Andreas Antona, the owner of Simpsons in Birmingham, is to open a second restaurant specialising in steaks.
The succinctly named Beef will be in Kenilworth, home of the original Simpsons before the Michelin-starred restaurant relocated to Edgbaston.
Beef is set to become a destination spot for dedicated carnivores, serving top quality meat from Scotland as well as delicious steaks from across the world. Diners will be able to select from a rotating menu of Highland cattle, United States prime beef, Australian Wagyu, Japanese Kobe and top breeds from Argentina.
In addition to the premium steaks, such as fillet, sirloin and T-bone, there will be cheaper dishes showcasing the rich flavours of rump cap and bavette, or skirt steak, which is popular in France. There will also be changing “du jour” dishes such as steak and ale pie and slow-cooked blade of beef.
Antona, aged 53, a veteran of luxury hotel kitchens such as The Dorchester and The Ritz, said it was his dream to open a no-frills steak restaurant specialising in informal dining.
He said: “Beef will do what it says on the tin. There is no beating about the bush.
“It will not be anything too complicated. There will be homemade chips like mum used to make. Bernaise sauce, pepper sauce.”
There will even be a prawn cocktail among the starters, in keeping with the revamped retro feel.
Antona’s love affair with steak houses can be traced to his father, Theo, who ran such a restaurant in west London in the 1970s, at the birth of the Berni Inn era, when tournedos Rossini ruled the culinary roost.
“I grew up in that background and it has been my lifelong passion to have a steak restaurant. My favourite dish is still steak and chips. I remember my granny cooking it for me as a kid.”
He added: “I have achieved a lot in my field and have only ever cooked at the top end but I want to go back to basics with a great brand.
“In view of what is going on in the world at the moment I think Beef encapsulates the time. People want comfort and a little more value for money. The new restaurant captures a lot of what I believe in.”
The 40-50 cover Beef is due to open at the end of the month at 11 Warwick Road in a site previously occupied by La Cucina Italian restaurant. Ian Miller, who previously worked at Simpsons in Kenilworth and latterly at the town’s Petit Gourmand, has been appointed head chef.
Starters will be fish inspired (smoked salmon with blinis and crème fraiche) and desserts will be “old-fashioned English” with American favourites. So expect steamed sponge puddings, banana split, cheesecake and waffles and maple syrup.
Although the steaks will be the main draw, there will also be classic dishes such as lobster and chips, fish and chips and a classic house burger, with toast instead of buns.
Antona, who has four children aged 14 to 20, added: “I don’t like burger buns so I don’t see why I should inflict them on everyone else. There’s no love in burger buns.”
Back to basics for the godfather of gastronomy
by Richard McComb
If you asked someone to take a punt on the type of restaurant Andreas Antona might open, you’d bank on them mentioning fine dining, emulsions, foie gras and a wine list capable of bankrupting a corporate law firm.
You probably wouldn’t expect them to talk about prawn cocktails, steak, jam roly-poly and carafes of vin ordinaire.
But Antona, Birmingham’s godfather of gastronomy, is going back to the future – and back to basics – for his new unadorned steak house, Beef.
The copiously talented Greek cockney has always worked at the fancy end of fancy dining but he has harboured ambitions of running his own steak restaurant since he was a nipper. The idea of the steak house took a battering in both lifestyle and health terms during the 1980s and 1990s. But post-BSE, the beef industry has cleaned up its act immeasurably, quality can be outstanding and consumers now appreciate that a regular, sensible intake of red meat isn’t going to kill them.
Antona, who despises the notion of paying reverence to over-inflated cooking, loves hearty food and good company in which to enjoy it. He has used this as the inspiration for Beef and the idea chimes brilliantly with our straitened times.
People may think twice about splashing out on the à la carte at upmarket restaurants (although there is no slackening of interest in Simpsons, twice voted Brum’s top dog in separate guides last month). But diners will always seek out honest, flavoursome, well-priced cooking.
As well as tapping into the trend for more low-key, simple dining, Beef will also appeal to the generation which was introduction to “slap up meals” at 70s steak houses.
Those same people are now professionals with their own children. And cash. As the winds of economic uncertainty continue to blow in, what could be more comforting than a stroll down to memory lane? With a Wagyu twist, of course.
I ask Antona if the atmosphere in Beef will be laid back.
“Horizontal,” he replies.