CREAGH/CARR REVIEW: Halfway House, Dunstable
The Creagh/Carr Review team - comprising seasoned hackette Bev Creagh and flamboyant news reporter Stewart Carr - turn their tastebuds to the newly refurbished Beefeater at Halfway House, formerly a Table Table pub with casual dining.
CREAGH SAYS ... I’m normally not a carnivore, but with the promise of 21 day aged steak, hand cut by master butchers and cooked by chefs who’ve graduated from the Beefeater Steak Academy, it would have been churlish to choose anything else on the menu, which also offers a good selection of fish, chicken, burgers and vegetarian options.
I went for the 8oz fillet, pricey at £19.79 but hey, why settle for less? Fillet is the only steak I’ve ever enjoyed - all the rest are a little too chewy for my liking. And what a good choice it was!
But I’m getting ahead of myself - starters first. I had classic prawn cocktail (£5.19) which more than lived up to its description of ‘sweet, juicy prawns served with a crisp lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad with our Marie Rose sauce and warm ciabatta.’
The ciabatta was fresh and delicious - a welcome alternative to the more usual (and mundane) brown bread.
There’s a decent selection of starters, including deep fried mushrooms, crispy chicken wings, duck pate, and a garlic prawn pan.
The steak comes with grilled mushroom, tomato and triple cooked chips, plus a choice of steak sauces from £1.49.
I went for triple peppercorn (someone in the kitchen is obviously into threesomes).
This was the only disappointment. It wasn’t rich and creamy, as I’d expected, but a bit floury and bland.
It’s a long time since I’ve had a steak and this was certainly worth the wait - rare, as ordered, melt-in-the-mouth and very more-ish.
The restaurant boasts ‘Unlimited triple cooked chips, veg medley or salad’ but if you’ve had a starter, and a steak, I’d defy anyone to ask for more.
In fact Stewart and I were so full after our first two courses, there was no way we could have even shared the house special - Gin & Tonic Lemon Trifle (£5.29).
He decided to round off the meal with an Irish coffee - £4.99, with a cheeky £2 added for a shot of Jamesons.
The bill came to a sizeable £82.91, but that did include two glasses of wine, two beers and a tea.
The menu is calorie calibrated on its lighter dishes and there are less expensive options.
Service was so slow to begin with but our waitress Sam was delightful, knowledgeable and very disappointed we didn’t try the trifle – her favourite!
CARR SAYS ... There’s nothing like a makeover outside to give a restaurant a fresh feel, but Halfway House’s transformation since converting to a Beefeater restaurant is more than just external.
It’s without doubt a steak lover’s delight. Looking at the menu, there’s a few vegetarian options such as the roast vegetable liguine [pasta] or the mixed bean salad that are tempting, but this really is a meat haven with a few chicken and gammon dishes thrown in for good measure.
For a starter, I chose the grilled koftas – two delicious meatballs of minced pork and beef, served with flatbread and a refreshing Greek salad of yoghurt, cucumber and mint dip, priced at a reasonable £5.19.
I think this is one of the best starters I have ever tasted, certainly the koftas themselves were soft and tender, with a caramelised surface and a taste within booming with flavours.
Like my colleague Bev, I’m not usually such a red meat fan and I was tempted by the paprika chicken option on the menu. But this is a review after all and it only felt right to sample one of the legendary steaks.
I of course went for the biggest one available, the 18oz porterhouse steak - priced at £21.99 – and certainly not for the faint of heart.
This was a very rich steak and it was with some Herculean effort I prevailed, sawing my knife through its juicy chunks up to the bone and I ended up feeling heartily satisfied. I doubt if I would normally have a starter as well with such a sizeable main meal, but it was cooked to perfection, served with a side salad and an option of chips or potatoes. Absolutely 10/10.
Halfway House IS part of the Whitbread group which also owns the Brache and Warden Beefeaters, as well as The Horse and Jockey on at the A5
The 174 cover restaurant is dominated by a ‘map’ of a steer amusingly divided into geographical areas such as Bit on the Side, Mr Loin, Thunder Thighs and Tasty Bottom. The restaurant is located at 350 Luton Road, Dunstable, and is open from 6.30am on weekdays (7am at the weekend) and last orders are 10.30pm weekdays and 11pm on Saturday.