Restaurant review: Don BeniBy Hugh Fort
September 12, 2012
While the abundance of Italian food found in Wokingham is often tasty and made to a very high standard, sometimes you just want steak.
So, when a restaurant says they are adding the steak-cooking skills of the Argentinians to their already top-notch Italian menu, you’ve got to take a look haven’t you?
So I popped down to Wokingham’s Don Beni which has done exactly that.
The Denmark Street restaurant has added a huge indoor coal grill to expertly cook huge hunks of beef.
You can go the whole hog and have a starter and main from the new Argentinian menu or mix and match with some Italian dishes.
Despite the sturdy geographical distance between Europe and South America, Argentina is chock-full of Italian families.
Anyone who knows about rugby will know the Italian team often has a number of Argentinians, as well as Australians who once drank a glass of Chianti, but that’s beside the point.
I went to Don Beni’s dreaming of huge steaks and my girlfriend and I were not disappointed. We were shown to a table so close to the grill you could hear the slabs of beef sizzling away.
Before we could get properly stuck in there was the matter of a starter.
I had two Empanadas (£5.95), traditional Argentinian pasties filled with chicken and beef. Both delicious, the beef one was well spiced.
My girlfriend, about as vegetarian as a salt-water crocodile, went veggie. Perhaps she’d seen me unwittingly go for beef with beef and decided to be more sensible.
She chose the Espinaca y quattros queso (£5.95), spinach in a sauce made of four types of cheese. She said it was lovely, not too spinach-y and not overpowered by the cheese.
The service was fantastic. They were attentive but not pushy, and very knowledgeable on the dishes they were serving. My girlfriend also pointed out that they were all rather dashing, but we’ll move on from that.
So to the steaks. Ladies first, my girlfriend ordered the Churrasco Grill (£15.95) – an 8oz meltingly tender cut of sirloin.
Resisting the urge to go for the fantastic sounding Costeleta a la grilla (£19.95), a 14oz T-Bone, I went for the more sensible Bife Tango (£19.95), an 11oz rib eye.
It was wonderfully tender with a flame grill charred outside and pink in the middle.
Interestingly, the staff don’t ask how you like it cooked, they just cook it medium rare – the right way.
I’m sure if you asked for it to be cooked for 17 minutes with no juice they’d do it, but they’d probably die a bit inside.
But they didn’t bristle a bit when my girlfriend ordered a peppercorn sauce, they simply went and got some. It was a particularly good, freshly made one.
The exceptional steaks came with a nice bit of salad and a handful of lovely crispy thin-cut chips.
Not realising there would be salad, we ordered side salads too.
A lot of the time you get a bit of iceberg lettuce, some tasteless supermarket tomatoes and sometimes even the dreaded dried onion.
These ones had rocket leaves, avocado and even whole green olives. It was dressed by hand by the waiter with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper.
Due to the sensible portions, and not being overloaded with loads of chips and endless top-ups of bread, we went for a pud.
And all of a sudden we were back in Italy, facing the tough choice one has at one of those tremendous ice cream shops in Rome.
I went for a double summer fruits (which I later found out was in fact frozen yoghurt, so I won a few health points) and chocolate ice-cream, which was a superb combo.
My girlfriend went for a mix of chocolate and hazelnut, which led to the exclamation “it’s like an ice-cream Ferrero Rocher, and I love Ferrero Rocher”.
Perhaps not quite what the Italian staff were going for, but they really spoiled us.
The restaurant is also right opposite one of Wokingham’s biggest car parks so you can waddle off contentedly into the night.
So if you like your steak, and you like it cooked properly, you better head to Don Beni.
Our evening was superb, I can’t think of any flaws in the meal, although perhaps the waiter was a bit too dashing for my liking.
- Telephone: 0118 9795678
- Website: www.don-beni.co.uk
- Address: Don Beni
37 Denmark Street,