The 65-cover Middlesex Street branch is almost double the size of the Cobb Street original, and Abbate – who has his hand in a number of other Argentinian restaurants including Santa Maria del Sur, Garufa, Garufin,Zoilo and Casa Malevo– says Moo Grill is the business he wants to develop.
“The only brand we’re thinking about expanding is this one,” Abbate told BigHospitality. “If this second restaurant goes well then we’d like to have an investor so we can do three or four at the same time, before eventually branching outside of London.”
Moo Grill has a simple menu offering based around Lomitos (steak sandwiches with ham, cheese, tomato lettuce and egg); and steaks, with a small wine list and selection of cocktails.
Moo Grill Middlesex Street
The Middlesex Street site, which opened last Wednesday (5 December), includes the addition of steak sold by weight (ranging from 200g to 1kg), and an upgraded bar offering a range of original cocktails and nine variations of the gin & tonic.
Having opened his first steakhouse in the UK in 2004, Abbate believes that an emphasis on service makes his and other Argentinian concepts so popular at the moment.
“I think people like Argentinian steak houses first because Argentine meat is good quality but also because we put a lot of emphasis in the service,” he added. “Back in 2004 there weren’t many other stakehouses.
“In the past two years there has been an explosion of steakhouses, from affordable to very expensive ones. That is why we always try to improve as much as we can to stay in the game.
“The principal objective of Moo Grill is making the experience of having lunch or dinner as enjoyable as possible. That is why say we do ‘fun dining rather than ‘fine dining’. Good and friendly service is our first priority.”
Moo Grill is the creation of two Argentinean restaurateurs, Abbate and Jose Luis de Alzaa, an experienced restaurateur who worked with Abbate first at Hackney’s Buen Ayre, then at Santa Maria del Sur. The group's current project leader and partner, Hernan Palacios, joined the Moo Grill team in October 2011.
Last month BigHospitality reported that AU, Charlie McLean’s Argentinian steak concept which opened its first restaurant in Guildford last year, is set to launch a second site in Cambridge in January followed by a third in Kingston later in 2013.