Summat to Ate
48-50 Market Street

FIRST, a quick return to school.

Here comes the science bit, concentrate.

You will remember of course, from your early physics lessons, that the specific heat capacity of volcanic rock — that is to say, its ability to retain heat — is approximately 794 Joules per kg per °C. Well, there or thereabouts.

Is this ringing any bells? What this means is that it takes a fair bit of energy to heat up a lump of the stuff to 440°C, but then, once you’ve done that, it will stay pretty bloody hot for the next 20 minutes or so.

I’m not just telling you this for the heck of it, you know. The “amusingly” titled Summat to Ate — it’s in Wigan — uses these hot rocks to provide a unique dining experience, bringing out a barely cooked steak on a slab of granite, allowing you to complete the job yourself.

A gimmick it may be, but it is an excellent gimmick, nonetheless. Great fun. Especially if, like me, you firmly believe you can cook your own steak better than Gordon Ramsay. There is something primal about it, too.

The actual quality of the steak is excellent. As the menu succinctly puts it, there’s no point running a steak restaurant if the steak is no good. Or words to that effect.

They get theirs from Ashlea Farm on the Cheshire plains where, I am told, Charolais cattle are crossed with Hereford cattle, the animals are fed well, and the meat is hung for at least 21 days. This was plain to see, and taste, with the 6oz rump we tried. Tender, no gristle, no excess fat. And perfectly cooked, even if I do say so myself.

The steak — you can get two of them with a 500ml bottle of wine for £16 midweek — comes with thick cut chips, a side salad, and a choice of sauces for an extra £1.50.

Starters, on the midweek special, are £3 extra, and we had a nice homemade tomato soup and a delightful salmon, prawn and dill roulade.

If you’re going to go the whole hog and have a pud, share the trio of desserts. Lemon and lime baked tart, strawberry cheesecake, and chocolate fudge brownie crème brûlée. They were superb. Clearly baked on the premises, and all the better for it.

Service-wise, there were a couple of longish waits, which, considering the place wasn’t heaving on a wet Wednesday in Wigan, was disappointing. But the girls there were pleasant, smiley, and knowledgeable about the food.

There is a real buzz to this place. I can’t recommend it highly enough. You should go at least once, just for the experience. The volcanic rock really brings out the caveman in you. Or the physicist. And what could be better than that?

01942 255150