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For goodness steak: Get it right

If you're a chef, you should get steak right

Reader review: Marco Pierre White’s

Irish restaurants can’t cook steak. Even Irish steakhouses can’t cook steak. Over the weekend, my sister Barbara Moran fell victim to this peculiarly Irish problem, in Marco Pierre White’s on Dawson Street:

The starter was great but me and Keith both ordered T-bone steaks and at €33 a pop you would expect it to be perfect. We both asked for medium to well done and I explained to them that because I’m pregnant I should be having it cooked through so to make it closer to well done then medium.

So, steaks come out. Mine was barely medium and had lots of blood! No way could I eat it so I called the waiter, explained and asked them to cook it more. Now I was without my dinner and Keith had his (which incidentally was barely medium too, with some bits of the steak rare, and the sauce which he asked for on the side is all over the steak). He told the waiter when I was sending mine back but said he didn’t mind too much and kept it.

By the time my steak came back Keith was almost finished, and I was filling myself up eating a bowl of chips because I was starving and I didn’t want Keith to be eating by himself. I cut the steak and it was EXACTLY the same, and not hot so I don’t even think it saw the grill.

Now I had my steak, exactly the same way with a fresh chips and another pepper sauce! The maitre’d came over and asked was it okay; I told him it was exactly the same. When it arrived for the third time, it was still not really medium well, definitely more medium. I had also ordered fried onions which arrived at the start of the meal but by the time I had sorted the steak saga and eaten two bowls of chips I had forgotten about them and they were cold. All very annoying given it was meant to be our anniversary dinner, and probably our last meal out for a while before the baby arrives.

They didn’t charge us for my steak – we wouldn’t have been paying even if they did – and they must have apologised about ten times but the meal was spoilt for us by not being able to eat together.

Dessert was delicious though. Sticky toffee pudding, which arrived about 30 seconds after we ordered it (no exaggeration).

Dissapointing and don’t think I would go back after that. It’s meant to be a steakhouse and it worries me that they can’t even get steak right or basics like requests for sauce on the side.

I should point out that Keith had eaten in Marco Pierre White’s a few times previously, and never had any cause for complaint.

I’ve stuck to a simple steak rule for Irish restaurants, and it’s never let me down. Want medium rare? Ask for rare. Want medium well? Ask for medium. And so on. I’d throw the rule out for places like Shanahan’s, but far too many restaurants fail on this most basic score.

Have you been given a badly cooked steak? And where have you had a really good one?


  1. I ate out a bit while pregnant.. Considering you are pregnant would you not have ordered something else with less risk like chicken or a veggie dish or if you insist on eating steak ask for well done to be in the safe side.

  2. Baby due in two weeks, so probably safe enough for a medium well or well-done steak, and it should be taken as a given that a steakhouse will get the order right.

  3. Over-cooking is the problem I invariably have with steaks. The “simple rule” you offer here wouldn’t have helped Barbara–her steak was undercooked, not over-cooked. The restaurant should not have served her husband when she sent hers back and should have re-fired both.

    Personally, any steak past medium isn’t worth eating.

  4. I stopped reading after ” because I’m pregnant I should be having it cooked”.

  5. Why’s that now Claire?

  6. Love steak very well done so I always ask to serve it burnt!!

  7. Agree with R Norris, considering that you are pregnant, should you not have ordered something less risky? Unless you ask for very well cooked steak, it’s bound to be served rare because Marco Pierre White has trained using French cooking rules and steak should be served rare (I hate rare meat. In fact, I hate red meat, but if I really HAVE to eat some, I’d have it properly burnt). Irish restaurants tend to serve the meat medium to well cooked because of health regulations, but that’s not the case in other european countries (I don’t remember ever seeing a “steak tartare” on a menu here, do you?)

  8. Oh for God’s sake. Where are you all getting the idea that a steak is so awfully risky? Are pregnant women now deemed irreponsible for having a STEAK? Yes, ideally a steak should be rare/ medium/ medium rare, but if someone wants it well done, for whatever reason, give it to them. It’s a bizarre form of intolerance when someone forces their likes and dislikes on another. By the same token, I may not like pineapple on a pizza, but let people eat that crap if they see fit: it’s no more any of your business than what goes on in their bedroom

  9. calm down, Peter 🙂 No one is saying a pregnant woman is irresponsible for ordering a steak. All we said was that because you are not supposed to eat rare or uncooked meat during pregnancy, if you eat out you might face the issue that your sister faced: having a steak that is cooked according to the chef’s liking rather than hers. And in fairness, MPW is quite a pedantic type and he won’t give you pineapple on pizza if you ask for it. Even if you are the customer and pay for it.

  10. I agree on the rule of thumb of how to order steaks in Ireland, 90% of places don’t know how to cook it!

    Only one place I’ve had a nice steak (cooked medium – REAL medium as I had asked for):

    Merchant’s Arch in Temple Bar

    Maybe it was a fluke but it was so good I sent compliments to the chef and I never do that!

  11. Sorry Nanazolie, didn’t mean to get so het up! 🙂 I just think it must be hard enough giving up red wine and prawns and stuff. To not be able to go out for a steak – even a well-done steak if that’s the only option – is just too much. The restaurant should have been more accommodating – and surely they can just let their eyes roll and give the well-done steak to customers who want it that way, even if they’re not pregnant.

  12. I had a lovely steak, perfectly cooked, in Locks Brasserie in Portobello the other night. It had been so long since I received a steak cooked the way I ordered it that I got quite a pleasant surprise at the first mouthful.

  13. I never order steak when out as its so easy to cook at home. Its a bad reflection on a place if they can’t cook a steak properly!

  14. Have to say I’ve eaten steak on a number of occasions in Marco Pierre White’s and it’s been done exactly how I’ve asked for it ( which changes.. sometime I like it medium , sometimes medium to well depending on the cut. The last time was a busy Friday evening and the place was very busy.
    I’m not someone who would happily chew on an old boot or neither a slab of raw meat that’s been walked through a warm room.
    I did express concern on the 6 chips that arrived as a portion but the steak was perfect

  15. The only way to have a good steak is to cook it yourself and enjoy the pleasure of only forking out about 6-8 euro and spend a bit more than usual on a good wine ! 33 euro each is a lot for a main course these days.

  16. Rosie, sure, but this was obviously a very special occasion: anniversary and last chance before the baby arrives.

  17. Gotta say I’m a fan of rare steaks, JD’s in Terenure has never let me down when I have a craving and it hasn’t let me down yet! I’ve been with people who prefer well done meat and they have been happy with what they received. Friendly staff and limoncello seal the deal! And no I don’t work for em 🙂

    As for the whole steak or no steak when pregnant, meh its personal taste surely?