Everyone thinks they can cook a great steak. It’s easy, right? But there’s more to it than meets the eye. In fact, there’s a definite art to it. How confident are you really?
New restaurant The Stone Grill, which opened its first Manchester branch this autumn, invites you to put your money where your mouth is. At this steak house, you’re the chef.
The idea is that you order your steak – or fish, or halloumi and vegetables (£14.99) if you prefer – and then cook it yourself, just as you like it, on volcanic hot stones.
It’s a fun interactive experience for groups, and great for competitive couples or impressing a date.
The hands-on experience also opens up all the big, beefy (sorry) questions. Should you leave your steak to sear on the stone, or keep flipping it? Rest it or eat it straight away? Dare to try rare or play safe with medium-well?
There’s lots on the menu to choose from for carnivores including hefty cuts of rump (from £13.99), sirloin (from £16.99) and ribeye (available solo or as a meat platter), lamb rump (£17.99), tuna steak, fillet medallions or surf and turf with juicy king prawns (£19.99).
There’s even a decadent 20oz chateaubriand – a pure fillet steak cut from the thicker part of the tenderloin – to share for £48.99, if you’re feeling especially confident in your culinary skills.
We go for a 16oz platter (£25.99) that includes lean rump, sirloin, fattier ribeye and tender fillet. A bit of everything, basically, plus fat golden chips and onion rings.
The steaks arrive ready seasoned on a board, and we’re invited to cut them into smaller pieces on the board before searing them on the hot volcanic stones using meat tongs.
And they really are hot, which is why there’s an age limit of 14+. The volcanic stones are stored in ovens at 480 degrees all day and 350 degrees at night.
It’s supremely satisfying placing the first piece on the stone and hearing that signature sizzle. But to flip or not to flip? And how long do we leave each piece for?
Flipping once gives a darker, more caramelised exterior and a slightly more done middle, our server tells us.
Flipping more frequently gives an ever so slightly lighter exterior and a slightly less done centre, and we find it also seems to cook the steak slightly faster. You may find your steak needs an extra minute or two to achieve the same level of ‘doneness’ if you’re only flipping once.
The temptation is to eat it straight away, but patience is rewarded if you let the meat rest on a plate first. Leaving a steak to rest allows the muscle fibres to relax and the juices to flow throughout.
Rest it for almost as long as you cooked it and you’ll immediately taste – and feel – the difference. It’s more tender, and more full of flavour.
Prices vary for the different meats, but there are special offers running throughout the week, from an 8oz rump steak on a stone and chips for £9.99 on Sundays to a free starter with every main on Mondays and Tuesdays or 2 for 1 cocktails on Fridays and Saturdays.
Stone Grill also offers some more exotic meat options if you fancy trying something new – or a selection of burgers, which you don’t need to cook yourself.
But really, cooking it yourself is what this experience is all about. Yes, chef.
The Stone Grill, 13-25 Liverpool Road, Manchester, M3 4NW.