Guest blogger ‘Non Stinky’ Jeff Home reports on one of London’s other steak houses.
After hearing that it was the best steak in London, we decided to indulge in dinner at Goodman Mayfair. As I’m sure you know, we rate Hawksmoor as the best steak in London, but in the interests of fairness we thought we’d see what all the fuss was about.
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We had booked a day ahead and upon arriving, were lead through the main part of the restaurant (a large school dining room kind of affair with booths and lots of open plan things) towards a dining room at the back. This certainly proved to be a good thing – the lighting was a lot less severe and we were out of the general flow of foot traffic. Around us were leather padded chairs and the whole room had the feel of being in a well appointed gentleman’s study.
We chose a bottle of 2008 Delta Pinot Noir (from Marlborough, New Zealand) to start with. This is not an overly complex wine. It has a light black cherry and spice nose which is followed onto the palate with low tannins and some plum fruit. We’ve enjoyed this wine before, and not happy to let a good thing get away on us, we added a second bottle to take us through the entire meal.
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Dan decided to start with the chicken liver and fois gras pate served with onion jam and some toasted brioche. The pate was a lovely light pink colour with a fine “rind” of jelly, was not chilled and remained very smooth to spread. The caramelised onion jam was marvellously sweet and had a slight coffee note to it – obviously made with very good quality balsamic vinegar. It seems there is never enough brioche with these dishes, and this proved true for the amount of pate on the plate.
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I chose the beef carpaccio, basil cress, shaved parmesan, aged balsamic and olive oil. It was a mouthful to order – but definitely worth the effort. The acidity from the lemon juice (which was liberally covering the beef) played wonderfully with the aged balsamic (which had gentle malty chocolate notes and a defined lack of acidity). There were some crunchy peppercorns thrown in to surprise and the top quality beef provided a melt-in-the-mouth happiness that I wasn’t honestly expecting. The beef was wonderfully presented and tasted just as good. The trick here is loads of parmesan and it has to be freshly shaved. There was loads – and it was freshly cut.
We settled in for some people watching and drained the first bottle of wine at this stage (time for number two). It was about 7pm and the place was starting to fill up – so we had plenty of people wandering about to entertain us from our nicely protected table for two. With a flourish, our mains were brought to a side table and then our waiter served them to us. I can’t help but think this double-handling of the plates is a bit of a waste of time, however.
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Dan went for a 500g Bone-in Sirloin cooked rare. They cook their beef using a Spanish Josper barbecue oven – and the beef had excellent charcoal lines and an aroma that immediately set the mouth watering. The meat was warm all the way through whilst maintaining a good rare colour into the middle. But it just doesn’t taste overly meaty! This was aged USDA corn fed (which apparently gives the meat a bit of sweetness) beef – and maybe this was the reason. Maybe it was because it was all the way from Nebraska… however you look at it, this is not better than Hawksmoor.
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I went for a 600g Bone-in Rib of UK Devon grass fed aged Red Beef. None of this foreign meat for the likes of me! The crust was salty and charred nicely. Whilst I ordered it rare, I felt there were parts that were more medium than I would have liked (of course, it’s tricky to prevent this with the bone still in). My meat was easy to cut, was tender in the mouth and had a fine marble grained element of fat that tasted very rich and substituted nicely for the bone marrow that I have become accustomed to when dining at Hawksmoor. Like Dan, I agree that this meat is just not as good as Hawksmoor. Maybe it’s the different aging times – or maybe the different breeds of meat… I just don’t know.
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We shared some green beans with shallots. The beans weren’t too greasy and had a good crunch to them and the shallots weren’t too onion like (softened as they were). Nothing to write home about really… just a staple side dish.
Whilst Dan had some regular hand cut chips, I decided to splash out the 75p extra and have the truffle chips. These are the same as the regular chips but sprayed with truffle oil after cooking. This added a light garlic taste to the chips which I found very agreeable. The chips themselves were crunchy on the outside without being hard, and fluffy on the inside (even after leaving them for about 5 minutes whilst we noshed on our meat). A very good side dish indeed.
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The wine was nearly finished at this stage, and we decided to order a desert. Barring the 2 glaring typos and the grammatical mistakes, the desert menu offered a good selection of treats. Dan went for the baked New York cheesecake with Berry Compote along with a glass of 2006 Mylitta Tokaji. The cheesecake was heavy and dense (which is ideal for this cheesecake style) and the Tokaji was sweet without being sickly. Unfortunately the powerfully acidic flavours of the accompanying berry compote just didn’t work with this desert combination.
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I went for the Sundae – cubes of chocolate Brownie with ice cream and a decent drizzling of chocolate and caramel sauce (and plenty of whipped cream) accompanied by a glass of Sandemans 1977 Port. The Sandemans “slipped down a treat” and perfectly matched the chocolate brownie and caramel flavours in the sundae.
Something about Hawksmoor makes it better than Goodman, maybe how they get the steak crust, maybe the familiar waiting staff, maybe because they have the best bloody mary in London, who knows? Certainly Goodman is a fine steak restaurant – but it hasn’t ousted Hawksmoor from the plinth – for us at least.
Contact details: Goodman Steak Restaurant Mayfair, 26 Maddox Street, London W1S 1QH Telephone: 020 7499 3776