Yonkers, one of New York state’s largest towns, is the chosen name of the latest eaterie on Restaurant Alley, aka Osborne Road in Southsea.
The metropolis, the birthplace of Ella Fitzgerald, Mary Blige and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, is a typical North American city and is chosen as a film setting by many directors for its very ordinariness.
Southsea’s Yonkers is a more curious place. Keen to be closely identified with all things American apparently – the wording under the stars and stripes design is New York Steak House and Fish Bar – it’s actually about as American as the Arc de Triomphe, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon or the Taj Mahal.
Why Mr Rahman thought that the décor followed in the footsteps of a typical Yankee steak house is bewildering to say the least.
I guess the owner thought that adding half a full-sized red car descending a wall was all the American statement of Yankee intent needed.
Starters include very un-American steak bar prawns with paprika; asparagus tips; lamb cutlets; whitebait with melba toast and vegetable tempura. Or go for chicken wings. Mains are ribs (but they don’t tell you they’re beef, not pork, either on the menu or verbally); steaks including T-bone and New York strip; burgers with whimsical American football names – quarterback, halfback – and fish.
Lobster Thermidor, salmon steak or homemade fishcakes with chilli lime sauce don’t quite get the Yankee buzz across either.
Prices are medium-low to high: from £3.50 to £29.50. My choice was the ribs (thinking they were pork) and fries with a ‘piping hot jus and garnish’ for £12.95. And a glass, as recommended by the lacklustre waiter, of Pinot Noir. One sip in, it was left, £5.75 down the drain.
Within nanoseconds my plate of ribs appeared. An entire cow had been slaughtered for my benefit.
‘If you want more, just say,’ the waiter offered hopefully.
Not even the hungriest of cowpokes, those hired hands that tend cattle and perform other duties on horseback all day out in the Midwestern prairies, could have demolished this vast slab of browned carcass. He rightly wouldn’t have been tempted to dip any of the meat into the so-called jus, a rendered-down Indian-spiced brown concoction. And he would have lassoed the tiny square china dish of spicy, soggy chips across the room in disgust.
The ‘garnish’ was a very poor, small salad. The meat was steamed, flabby and tasteless apart from unbilled, unwarranted Indian flavours.
Booming pop music blared out and the owner and his one staff paced up and down and didn’t clear the plate or offer me a menu.
Desserts included mud pie, cheesecake, pecan pie and ice cream.
But instead I asked for the bill, paid nearly £20 and ran for the hills.
I’m afraid I can’t drum up one good reason for spending a dollar in this new place.
Instead I recommend you pay a visit to one of the other establishments on Restaurant Alley.
‘At a time when good food, service and value for money seem to have gone out of fashion, Yonkers will give you just that,’ says the restaurant’s website.
Hmm. Wrong on all three counts, I would suggest.