Friday, December 19, 2008

Not just Goodman but very Goodman

T now no longer GT but more like HT had kindly sent me a message from the wilds of Tanzania to remind me that I owed him a present.
And knowing HT I suspected that the way to satiate his carnivorous heart was a meat-based present. I had already procured a couple of packets of beef jerky from the inimitable Duane Reade in New York. DD and I had actually done the obligatory DR run on returning to our hotels after our wonderful meal at Union Square Café (sadly still not written up, though I certainly haven't forgotten that meal!) So it's well past midnight and we're in our finery, I'm carrying a little beaded Chanel evening bag, fully bejewelled etcetera and we're wandering the aisles of this neon drenched pharmacy cum general store filling our basket with the most eclectic purchases (black safety pins - what a good idea!, the obligatory beef jerky, vivid post-it notes, DD's beloved body washes, intriguing potions not available over the counter in neither Sydney nor London and the usual stash of Advil for P and T leading a sun kissed but gel-capped deprived life in Spain). Our mode of dress did seem somewhat incongruous but some time after returning I finally caught the Sex in the City film and was amused to see Carrie and Miranda shopping in Duane Reade looking rather fabulous. So maybe that's how it's done in New York.
One thing that New York is certainly awash with is fine steak houses whereas London doesn't have the same reputation. We have the various Gaucho Grills which I'd always been a fan of until my last two visits at one of the newer ones near London Bridge where we had shoddy service and for the first time I was distinctly unimpressed by the steak and then had to wait for the so-called accompanying vegetables to materialise. You can't knock the excellent meat at Smiths of Smithfield and I'm sure Mark Hix would do us proud at Hix's Oyster and Chophouse but I wanted the sort of steakhouse that you find in New York.
So what did I do - booked a table for us at Goodman, which is the first UK outpost of a Russian steakhouse chain. And even though I was intrigued by the thought of Russian beef and reservations evaporated when I heard they had their own meat drying room. Mmmm they take their meat very seriously at Goodman. The place is all very masculine with chocolate (or should I say rich gravy) coloured leather clad booths and dark wood tables and the largest steak knives ever. Do Russian oligarchs have particularly large hands? I'm not sure a vegetarian would be entirely happy here, it's all rather beefy and some of the diners looked like they're draped in the pelts of previous dinners. Well it can get very chilly in Moscow!
Our pretty Polish waitress brings us her show-and-tell tray (a little in the style of Gaucho) to explain the provenance and cut of this evenings beasts. We are offered amongst others a New York strip steak, the neat Australian fillet mignon (for ladies), the more marbled American rib-eye steak and the British rib - 800g of pure meaty goodness sliced off the bone for two to share. Or in the case of our resident solid little carnivore a light snack for one. But before we start on the main feature we have to select a few meaty starters.
E (D) goes sensibly for the organic salmon carpaccio with tomato seeds but D, HT and I dive straight in to the meat and whilst HT tucks into the selection of cured meats with spicy mustard D and I opt to split the Goodman beef tartare with avocado and herbs followed by the beef carpaccio, micro-cress, shave parmesan and aged balsamic. I don’t generally go for the avocado but I am partial to a little beef tartare and the key word there is ‘little’.
Every time I have ordered beef tartare in a restaurant I have found it so filling I haven’t been able to do it justice so it’s a perfect sharing platter. And D and I both have already set this precedence in Lille’s Brasserie André with their signature dish of steak tartare and despite several attempts we’ve never been able to finish a portion by ourselves. And in spite of not being a fan of the particular texture of avocado - it was a fine tartare and the carpaccio was not too shabby either.
It is worth pointing out that if you are of the vegetarian persuasion you can still enjoy a meat-free starter at Goodman. As you could have fire roasted aubergine, oven dried tomatoes and feta cheese or velouté of Jerusalem artichoke with white truffle oil. We were very happy with our distinctly non-vegetarian starters however and are looking forward to the main meat banquet.
To herald the imminent arrival of our meaty comestibles the largest steak knives ever are delivered. Clearly nothing is to impede our devouring of their fine meat.
HT isn’t disappointed and I am just able to very quickly ‘pap’ his 800g of grass-fed 28 day dry aged (on site) Rib on the Bone (British) for he starts dispatching it. It may have been a dish designed for two but someone’s been deprived of beef for a while is sure making up for it.
D has opted for the rib-eye steak whereas E(D) and I plumped for the fillet mignons. I choose to anoint my steal with some classic Béarnaise sauce - delicious!
The accompaniment has to be the hand-cut chips which come highly recommended by our waitress. And for the requisite greenness we have some creamed spinach. The steak is just fabulous, melt in the mouth, cuts like butter with our weapons and very fine indeed – this was a good choice, a Goodman choice.
As soon as we start the chips arrive we realise these are award winning chips and our virtuous thought of sharing one portion between the four of us is blown away immediately and we have to order a top up.
When we clean our plates our waitress kindly offers to escort us downstairs to view their aging room. Here we can see the next few week’s dinners maturing and reaching their optimum meatiness. We tear ourselves away quickly in case HT finds a knife and fork and barricades himself in – definitely his idea of a sweet shop!
For dessert they had me at warm chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream so I didn’t bother looking at the rest of the menu. It transpired that I could have indulged in baked vanilla cheesecake, glazed vanilla crème brulée, iced peanut parfait or caramelised apple tart with cinnamon ice cream. If MC had been dining with us he could have enjoyed a selection of artisan cheeses from the board.
Goodman is given a resounding seal of approval by everyone - they certainly know their meat and deserve their three steak forks. It would have been the perfect evening if London transport hadn’t so systematically disappointed us at every turn; the gloss of our fabulous feast was slightly diminished by the tortuous two hour journey home. Well at least thanks to Goodman we weren’t the tiniest bit hungry!

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