beasts you on the rest of your basket.
Surveying the menu at this Soho newcomer, it looked like someone had done their MBA homework. In pride of place was a Brazilian cut of steak, called Picanha, priced at what seemed a steal: £6 (per 100g). This would be sure to draw in the customers.
And drawn in we were. To a restaurant that, until recently, was called Rex & Mariano, and sold fish. After less than a year, its owners (the Goodman group) jacked in the ceviche-carpaccio-tartare concept and relaunched the site as a steakhouse. Gone are the pale, poisson-suited tones; in their place black ceilings, warehouse lights and leather booths. Steakhouse-by-numbers. But while we’re cool with them retaining the R&M standalone basin (it’s more a showpiece than somewhere to actually wash your hands), we were less impressed by them re-using all the old R&M branded crockery: that’s just cheap.
And this eye-on-the-bottom-line was evident everywhere. The Picanha was the best dish, but you have to order a minimum of 200g (so, real price: £12, excluding sauces at 75p each, or any sides). This still isn’t bad, but other items plainly failed the ‘value test’. Our favourite starter, a plate of eight Sicilian red prawns (tiny, like sweet shrimp), served raw, with olive oil and salt, weighed in at £12. A trio of ‘holy fuck’ baked oysters turned out to be more ‘excuse me please’; the promised fiery sauce was delicious, but there was hardly any of it; the oysters were tepid rather than baked. £8.50 for three. And so it went on – perfectly nice creamy mash with roasted garlic and onions - £6. A plate of so-what ‘triple cooked’ chips - £4.50.
It’s a pity. Because staff – though frequently AWOL – were friendly and helpful once summoned. This place could be quite good. Not that the corporate diners filling the place seemed to care. Of course, they’d all been to business school, and presumably knew just what they’d be getting.
2 St Anne's Court
|Transport:||Tube: Tottenham Court Road|
|Opening hours:||Tue-Thur noon-2.30pm, 5-10.30pm; Fri noon-2.30pm, 5-11.30pm; Sat 5-11.30pm; Sun noon-5pm|
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