VALUE FOR MONEY: 7/10
VENUE & ATMOSPHERE: 6.8/10
NOTE: ALL MEAT IS HALAL, NO PORK IS SERVED ON THE PREMISES, BUT ALCOHOL IS SERVED.
Despite loving surprises, I don’t make things easy for my husband. Every time he attempts to surprise me, I always manage to guess, or ‘accidentally’ force it out of him (which translates to ‘throwing a b**** fit because I don’t get that he’s trying to surprise me until he gets so frustrated he ends up telling me). On this occasion, he almost managed to pull it off, by taking me to Bake st for brunch. But alas! Upon our arrival, we found out the kitchen was closed until early September…well I did say ‘almost’.
Now that lunch was fast approaching and we had to think on our feet, I suggested Cristina’s Steakhouse in Barking town. He pointed out that having steak for lunch seemed a bit much, but I assured him that Cristina’s claimed to be rather laid back and casual (and was secretly hoping that their prices would reflect this).
Be warned, the parking is extortionate by the restaurant as it is essentially located within the the town center. The restaurant was pretty empty for a Saturday afternoon. The decor was a mixture of luxury and quirkiness, which was a change from your usual Rustic American diner-esque halal steakhouses.
Were were served straight away with the lunch menu. I had already seen what I wanted from their Instagram page: the steak frites, which included prime bistro steak (cooked medium rare), chips and salad (£8.50). ShakerFries opted for the smoked BBQ brisket burger (which included beef brisket smoked for 24 hours with homemade BBQ sauce and chilies in a brioche bun) and fries (£8.00). We both also ordered the homemade lemonade to accompany our meals.
The food took around 15 or so minutes to arrive, but I would say it was definitely worth the wait! At first glance I noticed that both the portion sizes were a little small, mainly due to the fact that they weren’t overly generous with the fries. Nonetheless, ShakerFries and I decided to share our meals so we could enjoy both dishes. I absolutely LOVED my steak frites. The steak had a beautifully seasoned crust, and was tender and juicy inside. The fries were actually also delicious and crisp, I just wish there was a bit more! Although that being said, where can you buy good quality steak and chips for £8.50? ShakerFries burger was also far from disappointing. Of all the halal burger joints I had visited and tried the pulled brisket burger, this was BY FAR the BEST! The pulled beef was just INCREDIBLE. It was melt in your mouth fantastic, the brioche was soft and buttered nicely, and the homemade BBQ sauce added beautifully complimentary flavors alongside the brisket. The only sad thing was that it had to end.
Despite my initial reservations on the meal size, I was content after my meal, and I would say it is just about enough to fill you up for lunch. However, given that their menu is much more extensive on the dinner menu, I think I would return here again to try that instead. Obviously you would pay a bit more for dinner, but I suspect that the portion sizes would also be a bit bigger.
In conclusion, I absolutely loved Cristina’s. It is excellent value for money (the total bill came to £20 for 2!), tastes amazing, and definitely has a different vibe compared to other steaks/burger places. I would happily eat either a steak OR a burger from here again. The quality of meat is some of the best I have tasted in a while, the service was very good, and I liked the atmosphere. This is certainly one for you if you are a great lover of meat!