A new steak house has opened at Whiteley Shopping Centre and Dish Detective decided to put its skills to the ultimate test.
For not only is Dish Detective a big fan of steak – my guest for the evening was a vegetarian.
How would new venue Bar + Block cope with the challenge?
Well, judging by the smiles on our faces as we left and our equally full bellies, I’d say it excelled itself.
The restaurant is part of Whitbread PLC and it’s the third site under the Bar + Block umbrella, following its debut venue in Birmingham and a flagship in King’s Cross, London.
But it hasn’t got that tired chain feel yet – it’s new, vibrant and very cool.
There are antique mirrors and a neon cow on the wall.
Nestled in between all the other chains at Whiteley, it actually stands out as being modern and trendy.
Not only that, it’s got a large bar area, with the first part of the restaurant feeling more like a cocktail bar than a restaurant, with the diners tucked behind.
While there are bars of sorts in Whiteley’s other restaurants, this is the first one that makes you feel comfortable enough to be able to wander in pre-cinema or post-shop and enjoy just a drink.
It’s also very handy when you’re early and your mate isn’t.
Anyway, after enjoying a drink at the bar, we made our way to a table – a leather booth – and were welcomed by a friendly waitress who went through the menu and explained that all the steaks are freshly cut at the restaurant.
Then she went through the veggie menu and, surprisingly for a steak house, there were quite a few options.
Deciding to go straight for mains, I ordered the 8oz sirloin steak (£15.95) while my friend opted for a veggie burger (£10.95).
Neither were disappointing.
My steak, which was large and hardly fatty, came with chunky chips and a delicious ham hock, mushroom and cheese sauce (£1.50).
Not wanting to be completely meat and potatoes, I also ordered a side salad (£2.95) which was fresh and just the right size to accompany my large steak.
The veggie burger came with skinny chips and was filled with plenty of chargrilled red peppers, courgettes, mushrooms and topped with rocket, guacamole and mozzarella.
After our mains had been demolished there was just enough time to enjoy a mocktail .
There were plenty to choose from. I plumped for the Ticki Mocki (£3.50) – a tropical mix of mint, pineapple, orange and lime juice served with a pineapple wedge – while my friend went for a Fake Red Head – strawberry puree and cinnamon syrup mixed with cranberry juice, lime juice, ginger beer and basil leaves.
Both were refreshing and it was great to see as much effort and care go into these mocktails as the other cocktails on the list.
For dessert we each finished with a churros sundae (£5.95).
Its large, sweet churros – a type of fried-dough pastry – accompanied by chocolate and vanilla ice-cream, brownie chunks, biscuit bites, clotted cream and chocolate sauce, were simply divine.
Even if it was served in a jam jar-type glass.
Bar + Block may be one of the last restaurants on the block at Whiteley – taking up literally the final vacant unit – but it’s well worth a visit.
The place was busy for a weekday when Dish Detective visited.
With the waitress advising of a long list of bookings for the weekend due to its early popularity, my advice would be to book early if you fancy eating here.
All round a great addition to the nightlife in Whiteley and a place where Dish Detective will definitely be paying another visit.
Tel: (01489) 663344
(ratings out of 5)