Finding a good steak restaurant in England can be tricky. The UK doesn’t have the best reputation for good food, but the Rare Cow Steakhouse in Suffolk could be the exception to show that it’s not all just fish and chips and the mysterious “Full English in a Tin”.
Wait, what’s that? Full English in a Tin? What? Tinned breakfast? That’s right, folks. If you’ve ever explored the baked beans section of an English supermarket, you might have come across this oddity.
And if you went to uni in England, you might’ve just eaten it!
From within its tomatoey depths, you will find tiny sausages, weird pork and egg cutlet things, something that’s similar to bacon and of course baked beans. I know. Not the UK’s finest culinary hour.
Thankfully there are places like The Rare Cow Steakhouse that offset this heinous tinned freak.
It was my last night in England where I was spending Christmas and new year with my mum and dad. They decided, to see me off, we should go somewhere nice. Somewhere different.
The Rare Cow Steakhouse, Sudbury, Suffolk
The Rare Cow is a small chain of steak restaurants in southeast England. The beef is all from local Dexter cattle, which Gordon Ramsey himself is quoted as saying it’s the finest tasting beef in the UK.
With all this in mind (the beef, not the breakfast in the tin), Mum, Dad and I make our way to the Rare Cow in the Boathouse in Sudbury, Suffolk.
This place is right on the banks of the River Stour and will be an absolutely awesome place to come in the summer for a bit of al fresco dining. But as it’s winter, we get cosy inside.
This venue has only been open since late September, so we forgive some of the elements that aren’t quite right. The cow print wall tiles don’t really do it for us and the beat-heavy dance music’s a bit out of context. But the service is friendly, prompt and thorough.
Dinner starts with Dad and I devouring our duck pâte, which comes with the most delicious home-baked ciabatta bread. The bread’s so tender, your teeth barely touch it.
We ask for some more, and the head chef Iggy – a lively Italian gent from Sardinia – brings it out himself.
Mum, meanwhile is polishing off her entrée of juicy pan seared roe-on scallops and crispy pork belly.
We’ve all chosen well so far.
For mains, Mum decides against having a steak, much to my confusion. Until she announces she might try the lobster thermidor!
Well played, Mum. The whole lobster, sliced and covered with a well-blended creamy brandy and cheese sauce, is tender and well cooked. The shell on the claws is thin and easy to break through. Even for Mum’s Carpal Tunnel.
Dad has gone for the T-bone. An enormous steak – cooked perfectly to his liking – displaying the best parts of the tenderloin and short loin either side of the bone.
I’ve ordered the prime rib on the bone. At 16oz (450g) it’s a large steak (though I’ve had bigger) and very generously cut. The meat is sweet, tender and beautifully cooked.
Both our steaks are so well rested even though we both ask for medium-rare, there’s no blood on the plate at all. My dad, who’s eaten in some very swank restaurants and steakhouses in his time as a city slicker, devoured his steak and nodded.
“That’s the best steak I’ve had in England,” he confided. Good enough for me.
Oh and by the way, I’d come back here just for the chips!
We consider the dessert menu for about a millisecond before holding out tummies and shaking our heads. It’s not a good idea – especially with my 23-hour flight the next day.
It’s been a beautiful meal, and a lovely way to spend the last night I have with Mum and Dad. One of the absolute highlights of my trip back home.
The Rare Cow Steakhouse at the Boathouse
Good for: romantic meal, catch-up with friends, special family dinner
Thought I should explain that the name Rare Cow is attributed to the restaurants only using Dexter cattle, which were previously on the rare breeds list.
Do you have any recommendations for UK restaurants? Where’s the best steak you’ve ever eaten? Tell us in the comments!