Christopher’s, WC2E

The Halal: A fellow haloodie recently flagged up a new central London restaurant serving halal food. Christopher’s serves halal beef and lamb and they are able to pre-order halal chicken (although there is only one chicken dish on the entire menu) if they are given 48 hours notice.

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The Place: Just off the Strand and located in the heart of theatreland is Christopher’s, an elegant American grill. It originally opened in 1991 and was refurbished in 2013. Having lived in London for years, I’m quite surprised I’ve never stumbled across it before now to be honest. The building has a funky history, it was once a papier mâché factory and later a casino.

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The Food: The meal started off with a warm bread basket and a choice of two butters: one plain and one with herbs. The ambience and menu had more of a European vibe rather than that of an American grill. Heck there was no barbeque sauce or ketchup in sight!

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For starters, the tuna tartare had a real kick to it from the ginger and a hint of mustard. It was served beneath a guacamole and a spoonful of coleslaw.

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Scallops were cooked to golden perfection but the poor things looked a little undernourished on the giant plate!

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The burrata and tomato salad were presented beautifully. The mozzarella was creamy and soft but once again the portion was disappointing and the salad did not add much excitement to the dish. Just give me a bigger chunk of cheese next time please!

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For mains, my compatriots all went for hearty steaks. There was an option to have the steak blackened with Cajun spices (the waiter highly recommended this). He was right to do so as the coating brought an earthy, smokey element to the beef. The quality was spot on and despite two of the steaks being cooked beyond what had been requested, the meat retained its tenderness. The steaks were served with a choice of sauce: Bearnaise, peppercorn, steak, Chimichurri, blue cheese or red wine. We tried peppercorn and the bearnaise, both were pleasant.

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There were no side dishes provided with the mains (disappointing given the price). The Parmesan truffle fries were indulgent and delicious. Sweet potato fries were also good but lurked in the shadows of the ‘superior chip’.

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I ordered the Missouri-rubbed rack of Argyll hill lamb. It was pretty as a picture and served with a butternut squash galette and a minted pea puree and celeriac mash which were both spoon-pushed in abstract patterns across the plate. The lamb was well-cooked and moist.

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The Price: All things considered the restaurant was more a fine-dining experience rather than the American Grill I hoped it would be. I certainly didn’t expect to be paying Michelin prices for my dinner! Starters were between £11-16, steaks £16-40 (Wagyu – not halal – at a premium price of £68), other mains were around £20-30. The pre and post theatre menu is much more reasonably priced but the timings are a little awkward.

The Verdict: Happy to have found a new restaurant in central London that serves good halal steak (the journeys to Meat and Co in Westfield have become a bit tiresome). The service at Christopher’s was polite but the price-tags on the dishes were a bit hefty for the portions that were being served. I would recommend this as a good business restaurant, it was sophisticated but the ambience was not particularly lively or relaxing. Will I be back?.. I probably will because the meat was tasty, but it will most likely be for the cheaper theatre set menu next time!

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