After hearing that city businessman John Stirk – he of meat pack fame – had taken over the former Wavendon pub, I was keen to have a butchers and see what he’d done with the Wavey. But so too was everyone else, it seems.
I’d tried twice previously to book at the new Broadway steakhouse, which has been opened by butcher John and business partner Richard Cooney, but to no avail as it was fully-booked. Moral of the story: make sure you book well ahead.
Third time lucky, and though we took our seats on a Wednesday night, the place had more of a Friday night feel, with a mixture of mid-week drinkers and diners. Fans of this landmark pub needn’t fret: it’s still got a bar at the front of the site with all the trappings of such, including a pub quiz on the night we visited. But the pub element doesn’t intrude on the restaurant area, which occupies the back of the large site.
The steakhouse section has its own seating and identity, which has certainly given the place more of a ‘special’ feel than its old guise. It’s trendy, but still has bags of character. Think leather booths, exposed brickwork and industrial-style fittings, alongside shelves peppered with tankards from local breweries and a feature wall of chopping boards and platters scrawled with slogans such as ‘raising the steaks’ and ‘You can’t trust a skinny butcher”. There’s no mistaking this is an independent business and not a bland chain.
The menu boasts plenty of character too. Naturally, steaks dominate. But there’s a well thought out range of other choices too, such as grilled lime salmon with coconut rice and grilled cauliflower steak. Both put up a valiant attempt at swaying me, but I stuck with meat for mains.
Ahead of that, we shared a farmhouse platter, which proved great value at £11.95. For our pounds we got a giant scotch egg (with a satisfyingly runny centre) with plenty of apple sauce for dunking, a whopping black pudding croquette (carnivore heaven), a tin of rosemary chips and a good sized round of gooey Camembert with bread. Portions are supersize here, it’s stretchy waistband stuff.
So to the mains. At a restaurant owned by a butcher you expect the steak to be better than your average, and it was certainly that.
I chose the 8oz fillet of steak (£19.95), cooked medium rare, an expensive dish, but one I’ve paid more for in other places. Each steak comes with chips and salad, but I swerved the chips in favour of extra salad.
It was beautifully-executed: a baby pink centre with a slightly caramalised exterior. It was incredibly juicy and would have sufficed without any accoutrements, but I couldn’t resist repeated dunks in the Stirks sticky BBQ sauce (£2) which was a moreish balance of sweet and tangy.
Special mention must also go our side of halloumi fries (£3.50), gloriously chewy strips of cheese which were as good as they sound.
Steakhouses have become a competitive market in the area of late with a flurry of them opening up, but Stirks certainly sticks out.