MASH London, Soho
Despite having to bypass two sets of hostesses to descend into an emporium of leather and whiskey, everyone at MASH looks remarkably at ease, happy and unperturbed by price or pomp. Walking into the bar feels like a paean to Mad Men, corporate huddles waiting for 8 person booths and the odd dater snacking nervously on popcorn and nursing a Star Hill Negroni as they wait for their date. Originally opened in Copenhagen, MASH is an American steak house with a Danish accent. This might account for the fact that, brashness aside, it makes for an ambient, pleasing experience – masculine US dining with a cosmopolitan relief.
MASH also knows a thing or two about branding – not a seat in the house will escape the deluge of red upholstery, complementing solid wood furniture, low-lit tables and intimate booths. Break focus for a moment to look around and you’re as likely to see a table of hedge funders kicking back as you are an A List celeb stopping for photos with a tourist, a blogger and a drunk. Central London, you crack me up.
Who knew steak was such a complex beast. Choose from a Uruguayan cut, a Danish, an American or the beer-massaged Wagyu beef. Or better still, order 3 steaks to share and spot the difference – from the marbled, fatty American cuts to the tender, sweeter Danish. Starters are good but less necessary (tuna tartar, rich foie gras) – perhaps just share a Caesar salad as you start on the red wine. With your steaks, order a mac and cheese, chilli spiced fries and green beans you’ll forget to touch. Dessert is an afterthought but play with a crème brûlée as you polish things off with a bourbon cocktail.
On a Wednesday, the vibe is just right, punters buzzing off the fact that this is rather indulgent for mid-week dining. The coat check and myriad hostesses provide a little too much admin to kick start a date so meet by the bar once you’ve nailed the obstacle course. Gents, wear your best suit and a red dogtooth tie. Ladies, err on the Danish side of fashion and choose minimalist elegance (black cashmere and leather) over secretarial pencil skirts. After drinks by the bar, head to the booth and let the waiters guide you through the wine and steaks. Get into character and turn the chat instantly to love, sex and money. Role play this out, letting the gents dish out the food and pour the wine. Hell, he can even stand when you go to the powder room. Smile and chat with fellow diners as you wait for your coats upstairs, then spring a last minute visit to Mark’s Bar at HIX for a nightcap and a kiss in the basement.
Like most good steak houses it requires a corporate expense account or a healthy attitude to paying for meat. It’s also a little showy for a first date.
It’s a solid 5.