Orange Elephant in Chelsea is a restaurant devoted to the love of one thing: steak
Opening its doors just in time for Christmas, Orange Elephant is a restaurant that knows what it’s about. Steak. In an area of Chelsea that already boasts a number of good places to eat, Head Chef Jai Parkinson has set his first restaurant apart by choosing not to have a menu. The vision is simply to cook ‘succulent steak to perfection’.
The name is not as leftfield as it sounds: all the beef comes from the largest of our native breeds of cattle, the South Devon. Their size and deep coppery-red coats gives them their nickname. All the meat supplied to the restaurant is carefully selected and aged for at least 32 days by Orange Elephant’s Crediton-based butcher before being driven to the Fulham Road to be cooked and served.
We were greeted by the manager, who welcomed us and led us to the bar. The long, narrow layout of the restaurant doesn’t allow for much intimacy but does make the bar easily accessible; as you enter your eyes are drawn to the open kitchen at the far end where you can watch Jai and his team busily searing steaks on the charcoal-fuelled ‘Big Green Egg’ barbecues. The décor is minimal, clearly intended to compliment the simplicity of the food, but lacking any real link back to the steak’s origins in the Devon countryside.
In reality there is something else on the menu: the starter is a tasty but uncomplicated walnut salad. Intentionally so, as it allows the palate to remain fresh for the main course. The 12oz sirloin steaks followed, served with hand-cut chips and a ‘secret’ sauce, the recipe of which is closely guarded by Jai. The steak was superb, charred on the edges whilst maintaining all the juices that give the meat its flavour. The steak is quite enough as is, but if you want something special you can opt for the 1.5kg, £80 ‘Tomahawk’ steak, which is served on the bone and intended for sharing between four. The restaurant prides itself in pairing its wines with its food, and the bar. The variety of beers available is also excellent.
Why a vegetarian would ever visit a steakhouse is a mystery to me, but there is also an option if you don’t want steak – macaroni cheese with truffle oil. A great combination of flavours served piping hot, this is also available as a side. My companion, a sportsman with a big appetite, consumed his steak and chips with such speed that the little copper pots of ‘mac n cheese’ were a welcome addition.
For dessert we went for Orange Elephant ice cream, which is made by the Taverner family on their farm just outside Exeter. South Devon cows produce less milk than common dairy cows but their milk is much creamier, and it is a delight to eat proper Devonshire ice cream after a proper Devonshire steak.
There has been a fashion for a couple of years in the capital for restaurants that do one or two things only, from Burger & Lobster to Dirty Burger and Arancini Brothers, and perhaps the logical next step is to have no menu at all. The best thing about this restaurant is that it is uncomplicated and what it does do it does incredibly well. You can order a steak in most decent restaurants with a great variety of choice, but cooking a proper steak is an art and it’s to which this place is devoted.