Look at that deliberately suspenseful post title! Haven't I come on since starting this blog last year? Soon I'll consider myself perfectly seasoned. Which I will not use as a segue into talking about my recent lunch at The Steak Company.
I've always liked people and businesses that love one thing, and do it really, really well. No dabbling in the mediocre, no trying to please everyone. For me as a consumer, knowing that a company is fully focused on, or obsessed with, creating the ideal whatever-it-might-be, makes me excited to be a part of their journey.
Nasha and Ashraf, the dizzyingly energetic husband and wife team who founded The Steak Company four years ago, have a huge passion for good, proper steaks, and they're providing exactly that at their restaurant in Bareeq Al Shatti. That's another pleasing thing to know about The Steak Company; it's a true family business. Not a franchise, not even a Big Family-type monolith, but a fiercely beloved and nurtured enterprise, with every detail attended to by the couple, from launch to suppliers to plating. You want dedication to a cause? Listen to this: not only did both Nasha and Ashraf work full time as waiters during the initial year of The Steak Company, but Nasha was closing up the place one day at 1am. At 5am, her waters broke. The Steak Company is a true labour of love.
(I didn't know all this when I went for my lunch there - I'd heard good things from friends, and puffed many a happy pipe over at Nasha and Ashraf's other baby, Moorish.)
The market in Oman is price-sensitive. Meaning, we're not likely to spend as freely as our Gulf neighbours, and we're more likely to be indifferent or unresponsive to quality. But there are people who can afford, and are willing and happy to pay for what they know is the very best of what's on offer. It's just one juicy sliver of the market, but a restaurant can thrive, offering amazing quality product and charging what it's worth, and that's good to see. The Steak Company's meat is all USDA certified grass-fed. And they have wagyu beef on the menu. The softest, most beautifully marbled, melting of all steaks. It's not cheap. If it was, I wouldn't eat it...you can't scrimp on wagyu. You get what you pay for. Instead of a cow that has been treated like a queen through its life, massaged and sung to, you'd have one that's just had some farmer drunkenly serenade and slap her on the rump.
After sharing starters (the beef carpaccio, and to some extent the Fiery Wagyu Meatballs, but I really can't tell you how they were because just bringing one to my lips made me cry. Fiery means Fiery.), we got down to the business of steak. I had the filet mignon. Carlos, the waiter, gave me an approving nod when I told him I wanted it medium rare, which made me glad I always do what the celebrity chefs on MasterChef tell me. And it was the best steak in Oman. It stood tall on the plate. It was pink and soft and yielding. It was served with an artful smear of chive butter, and a selection of sauces in tiny ramekins - chimichurri, pepper, mushroom and one Carlos put far away from me, having seen my system react to the Fiery starter. I tried each of the sauces and they were all tasty and fresh, but really there was no point gilding the lily.
Yes, the best steak I've ever had in Oman. A word of praise is also due to the humble potato dish that accompanied its more glamorous plate to the table. There are two things that go perfectly with a respectfully-cooked piece of beef, and one of them The Steak Company doesn't have a licence for. The other is mashed potatoes, which is a non-mover in my regularly updated What Would I Order For My Last Meal Before Execution list. These ones were awesome! Creamy, buttery, so flavourful they're worth a lethal injection.