JW Steakhouse, Ankara

Last night I dined at the JW Steakhouse (Marriott Hotel) in Ankara.  I can’t really say I was disappointed, because I did not expect much from it.  I can say that I will never go again, unless someone else is buying!

I’m a food snob.  I love a good greasy cheap diner and I love a great restaurant with great food.  What I don’t like is the in-between stuff.  If I can cook better than they can, and I have to pay even a moderate price, it’s annoying.

I also am not a fan of hotel restaurants.  They may as well be chain restaurants of which I am also not a fan.  It’s basically just room service food in a restaurant setting — expensive and mediocre.

Honestly, I expected little from JW because I practically lived in Marriott hotels for 10 years. I traveled a ton for business and I joined the Marriott family because I am a “points whore” and Marriott was a little cheaper than the W family of hotels, cheaper for a reason.

JW is the higher end of the Marriott family.  But if you have ever stayed in the JW in Washington DC, you, like me, would be wondering what is so high-end about it.

I also love steak.  I have eaten steak in Texas, Kansas City, and Vegas!  I’ve tried it everywhere.  I can grill a mean steak, but not as mean as my brothers John and Billy!!  Life without steak would be a sad life for me.

So last nights experience?  Here is my restaurant review of the JW Steakhouse, Ankara.

Ambience:

The JW Marriott in Ankara is a new hotel, so it is lovely.  It hosts several restaurants and bars.  I peeked into Fires and Flavors on the way out.  It was a nice looking place, but if you are looking for romance, JW Steakhouse edges it out by just a nose.  Don’t get me wrong, it is not romantic, there are no cozy corner tables by the window or fireplace, but it does have a little less family restaurant feel.

My husband called to make a reservation.  They asked if it was a special occasion (pro).  Learning that it was our 5th wedding anniversary, they offered to decorate the table with rose petals and a candle (pro).  The cost of the rose petals was 50 TL (con and really???).  The candle was in place when we arrived (pro).  It was just a tea light in a glass that looked old and beaten (con). They failed to light it and I had to do it myself (con).

Service:

The service was better than most Ankara restaurants.  But it wasn’t close to perfect by American standards.  I find what one wants in service depends on what one is used to in their own country.  So Americans may not find it great, while others may find it perfect.

Pros:

  • They asked to take the plates.  Also, they did not take one plate at a time.  I know many people become agitated if their plate is not removed as soon as they are finished.  But traditionally, and in my opinion, it is bad manners to clear a plate from the table before all are finished eating.
  • They all speak English well and have an English menu if you need it.

Cons:

  • No one offered to take my coat.  We asked them to and they did, dragging it across the floor.  Later they did not offer to get it for us.  We had to search.
  • They never checked back to see how the meal was or whether we needed anything.  This is normal in Turkey, but it is an American hotel and restaurant.
  • Our dinner order was taken first.  Drinks were not offered until I asked for the wine menu.  Really is bad business sense since alcohol is highly priced.  A good server would have you feeling tipsy before you place your order.  Higher bill = higher tip.
  • Even though the restaurant had no more than three tables to serve at any given time, it was impossible to get the waiter’s attention.

Drinks:

Pros:

  • Well, the only pro I can think of is yes, they had drinks.  They had a bar, a wine and beer menu, water, etc.

Cons:

  • Red wine was served in a white wine glass, even though they had plenty of the other.
  • Incredibly small pour on the wine (not the 150 ml they advertised).
  • Water, granted, imported from Italy, is as expensive as the cheapest beer, 15 TL per liter.  Wow.

Food:

Pros:

  • They have a full steak menu starting at 29 TL for hangar steak and going as high as 99 TL for the “Tomahawk”.
  • In typical steakhouse style, you pay for every side.  They had a decent amount of side dishes.
  • You have a choice of one sauce with the steak which is nice.
  • Extra toppings (such as Oscar:  asparagus, crab, and bearnaise) are offered for an additional charge.
  • The bread was yummy and hot, served with a whipped herb butter.

Cons:

  • We ordered a Caesar salad to share. It was the last thing brought to the table, as opposed to being served as an appetizer.
  • We shared a twice-baked potato.  I have no problem with it being cooked before-hand, topped with cheese and reheated.  In this case, they doubtless reheated it when they started the steak.  It then sat.  Two bites were tepid at best.  The third bite was ice cold. I had to send it back to be heated.
  • We both ordered the NY Strip Steak.  First problem, the meal came about 15 minutes after ordering.  There is no way in hell they can cook two steaks properly, one of which was ordered medium-well, and let them rest, and serve them in 15 minutes.
  • It was NOT NY Strip.  Clearly a rib eye steak, and not a good one. My jaw was sore from chewing through the gristle.
  • The steak was allegedly cooked at 650 degrees on a grill.  I don’t know what kind of grill it was, but had it been cooked at that temperature, it would have been nicely browned on the outside (which seals in the flavor).  These steaks were grey all the way through, until you hit the red.
  • Ah, the red.  I ordered mine medium-rare.  I was not disappointed that it was not super  bloody, but it was not medium-rare by any true steak house standards.

At the end of the evening, which went way to fast for a romantic dinner out on the town, I asked the waiter if he served me NY Strip or Rib Eye.  He said it was NY Strip and offered to show me an uncooked piece.  I declined, and wondered to myself was this typical Turkish behavior – being offended easily and wanting to prove it to me?  Did they keep one NY Strip wrapped under lock and key just for this type of inquiry?

We asked for tea and he asked if we wanted dessert.  We said no and explained that I had baked a cheesecake which was waiting for us at home. Strangely, before the tea came, the waiter appeared with a small personal-sized cheesecake, divided on two plates.  He said it was his treat (not the restaurant’s).  We accepted it gratefully.  But now things were even weirder. One, he understood that I made a cheesecake.  And two, I it was now clear to me that they realized they had been caught red-handed, pushing off low-quality hard-to-chew Rib Eye as NY Strip Steak.

If you are looking for a good steak and don’t care about the ambience, try Butcha or Gunaydin.  Butcha makes a great steak.  Locations that I know of are in Panora Mall, which sucks if you are looking for romance, Tepe Prime, which is good if you only care about people seeing you, and Park Cad., which is not really a convenient location unless you live near there.

Gunaydin is in G.O.P.  I peeked in last week – also not romantic.  Be sure you go the right one as they also have burger places and other restaurants.

Overall, I give it 3 of 5 Liberty Bells.  

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8 thoughts on “JW Steakhouse, Ankara

  1. Thank you for the review. I love a good steak, so I will probably not go to this restaurant. Maybe one day we will try one of the others you mentioned. I agree that service does not appear to be a priority here. Maybe tipping should be instituted! Double cheesecake yet! Seems like a rather strange experience.

  2. T,
    My goodness T! Your knowledge of restaurant’s, food, temperatures, good, bad, maybe, maybe not, where to go, what to expect, what not to expect, management skills and non-skills, eyeing up the servers and the list goes on is amazing! When you get some free time putting it all to paper and presenting all to a publisher might yield a pleasant surprise for you.

  3. That is too bad. I went a couple of years ago with the Ladies Dinner Night group and it was really lovely. I had a filet mignon and asked for rare…and got it. There were also some lovely appetizers like smoked salmon mousse and crab cakes. I also appreciate their accommodation of my allergies. They made a special dessert for me, not off of the menu. We should go to Butcha some time soon!

    • Luckily it wasn’t too over-cooked. But you know, a true steakhouse is always more rare than most restaurants – just like you like it – still flipping and flopping in the pan! It wasn’t seared, no char at all! The cut of the meat was the worst! The gristle was just way too much. I can understand an off-day in the kitchen, but it shouldn’t be Friday night. And it shouldn’t be when there is no rush whatsoever!

      Butcha! Yes!

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