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Black and Blue, Borough Market on London's Bankside

In case you're a visitor to London, Bankside is a vibrant area of redevelopment. There are various focal points, chief of which are Southwark Cathedral, Tate Britain, the brilliant replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and Vinopolis, city of wine. For foodies the principal attraction is Borough Market, where a traders and producers come up to town from all over the country, bringing with them all sorts of delicacies and delights. This in turn has attracted a number of restaurants to open in the area, notably Rasted and Fish, recently joined by Black and Blue, the flagship of a small chain of upmarket steakhouses. Why Black and Blue? Because they will cook your steak any way you want from charcoal black to bloody blue. This makes a change from having the chef decide to cook the thing barely at all.

The secret of a good steak house is to keep it simple and to use first class ingredients and this is what they're doing at Black and Blue. The menu is straightforward, a few starters (some of which have been designed to double as bar snacks), some home-made hamburgers, various steak cuts, and other grills including fish and lamb. It's a surefire recipe for success, as the large, buzzy crowd of city diners on a cold midweek evening, demonstrated.

The site of the restaurant is shoehorned into various old Victorian railway arches (we were only aware of one train during the evening!). The conversion was done in a most imaginative way with much use of glass, including a transparent lift that whisks you up to the first floor which houses the lavatories. I descended, surveying my fellow diners from above and feeling very much the deus ex machina.

I'll begin with the service: very slick and professional, by what appeared to be an all girl cast. Our young lady had only arrived from Slovakia two weeks previously. She was very professional and her English was perfect. She told me that she had attended the Hilton Hotel Academy in Bratislava. What an asset to London's catering industry are such young people from Eastern Europe.

Smoked salmon and scrambled egg is a good test of the kitchen. The salmon was generous and had no trace of those veins of fatness which ruin the texture of much farmed salmon. The scrambled egg was a bit overdone for my guest who prefers his to have a more creamy texture. Chargrilled King prawns with garlic butter were really sensational, like mini lobsters with a fantastic flavour. Both starter and main course portions are nothing if not generous here. A glass of house white was pleasant enough without being particularly memorable.

In the interests of research, we ordered a "naked" hamburger, Sans bun, Sans garnish, just to see what they are like. We had been told that the hamburger topped with foie gras had to be experienced. To be strictly accurate, it's topped with pâté de foie gras, which begins to melt into the hamburger, quite delicious. The burger itself had that texture and flavour that only home-made burgers seem to possess.

We tried a rib eye steak which came out just as ordered, nicely charred on the outside and very pink within. I had the rack of lamb, from which each cutlet is thrown on the grill separately. It came served very impressively on quite a substantial wooden chopping board, together with a serrated blade so large you’d probably get arrested if found with one on the street! The lamb came with, amongst other things, a very sweet grilled red pepper.

The only thing I find a little tedious with steakhouses is their enthusiasm for salads which extend with minimal variation from course to course. There was a huge undressed salad on my chopping board, and oil and vinegar was brought to the table. But how can one properly dress the salad on a flat chopping board, without getting into a rather an unholy mess? And I'd already had a similar but smaller salad with my prawns. I was beginning to feel like a caterpillar.

We shared an Apple Norman, a very delicious kind of apple tart almost like a clafoutis, (don’t be put off by the name!) and a plate of excellent cheese from the nearby Neal’s Yard cheese monger. Their Lancashire cheese was terrific – so different from the soapy supermarket stuff.

The cost of your meal: around £30 to £40 a head depending on your choice of drinks. The menu with prices is on their website, link below.

Black & Blue Borough Market - Dine Online highly recommended for unreconstructed carnivores. It is part of a small chain, so here is the contact information for all the restaurants.

Black & Blue – (
Open: Every day 12 noon – 11pm
Belsize Park - 205-207 Haverstock Hill, London NW3. T: 020 7443 7744
Borough Market - 1-2 Rochester Walk, London SE1. T: 020 7357 9922
Gloucester Road - 105 Gloucester Road, London SW7. T: 020 7244 7666
Kensington - 215-217 Kensington Church Street, London W8. T: 020 7727 0004
Wigmore Street - 90-92 Wigmore Street, London W1. T: 020 7486 1912


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