Raising the steaks in the City

Timothy Barber
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Goodman City
11 Old Jewry, EC2R 8DU
Tel: 020 7600 8220

Cost per person without wine: £50

FOR some people – sensible people – no amount of fancy presentation, molecular menus, seasonal ingredients or painstaking taste combinations will ever satisfy the taste buds in the same way as a simple, well-cooked steak. For them, the bold, honest-as-the-day-is-long conviction of a huge, juicy slab of prime beef represents the matchless pinnacle of gastronomic good living. The fact that a lot of those people are to be found in the City should make the Old Jewry street arrival of Goodman, the Russian restaurant business and steak specialist with a branch in Mayfair, an event to celebrate. And when I visited a mere six days after the restaurant’s un-announced opening, the fact that it was crammed suggested word’s been spreading fast.

When the first London Goodman opened in Mayfair a year and a half ago it presented something of a mystery. What was to be made of this moody outpost of a Muscovite chain proffering enormous Yanky cuts in the heart of fine-dining country? Who the heck did these arrivistes think they were, with their waiters dressed as chefs, their background jazz and their steak knives the size of broad swords?

The answer turned out to be pretty simple. They were the people with arguably the best steak to be had in London. Like Shoreditch’s Hawksmoor – the other pretender to the crown – and very few other places, they knew intricately how to source their meat, how to hang and age it, how to cook it and how to keep it coming. And pretty soon, London’s steak lovers cottoned on.

The new place looks and feels like the old place. The lighting’s dim, the décor’s brown and masculine and the attention is all directed to what’s on your plate. To which end, there’s the addition – along with an expanded bar area and an open kitchen – of a window into the ageing room, in which you can see rack upon rack of beef cuts – corn-fed Angus from the States, grass-fed beef from Scotland, Ireland and Devon, wagyu from Chile – sitting in all their fat, marbled-crimson glory. Spot a piece you like the look of and you can have it.

There’s a menu with the regular porterhouse, t-bones, sirloins and filets, as well as a blackboard with the best of whatever non-regular steaks happen to be available. When you order, the waiter will bring out a plate laden with raw cuts for you to mull over, inspect the marbling, and see what takes your fancy.

First, though, there are starters and they’re not to be sniffed at. Irish smoked salmon served with pickled beetroot and a lovely cream cheese and dill concoction was so plumply delectable it could have been a piece of fine sashimi. Pieces of tiger prawn tempura came in a batter that was as light and airy as it was tasty.

We tried out bone-in rib-eyes from the States, from Scotland and from Ireland. Steak seems a simple thing – whack it under the grill, turn it over, bung it on the plate – but at Goodman you see what a nuanced art it can be. Our different steaks arrived on one enormous plate, cut into strips for us to pick through and share, glossily pink on the inside with an exterior crust of charcoaled gorgeousness.

It looked like one vast steak, but the differences were all in the taste – the sweet, buttery delights of the corn-fed American meat contrasted instantly with the soft, smoky earthiness of the Irish stuff, for instance. We barely touched our sauces – you can choose from béarnaise, pepper and stilton – since the meat naturally offered up so much flavour and juice. Triple-cooked chips and some sautéed mushrooms on the side were perfectly executed too.

If you’ve room for puddings, there are some good’uns to choose from. A milk chocolate mousse, served in a cuboid wedge on top of chocolate shortbread was impressive, though I suspect the Bomber (we’ll excuse the name) – consisting of B-52 parfait, kahlua, Baileys and Grand Marnier – might be the hot ticket here. But you’ll leave thinking only of wonderful, wonderful steak. Give thanks.