York Vision (along with other facets of student media), had the pleasure of attending the launch night of the new Rio Steakhouse.
On the 15th September, myself, members of YSTV, and the guys behind URY’s What’s for Tea turned up, alongside other members of the press and food critics, eager to see what the steakhouse had to offer, before it opened to the public the next day.
Rio Steakhouse, located on the corner of Bridge Street in the centre of York, is just opposite the Tank & Paddle for those of you who know your bars. The restuarant has branches across the North including Chester and Middlesborough, and last night their new York location absolutely pulled out all the stops.
After first being greeted in the door with a complimentary drink of champagne (just the first of many), we were shown to our seats and were soon around the Salad Bar. I say it was a salad bar, but it was more like a buffet. There were plenty of cured meat and fish options as well as pasta, potatoes, mushrooms and various assortments of cheeses and vegetables to start us off. If you were vegetarian, this is probably where you would have to get your food, and there were plenty of non-meat options. To call it a Salad bar is probably a bit of an injustice!
The service as a whole is quite unique. The restaurant’s full squadron of waiters and waitresses came around with various different meats on offer, and, while you serve yourself at the ‘Salad Bar’, using blue and red colour coded mats at your table, you then inform the staff walking around if you want any more meat.
Although a Steakhouse, Rio offers a variety of meats cooked in Brazilian style. All the meat options were to die for, but the best by far had to be the lamb. I’m usually a sucker for lamb but the ones they provided were just sublime, carefully smoothed with mint sauce and sea salt flakes: it just melted in your mouth.
And the food just kept on coming. I like to think of myself as someone who could eat for King and country, but even I was defeated after a little while having to refuse the Chicken hearts that were tried – and perhaps not so keenly liked – by the other people on the table.
As this was a press preview night, pretty much everything was on the house, including drinks. We sampled their signature cocktail, a interesting blue concoction, before having a couple of glasses of the House red, a fine number sourced from Portugal (in kind of keeping with the Brazilian theme), as well as a pint or two of Camden Town Pale Ale.
We certainly could not say the hospitality was lacking. The restaurant was a huge operation, with lots of members of staff, all seemingly really excited for the opening.
Asking a couple of the waiters who were serving us, they said they really enjoyed working there.
With a DJ blasting songs throughout the night and keeping in the Brazilian spirit up, the resturant had a bit of a party atmosphere about it. While this might not suit some parties looking for a quiet conversation, we certainly all enjoyed it!
If that wasn’t enough, the manager gave a quick speech before announcing a surprise as we were tucking into our desserts: the Cheesecake a particular hit. This surprise turned out to be three carnivale dancers, decked out in headdresses consisting of magnificent feathers to compliment their smooth Latin moves to ramp up the party atmosphere.
They were really good dancers and got people off their seats to join in, enticing Ava of YSTV to have a boogie too! It really was a welcome addition to the night, but I’m not sure how regular a fixture that would be! Nevertheless it showcased the effort that went into the hospitality there.
One minor concern is the fact that the he toilets were a bit far, awkward and not very well signed to access for those that had enjoyed Rio’s hospitality a little too much. Futhermore, whilst the service was great and everyone was really lovely, the waiters really were offering new meats incredibly quickly. As a quick eater myself I didn’t mind this at all, but I know some people who would be put off by that, especially if they wanted to savour the delicious medium rare beef on their plate.
In terms of actual cost on an ordinary night it’s pretty good value for money, £39.95 on Friday/Saturday nights per person. For students, it might best be used for a big group celebration, like a 21st Birthday or if family are in town to foot some of the bill, but only go if you know you’re going to make the most of what’s on offer.
With Ate O’Clock just up the road on High Ousegate and The Cut & Craft on St Sampsons’ Square, Rio has solid competition for Steakhouses in York City Centre, but with its unique service, gorgeous food and friendly atmosphere, there’s a lot of potential for it to do roaringly well in the future.
Rio Steakhouse opened on September 16th and can be found on Bridge Street next to the River Ouse.