Everything about The Palm is on the big side: the steaks, the burgers, the desserts...the bill

The Palm, 1 Pont Street, London SW1, tel: 020 7201 0710

Eating out with a kid can mean either something fast and unfulfilling – somewhere we have to refer to in our house as "Les arches d'or" to disguise our destination – or somewhere smart where the adults try to relax while the nippers get bored.

At The Palm, new London outpost of the "classic American steakhouse" chain, I thought I'd cracked it. The New York original, which I'd visited for a strip steak and fries years ago, is great – all dim lighting, comfortingly familiar dishes and a caricature-laden décor to distract youngsters.

We rock up to Pont Street's Palm ready to savour something that combines the ease of a steak joint with the sense of occasion that comes with visiting a historic landmark.

The interior is almost a facsimile of the New York original (opened in 1926 and still run by the same two families), with cartoon faces smiling down at diners – everyone from Popeye to Hugh Grant. The dark-wood panelling works, as do the crisp white tablecloths. But at 1pm last Sunday, the place was eerily quiet, and deathly cold. They seem to have that US over-air-conditioned atmosphere to a T; mercifully, our helpful waiter does offer to crank up the heat.

To the menu: a symphony of American greats. Steak is the main event, but there's lobster, crabcakes, Caesar salad and burgers too – everything a New York wannabe or expat would want. In fact, the few other occupied tables ring out with Yank accents. As wannabes, we try to cover as much ground as possible. The 10-year-old wants, as per, a burger. There's no kids' menu, which is disappointing for a family-run and angled place, but she assures me she'll eat it all up. We'll see.

The burger doesn't have a measurement, unlike the steaks. You can order an off-menu 7oz filet or sirloin, but we're hungry, and order one 10oz each, with hash browns and spinach on the side. Side orders are served "family style for two" but half orders are available... Why not make them smaller? I guess it's an American thing.

In retrospect, perhaps starters weren't a good idea. Mr M's lobster cocktail (£13) is generous, and well seasoned with chopped avocado, tomato and spring onions. My Slater Special (£11.50) consists of a crabcake the size of a tennis ball and one shrimp Bruno (no, not that one) in a little lake of mustard sauce. Even the tweenager wants seconds of that.

Inevitably, the burger is the size of a Frisbee, and half goes uneaten – but not before I have taken a bite. It's a splendid specimen, properly ground steak with a properly soft bun and, as requested, ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard on the side.

My filet is, of course, enormous. Ordered medium (and we all know how wide that category can be), it is pleasingly charred on the outside, graduating to a pink centre. No mean feat, I know from my own attempts, and I've never tried to cook a steak the size of a house brick. It doesn't taste like a brick, but filet is always the "texture over taste" cut and this is no exception. I can confirm that the sirloin is the real deal – marbled with fat and lots of flavour. The Palm "proudly serves aged USDA prime beef", which is the highest-grade meat you can get in the USA.

But, dear god, the prices. The filet is £39; the sirloin £35. And that doesn't include those side dishes, which are delicious (I even ask the chef for the secret of the hash browns, which is steaming the potatoes before frying, apparently).

We share a monolithic New York cheesecake, which is again the real deal with that microscopic hint of sourness that I love, and well worth £6.50 because it's easily enough for three.

So, no one managed the fabled "surf and turf" that is a fixture of such places – The Palm in New York sells 25,000lbs of lobster a week. But with that, we would've had to have been rolled out of the door.

The Palm has a celebrity following – Bono and Mickey Rourke can certainly afford the exorbitant steaks. Me? I'd definitely come back for a burger and fries (the house bargain at £12), but I'd rather buy a rib of organic beef that serves six for the price of a single steak at The Palm.


Scores: 1-9 stay home and cook, 10-11 needs help, 12 ok, 13 pleasant enough, 14 good, 15 very good, 16 capable of greatness, 17 special, can't wait to go back, 18 highly honourable, 19 unique and memorable, 20 as good as it gets

The Palm, 1 Pont Street, London SW1, tel: 020 7201 0710. Monday, dinner only; Tuesday-Sunday, lunch and dinner. About £120 for two people, including wine and service

Second helpings: Sensational steakhouses

Champany Inn

Linlithgow, East Lothian, tel: 01506 834 532

If you're looking for a classic red-meat experience, this celebrated inn (also famous for its wine list) is hard to beat; prices are eye-watering, though

Santa Maria del Sur

129 Queenstown Road, London SW8, tel: 020 7622 2088

Is there better steak in London? Brilliant, if very basic, this is a Battersea meat-eaters' haven

Hudson Bar & Grill

14 London Street, Bath, tel: 01225 332 323

A solid operation, in a culinary desert, this friendly and helpful pub-conversion is of particular note for its fantastic steaks (and great grills generally). A good wine list too

Reviews extracted from 'Harden's London and UK Restaurant Guides 2009'

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot