Butchers Steak and Grill

Elderslie

I CONFESS that I completely miss the glass-fronted fridges with their drying steaks when I walk in. Goodness knows how: they’re huge with the sort of darkly aged and magnificently marbled meat that I haven’t seen since I watched that quirkily French Netflix documentary on Jose Gordon and the giant Rubia Gallega cattle that apparently provide the best steaks in the whole wide world.

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But then my attention was more drawn to the fact this place is mobbed, on a Tuesday night, with a genuine Scottish blizzard startling everyone outside. A blizzard that made the journey up the M8 interesting but also meant that Sean here took the executive decision to order on my behalf. “I ordered chateaubriand,” he says, as I dust off the snowflakes and sit down beside him.

I’ll confess again: I gulp at that. The last chateaubriand I had being at Champany in Linlithgow when it was in its Michelin-starred pomp. Everything about it was utterly memorable. Especially the price.

Anyway, it’s something of a historic dinner tonight, Mr Guthrie here for many years and right up to last week having been the very man who subbed this very column – with only the occasional deep sigh.

It’s churlish therefore to consider price when the purpose is to thank him for his wry expertise before he heads off to work on movies, or the internet or whatever it is people do post-newspapers these days.

The future therefore is what we’re discussing as our bubbly, cheery waitress nips off to the kitchen to establish just how big the chateaubriand is going to be.

Now that I’ve noticed it’s actually going to be a – relatively – reassuringly miserly £44. And it, of course, serves two. Forty to 50 ozs, she returns to tells us. Crikey.

The meat arrives in four seared sliced slabs, running from charred to gloriously pink to deeper red and ending with the faintest blush of purple in the middle; perfect. I think they hang for 44 days here which is out there in the tenderising, maturing and improving stakes – though the Spanish and some crazy Americans go for longer. The meat is flawless anyway, slicing cleanly and softly; full of flavour, outstanding texture.

It’s at this point I look behind Sean’s head and realise there’s a little window into a meat drying chamber beyond. And another one over there. This is actually a temple to meat in an age where every restaurant in food land claims they can do a steak – and usually can’t.

Right around now the waitress is telling us how the butcher shop just down the road is where this all began with the owners going on to to add a cafe and then this rip-roaring success.

She then reveals that the famous restaurant critic Mr Tam Cowan actually visited here and it was he who put the place on the map. What’s more she actually served him. Look she says, there’s his photo on the wall. And so it is. That entertaining aside dealt with – and he was apparently a great customer if you are wondering – we return to our onion rings and fat chips.

What are these sides like then? I’ll be upfront here: this place is all about the steak. The chips and rings are fine, but we barely touched the bowl of creamed leeks – not very appetising. As for the Mac ’n’ cheese? Kind of forgettable.

To start though we had a trio of pork – slow-braised cheek, belly and tenderloin – and it startled us mainly because it seemed such a small portion. But then it turned out it was only £4.95. A reasonable seared pigeon breast in juniper and red wine jus was a pound more expensive at £5.95. So no over-pricing here.

There are Arbroath Smokie fishcakes, lamb rump, risotto and even fish and chips on the menu, but frankly why would you?

The steak is what this is all about. And the steak alone is worth the visit.

Butchers Steak and Grill

133 Main Road

Elderslie

01505 336710

Menu: Many things but frankly it’s all about the properly aged, well-hung and splendid-looking steaks. 4/5

Atmosphere: Smallish, hustly and bustly with steaks being slowly aged and properly dried on display. Pleasant feel. 4/5

Service: Cheery, bubbly waitresses clearly enjoy their jobs and have a good handle on what they are serving. 5/5

Price: That chateaubriand was £44 including some sides, at that price and that quality, exceptional value. 5/5

Food: The chateaubriand was outstanding. An informed guess would say other steaks will be too, sides not so much. 8/10

Total 26/30