The Barbarians are usually no great fans of steak houses. We’ve been to too many of them that take the label too literal and completely lack any imagination or cooking skill beyond the preparation of cows’ meat. However, the further North you get in Germany, the more steak houses there are, and Frankfurt is already sufficiently North for there to be plenty. Besides, we had heard very good things about Black Bulls and we immediately liked the fact that they don’t blindly focus on steak, but are also known for their finesse in preparing seafood.
For starters I opted for 12 Black Bulls Style Escargots with herb garlic butter gratin (€12.90), a mistake. The bread and butter served before the starter arrived, looked so unattractive I couldn’t be bothered to try it. The extremely tiny “Achat snails” were completely overpowered by the rich, creamy butter, which did not taste much of garlic, but rather vaguely like a lasagna Bolognese with a ton of tarragon on top.
The medium-rare 600g New York Strip Steak (€50.90, with another €4.50 added for the French fries; also known as top loin and – in the UK – as Porterhouse Steak) I ordered is from a part of the cow that is rarely used while the animal is still alive, hence producing a particularly tender meat, which, especially if finished on a grain-fed diet, can also be richly marbled. It’s the part of the back of the cow immediately next to the ribs, but just before the part where sirloin steak and tenderloin are cut out of.
I was very pleased with my steak. Incredibly juicy and tender, but the texture still with a bit of bite, very strong in flavour. I was pleased that I remembered (late but not too late) to specifically order pepper sauce (the waiter had automatically assumed I would go with the standard barbecue sauce that’s included in the price; the barbecue sauce is nice, but perhaps a tad too sweet, the pepper sauce (adding another €2.50 to the bill) was not among the best I’ve had, but rather decent nonetheless).
I am a slow eater, so I profited more than most from the fact that the porcelain plate was heated up to a gazillion degrees, keeping the meat warm for the next 45 minutes or so, until the last bit was devoured. I was also kept nice company by an original Budweiser beer from Budvar (not the U.S. American corn-based variety, but the mother of all beers from Czechia), which reduced in weight at the same rate as my steak over the course of the evening.
For dessert, I ordered reasonably-priced Cheesecake “NY-Style” for €8.90. After my meatfest earlier I was grateful that the cake was tiny. I enjoyed it with a Baribbio Marco Bonfante, Nebbiolo Barbera Grappa (generous 4cl for only €8.50, no complaints). Of course Barbera, the third-most used red-grape variety in Italy, has Barbarians written all over it, so couldn’t go wrong with that choice. 4 out of 5 in our book. Overall it was a very enjoyable evening in a pleasant atmosphere with mostly fabulous food and a good service.