JW STEAKHOUSE: MISTAKEN
Is cooking a good steak really that difficult? Are there that many obstacles to getting a juicy slab o’ meat on your plate? In my world all you need is some decent, well-hung beef (huh huh huh…he said “hung”). It should be left to come to room temperature. Maybe salted a little beforehand and the moisture dabbed off. A griddle pan heated until very hot. The steak whacked on for a minute or two, then turned. Maybe the fat crisped up a bit. Then into a low oven to rest. And rest. And rest.
Recently I tried another technique, where the steak is cooked in a frying pan in plenty of butter. The finished result looked great but the steak tasted a bit “stewed”. Obviously this methods needs someone with more cooking chops than I possess. Probably more than was evident from the kitchen of the new steakhouse JW er, Steakhouse in the Grosvenor House.
Like that other disappointing US based chain, Palm (of which I said I would never speak of, damn) JW seems to have a problem with cooking steaks to order, well mine in any case. When asked to cut into my signature “Tomahawk” rib eye to check the doneness I saw very little of the medium-rareness which I had requested. I did a bit more searching and eventually the waitress thought it best to redo the whole thing.
One of the cardinal rules of cooking steak is always to slightly undercook it as a) it may go on cooking for a bit and b) it’s easy enough to rescue if people want it cooked more. Luckily we had also gone for a Strip Steak which was close enough to how we wanted it.
The blurb for JW had said they would be using USDA Prime Beef but the “Prime” bit was missing from the descriptions on the menus so who knows what grade it was. The high prices certainly suggested that someone was benefitting from the deal. The steak itself was ok but no more. The Tomahawk too, when it eventually came, was just average: under hung, not very interesting. They had managed to get a decent colour on it though.
All the supporting acts were mediocre. The room was pretty dreadful: a huge cavernous space made worse by having just a few tables occupied and by playing a bizarre mixture of eighties power pop.
Deep-fried Calamari had decent squid but the coating was too thick and tasted of oil. Onion rings were solid and came in a nasty batter. Creamed Spinach had taken the description to heart (the spinach was literally “creamed”). Chips? Well I’ve had worse but I’ve had plenty of better ones. Gloopy Béarnaise was left untouched.
More gripes. Well, my dining companion Gary knows his vine and picked out something which he thought offered reasonable VFM. Unsurprisingly (to him) it wasn’t available and the opportunity to up sell by the restaurant was too good to miss. We got one of the cheaper ones on offer.
The Marriott group have certainly got the money so how have they got things so half-assed with this “me-too” operation? As I talked about in my post about Bar Boulud you need to get the details right and to do that you need people who know about such things. People who are passionate about Beef. JW Steakhouse definitely seems to be missing the right people.
Nothing that can’t be remedied, of course, although god knows what they could do with that room – move out and turn it into flats? Certainly on their current showing JW Steakhouse won’t be causing the likes of Goodman and Hawksmoor any sleepless nights.