Unlike The Somerset there are many restaurants in the UK that charge too much for a grilled steak. Even if the meat is described as “local”, “free range”, “organic”, “hung on the bone for 21 days” etc. it can often be an unsatisfying experience. Furthermore if you factor in the extra cost of vegetables / salad / potatoes / chips there can be quite a hefty price tag. One can request the amount of cooking ie. rare, medium rare etc. but the result is often not quite what you had hoped for, except in those really expensive places where the chefs are paid to take more care !
Enter the concept of “steak on a stone”, which my family and I first enjoyed on a holiday in Madeira. There the waitstaff bring to the table a generously sized cut of tender steak that has been marinated in garlic, sea salt and pepper and coated in a little olive oil. The (raw) steak is served sizzling on a block of smooth stone that has been heated to about 380 deg.C in a special oven.
Typically the meal includes a satisfying amount of a potato side dish, a salad, and three or four dipping sauces in individual small dishes. The whole meal is presented to you as a set on a large, thick wooden board.
It’s recommended you take the steak off the stone as early as possible to avoid overcooking its underside, and place it to the side on the wooden board. Then with a sharp knife slice off a small piece, sear it quickly, both sides, on the hot stone, dip it in one of the sauces and enjoy. It’s mouthwateringly delicious !
The dry, searing cooking process means that all the natural flavour remains trapped inside the steak, and you can cook it exactly as you like, with every mouthful enjoyed piping hot as if it were the first.
The Somerset in Marston offers their version of a “steak on a stone” meal at a very reasonable price, this despite promoting itself primarily as a Chinese restaurant. We live close by and make regular visits there to enjoy their delicious food.
The decor and image of the Somerset is not particularly to our taste, but the staff more than make up for it with their cheerful, friendly and attentive manner. The restaurant is often not very busy when we go there but you should definitely not be put off by that either. The food is always excellent, and if you try their “Black Rock Stone Grill” you may find yourself wanting never to eat steak in any other way again !