Owner Tom McNeile led a colourful life before opening his first restaurant, Arlo’s, a neighbourhood steak place just off Balham’s buzzing high street. Having worked as a fisherman in the unforgiving waters off Russia’s coast, he traded it in to work in the City before managing L’Atelier des Chefs for five years.
Arlo’s has a pared-back, casual feel – whitewashed brick walls hand-painted with a huge ‘A’, simple furnishings and an open kitchen. The menu is simple, with just three ‘butcher’s cuts’ offered; bavette, seven bone and deckle, alongside a selection of sauces and sides. A dish of salty, blistered padron peppers is the perfect thing to nibble with a glass of wine from the small but well-chosen list while you decide.
All steaks here are first cooked sous-vide then finished on the grill to get that all-important char. Bavette is often a little coarse and chewy, but being cooked this way allows the fibres to soften and the brilliant, iron-rich flavour to shine through. A little more luxurious is 28-day-dry-aged deckle. Taken from the rib-eye cap, this cut is often referred to as ‘butcher’s butter’ and with its rich, tender, flavourful meat it’s obvious why.
Sauces range from well-made classics (bernaise, peppercorn), to house special burning bear (a spicy tomato sauce), which was inspired, apparently, by a rather close call in Canada.
This casual joint is delivering great-quality steaks at a fraction of the price of some competitors – a great addition to the neighbourhood.
Words: Sarah Kingsbury, October 2016
1 Ramsden Road