Sophie’s Steakhouse sits concerningly close to Piccadilly Circus and the theatres of Shaftesbury Avenue. It took over the site of the Moulin Theatre, a Great Windmill Street haunt that showed soft pornography and Carry On films up until 1990. The restaurant is divided between two cavernous rooms: the first has a central bar, low lighting and looming white walls; the second room, where we were seated, was roomier and gave us chance to watch the chefs in the semi-open kitchen. The fire-pit beside us wasn’t in action when we visited but I imagined it would be fun to watch the chefs throwing hunks of meat on the fire.
The restaurant is the second opening from owners Sophie Bathgate and Rupert Power, whose initial plan was to serve fantastic steaks and signature martinis, emulating the great steakhouses of New York. Its launch in Chelsea in 2002 immediately drew in meat lovers, despite its no-booking policy and short menu. Now, things have moved on. Both Chelsea and Soho branches are all-day dining affairs where you can choose from small plates, salads and sandwiches, as well as fish and meat specials. Nonetheless, the classic cuts — ribeye, fillet, bavette, rump and Porterhouse — still take centre stage on the menu, alongside a note suggesting you ask about the butcher’s cut roasted on the pit. All their meat is sourced locally, dry-aged and butchered in-house.
The small plates offer good options for starters and sharers; they’re a mix of meat, fish and vegetable plates, including crispy squid, beetroot carpaccio and buttermilk chicken wings. Pit roast beef croquettes were fried crisply while inside gave way a soft béchamel mush of meaty flavours. The croquettes lay atop the horseradish mayonnaise, making it an integral part of the dish and unlucky for those who dislike the sauce. Colchester rock oysters were a pleasant and novel addition on the menu, served in a wickedly sharp red wine and shallot vinegar.
Rightly or wrongly, many steakhouses often cop out on other dishes with the thinking you wouldn’t visit a steak restaurant if you didn’t fancy a steak. Sophie’s serves up other brilliant options ‘from the fire pit’: a whole roast sea bream, diver-caught scallops, and beef short rib that I almost chose. We ordered the Chateaubriand to share, a 20oz tenderloin cut supplied by Philip Warren, one of the UK’s leading butchers. Hunks of thick, lean, medium-rare steak were fanned out on the plate. The tender meat had a pleasingly crunchy and smoked on the outside and cooked impeccably on the inside. A Valerserrano Rioja Crianza was the deep fruity red our server assured us was the perfect match for the Chateaubriand. Béarnaise sauce, fat juicy mushrooms and a decent serving of salty chips were simple but brilliant sides to the succulent steak dish.
My initial, concerned steakhouse-in-the-West-End expectations were refuted by a brilliant, carefully cooked steak, quiet but impeccable service, and zero anxieties about being booted out prematurely so they could seat the next busload of tourists.
To book visit SophiesSteakhouse.com/Soho or call 020 7836 8836
For more date night inspiration, click here.