If you need to know what to do, what to say and where to go in the burgeoning steak joint scene then look no further. We persuaded Zeren Wilson, of trusted foodie blog Bitten and Written, to offer the following insights (at steak-knifepoint, naturally.)
Six places to try in London
- Flat Iron Carefully sourced steak and salad for just £10? Sold. Of course, they don’t take bookings because no on-trend restaurant does these days but the downstairs bar (offering doughnuts and cocktails) and the beef dripping fried chips are worth the wait.
- Goodman They dry-age choice cuts in their own ageing room, and they let you know it. Famous for their rare breed Belted Galloway, grain-fed Black Angus from Scotland and grass-fed Black Angus from Ireland.
- Rowley’s A hidden gem on Jermyn Street in Mayfair, this family-owned restaurant serve their steak on its own little burner, keeping it sizzling throughout your meal. They also serve unlimited fries which, although unorthodox, is great if you’re a greedy so and so.
- Hawksmoor With several sites across London, Hawksmoor have been at the top of their steak game for some time now. Order your steak by weight from a big chalk blackboard and sit back and prepare for a feast. Their Chateaubriand is particularly good.
- Le Relais de Venise L’Entrocôte No-frills steak restaurant with a French accent. Again, no reservations here, so weekend and evening queues are almost guaranteed. But Brits love to queue, right? And the pared-back menu means that when you’re finally shown to your seat, deciding what to order, even in your famished state, is easy-peasy.
- Gaucho Legendary Argentine steak joint, with branches dotted across London. They’re big on sourcing top-notch ingredients, and it shows. Try something different at the HPA Gaucho International Polo Tournament on Tuesday 21 May at The O2. Tickets (from £20). (Or enter our competition below!)
ANY BUZZ WORDS I CAN DROP INTO THE CONVERSATION?
Yes, plenty. Start by mentioning ‘marbling’ of the meat (that’s the sinewy fat that runs through the steak). Debate the merits of American ‘grain-fed’ versus Irish ‘grass-fed’, question what ‘grade’ Wagyu beef they are serving, whether they ‘dry age’ their meat, if they use a ‘Josper grill’, and if they have a ‘Big Green Egg’ in the kitchen to cook some of their meat on. You’ll get kudos for this last one in particular, trust me.
HOW SHOULD I SAY I LIKE IT?
Take your cues from Matt Edwards, owner of Hoxton restaurant Master & Servant. ‘Blue’ is a bit pretentious and smacks of bravado – basically the meat will not actually have the chance to heat up at all so it will arrive cold. Rare, if it’s cooked properly rare, is great for a fillet or lean cut that doesn’t have a lot of fat to render. Medium rare (as advised and cooked by the chef) is probably what you should go for on most cuts. If you ask for yours well-done, you shouldn’t be eating steak…
AND HOW DO I SOUND SAUCE SAVVY?
According to Matt, a good steak should stand alone without a sauce, but be served with some condiments on the side – English or Dijon mustard obviously. Maybe some veal jus or resting juices on the side. Dismiss buttery sauces like hollandaise as being too cloying. As for blue cheese, say you’d rather be vegan.
WHAT WINE SHOULD I CHOOSE WITH MY HUNK OF MEAT?
Big and bolshy reds work best, so a full-throttle Argentinean Malbec presses the right buttons (they eat a lot of steak over there), a full-bodied Napa Valley Zinfandel, or an inky Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon with a healthy 14% abv to cut through all that juicy meat are all very much bang on.
DO STEAK RESTAURANTS COST AN ARM AND A LEG?
Well, as a general rule of thumb, yes. A lot of places will trick you into ordering by weight; make sure you tot up roughly what you’re getting, because £20 per kilo sounds like a snip, until you have a 10kg Porterhouse delivered to your plate. But then, who goes out for a bargain basement steak?
DON’T ASK ‘What’s the fish of the day, garçon?’
DO ASK ‘Where are you sourcing your meat? And I hope it’s well-marbled.’
Zeren Wilson (@bittenwritten)
Would you rather cook your own? Try our Bluffer’s Guide to Beef and Steak