I like steakhouses. They are great for mea(e)ting up with mates being a halfway house between a restaurant and a pub – plus food is uncomplicated too. My mate is getting married soon (Matt I’m so proud of you geezer, sob.) and we thought it would be a great place to catch up. Steak and beer I said?
(I also added some scratching which blokes can relate to… but let’s keep that within Twitter.)
A brief history of prime
Only about 2% of all the beef produced by our friends across the Atlantic are christened by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as Prime Beef. This is a voluntary standard and the carcasses are graded by measuring the fat content (marbling) in the lean parts of the meat, and by its age; the younger and fattier the beef, the higher its grade will be (there are 8 grades in total).
Why oh why am I boring you with this? Because Prime USDA is a rarity in London, and Goodman is one of the few places you can try them. Meat lovers everywhere revere the American cattle, citing its tremendous marbling and flavour and some say it even surpasses the mythical Kobe beef which drinks beer all day long, and their glistering haircoats washed with sake. Heck even the great Heston Blumenthal is a fan as he cited Prime USDA as the perfect steak in his book ‘In search of perfection’. I distinctly remember reading about his visit to American which included perfect steaks at Peter Luger….and at some strip joint in NY. He should turn his ‘in search for perfection’ series into a blog, it is the platform for his fancy food experiments.
Whats on the side?
Goodman feature cuts from other parts of the developed globe, including Australian and British beef, both of which are a shy cheaper than the Prime US kind. Their snob-cuts come from superstar butcher Jack O’Shea and are aged on location in their aging rooms. That’s £39 for half a kilogram of the finest Irish Black Angus bone in ribeye. They also do a three course set for £14 – great value – as well as a selection of pretty eye catching entrees including sweet herring, traditional Russian style and lobster bisque, all very nice, but my attention was firmly on the meat.
There were four of us for a Sunday lunch, so that’s four steaks and four pints. Let’s start with the side dishes.
We thought it’d be ‘healthy’ ordering a tomato salad on the side and our chirpy waitress suggested we try the sliced tomato, crumbled stilton, red onion and aged balsamic (which is a starter) , £6, on the side. This salad tasted as good as it looked, tomatoes were fresh and sweet, the onions added flavour and the stilton seasoning the salad, I really liked this, as it was a good compliment to the steaks.
Also excellent were the very creamy creamed spinach, it was aromatic and I suspect some parsley was sprinkled in as well. A special mention goes to the chips as well, they were chunky chips, crispily fried and rich in oily flavours – it is my belief that all steakhouses need to master the fine art of frying potatoes, and Goodman got them really right. My mate is a Yorkshireman and if he says the chips are a winner, then it’s a real winner.
Right then, steak time.
And so we ordered three prime USDA ribeyes and one Aussie fillet, with a two bearnaise and two stilton sauces.
The steaks looked the part, smelled the part and even the sauces were serious. First Chelsea, and now steaks, looks like these Russians really know how to pick the best from a crop. It was immediately evident that this had been sizzling on a fancy charcoal grill, and the first bite revealed the skill of the chef in sealing the juices within the hunk of meat. But I have a problem, this ain’t medium rare, honey.
And I have photographic evidence to prove it. As a ravenous Yorkshireman, Matt likes his steak to be bloody, and he recoiled when the waitress stopped him in his tracks and said that rare was not suggested and she pressed the whole table to have the steaks cooked the ‘Goodman’ way: medium rare. I didn’t have a problem, medium rare is just fine for me, but if you’re going to impose such a proud caveat on your method of cooking, then you better get it right. Two out of three rib-eyes were overcooked. Its not even medium, as far as I can tell, its well-done, there was no blood, except from the blood boiling in Matt’s eyes.
On the other hand, Jon was quietly scoffing his meat, as his steak was cooked to perfection.
Oh here’s where things get interesting, the overcooked steak actually tasted great. Texture wise, it was very tender, and the juices were still well sealed in the meat. Flavour-wise, it was nothing to write home about, I was vigorously salting it and I was dunking every slice of meat into the variety of sauces. The béarnaise was whippy, sour and buttery (very good) but the stilton sauce was the real winner for me. Made with red wine, juices from the meat and stilton, the result was a honey like bbq sauce. All well and good, but like Chelsea, the sum of the parts were overcooked, and that’s not a recipe for success.
Better than Hawksmoor and Gaucho?
As we finished our meal, a voice called out my name.. ‘Kang..Kang..’ I turned around and he said to me “You don’t remember me do you?” . I squinted my eyes to focus on the silhoutte figure… and lo and behold, it was Bellaphon! It was a pleasant surprised, he was eating with his daughter and tells me that that Goodman is one of his favourites. I have immense respect for him, he is a blogger’s blogger, his appetite is epic and he has easily eaten at more places than I have. A pleasant surprise, you can read his review on Goodman here. Small world eh – great appetites eat alike I guess.
In the end, my first experience of Prime USDA beef was abit of a yawn. While the marbles of fat were flavoursome and the steak being tender & juicy; The lean bits were abit bland, it was overcooked and I think that spoiled my experience. But even with an overcharred steak, comparing it to Hawksmoor and Gaucho, I think Goodman has a slight edge. They have a wider selection of meat and their steaks are indeed cooked to a very high standard. My friends, on the other hand, were very impressed with Goodman, so much so that Jon proclaimed that he never thought beef could be quite so tender, and judging from how soft my overcooked steak was, I have to agree with him.
If there is one thing I’ve learnt about food, It’s to never believe the hype – especially when it comes to steak, afterall everybody knows what steak is supposed to taste like. OK. So this is where you come in folks, what the hell do you do when the steak is overcooked? I didn’t want to be rude so I ate it, but it spoiled my experience a little knowing that they can get it right, but they got mine wrong. Especially in a steakhouse that prides itself in its meat, surely they would like to make sure they get it right all the time. What is etiquette in this case? Do I send it back, or do I eat it?
The Gist of It
Goodman official site
26 Maddox Street W1S 1QH
Tel: 020 7499 3776
Closest Tube station: Oxford Circus
Verdict: Better than Hawksmoor, large variety of beef and one of the few that currently serve Prime USDA beef.