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A La Cruz – the meat to beat?

For us, and others yearning for lewd meat action, Argentine steakhouse A La Cruz will satisfy your needs with extreme gustatory titillation. During our two hours there they pleasured us immensely, leaving us completely engorged and our lust sated.

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Our juices were flowing even before we had penetrated the entrance due to the seductive, sweet, smoky scent drifting out the door. As we sat down, the origin of these aromas was revealed. Not only did they have a charcoal grill, but also an asador (smoker), its meat proudly on display in front of the kitchen for all diners to admire. Our dining companions had already picked well from the excellent wine-list so we were ready to get lubricated in preparation for the first serving.

Even a cursory glance at the menu suggested anyone unfortunate enough to have a vegetarian in their party would be embarrassed (or more likely have to hide their amusement). This is where real men and adventurous women go to quench their desire for large bits of meat. We ordered two starters each.

Dan and I both had morcilla, a slightly soft black pudding. It was delightfully spiced with a mouth-coating richness that had me chortling with unconcealed mirth. I may still hold happy memories of black pudding from Sillfield farm before their descent into mediocrity but this was clearly superior to the very best of their efforts.

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My other starter was also evidently made with the assistance of happy pigs, this time their meat going into a grilled chorizo de cerdo. It was somewhat different to what I had expected, not being infused with high levels of reddening paprika, but the protein joy that charged it was just the kind of visceral pleasure that has me writhing and moaning with unconcealed gratification. Top pig carefully prepared – pulsingly good sausage action.

Editor Daniel and Dan both chose Provoleta: grilled provolone cheese with toasted bread, crispy bacon and spring onions. A plateful of melted stringy cheese may seem odd, but the fatty richness was a good match for the bacon bits and the spring onion kept it lively. I was so taken with this I didn’t feel at all ashamed to steal a couple of forkfuls.

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I found choosing a favourite between Jeff’s matambre con ensalada and Daniel’s mollejas to be a serious challenge. The matambre was rolled flank of beef stuffed with vegetables and egg – a mind-bending array of gorgeous flavours and textures. The mollejas were grilled beef sweetbreads with lemon juice and salt. The portion was generously sized, perfectly cooked with all the rich, powerful tastes a sweetbread can have – I think I ate more of these than Daniel.

The starters had delivered astonishing levels of pleasure reminding us why one goes out to eat. Our main courses maintained the theme of no-holds-barred hedonistic indulgence.

Daniel chose Asado, a piece of flank of beef on the bone, newly liberated from the hot smoker. It had a smoky flavour throughout and as we got closer to the bone it became progressively rarer. Cow noshing is rarely more pleasurable than this; I was surprised Daniel let me join in the fun with the juicy mouthful he provided.

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Dan, Jeff and I shared what was effectively a mixed grill – plenty of bits of smoked beef and lamb with more sausages and black pudding. A little heated pedestal, or rather a veritable votive altar to protein, kept the meat hot as we gleefully consumed it.

Feeling excluded from this dissolute orgy of carnivorous debauchery left Daniel demanding more molleja action. I once again unashamedly helped myself to several. We all reached the happy conclusion of not being able to fit in any dessert.

Whilst the raw ingredients were very good, they cannot compare to the best grass-fed beef on offer at Hawkmoor or in the Basque country. However, the chef’s mastery of meat manipulation means A La Cruz deservedly claims a place next to Hawksmoor as a giant in the Pantheon of English meat.

A meal here will set you back about half the price of a visit to Hawksmoor, which doesn’t hurt either.


Contact details: A La Cruz, 42 Northampton Road, London EC1R 0HU Telephone: 020 7837 1999

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