Food is paramount. Service next and the atmosphere the cherry on top. That’s how I’ve always viewed the pecking order of what makes a restaurant great. Without great food you have nothing, nobody goes back to a restaurant thinking ‘Well the food was awful, but wasn’t that waiter nice’. Just doesn’t happen. And the atmosphere, well that’s equally about who you’re with than the sort of vibe you arrive to.
I’ve now learnt otherwise. Descending into the deepest darkest vaults of Mash, you arrive into a veritable cavern of red leather banquettes, displays of meat, dance music on some kind of permanent repeat cycle and a lot of twinkling glass. And no other diners. That part is really our fault – we’ve chosen to have a late weekend lunch after emptying the bank account at neighbouring Regent St and clearly this is outside of peak dining times, but it’s just us. Only the lonely us.
I can’t say I’m really warming to the cavern, perhaps it’s different with a few more people rattling around, but it resembles an ageing Vegas nightclub with all that red. But enough decor whinging, let’s talk service. The waiter who serves us tells us it is quite unusual to be so quiet and agrees that it’s thanks to our strange dining time that the place is desserted, but I think Mash doesn’t really lend itself well to passers by. The streets of Soho are mobbed, neighbouring establishments are still at least half full, but I think the descent into the cavern is off putting for the passing trade. Perhaps that’s how they like it.
Any last hope the waiter may have had at having something is dashed when I ask for water. I’m just not in the mood for a wine or cocktails and I’m thirsty, but the look of horror on his face convinces me that I need to make the move towards a juice at the very least. They offer to make me up a virginal juice cocktail which I suspect is just so they’ll have something to do.
We opt for the lunch special, £22 including mains and starters so first up comes the Caesar Salad and Charcuterie board. The Caesar salad is delicious, just the right blend of croutons, rich sauce and anchovies. The charcuterie on the other hand is nothing special, it’s a collection of salami’s easily sourced from your nearest supermarket.
For mains, I go for the classic Rib Eye and we share some Mac and Cheese and a little bit more of the divine Caesar salad. I would have liked the plates to look a little bit less lonely, adorned as they were with just the one steak. However, there’s no denying the quality of the food. The steak was cooked exactly as I wanted and Mac and cheese was rich and creamy with the addition of bacon bits adding a meaty richness.
We enjoy our meal but I’m not tempted to linger on for dessert, the depths of the dark while it’s sunny outside is motivating me to seek some gelato above ground. Would I be back? I’ve been reading a lot of rave reviews and I won’t deny that I did enjoy the food, but I think if I do give it another chance it will be at night and with a lot of people in tow so the staff can set to work mixing up some cocktails while I try and get past all that red leather.
Have you been? What did you think? I’d love to know, drop me a line below.