"It's not much but it's ours"

Thursday, May 13, 2010


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.

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Blogger Foodycat said...

I think it is ridiculous that they are making a virtue of flabby, grain-fed American meat when delicious grass-fed, extensively reared beef is available so freely in this country!

But I like the look of the head of garlic on the side of the plate.

Saturday, May 15, 2010 6:57:00 pm  
Blogger Grumbling Gourmet said...

Friends of mine went to what I can only assume was the press launch and brought me back A1 sauce and a rather dry whoopie cake...

While there are a number of very, very good hotel restaurants, the bulk of them at the mid range I've been to seem to lack any sort of soul (and have a few irritating constants such as the upsells that you mention).

There's an argument that, like most restaurants near tourist traps, hotel restaurants don't get enough repeat business to warrant making effort when laid against profit. That being said, there's surely no excuse for over cooking a steak in a steakhouse!


Sunday, May 16, 2010 9:00:00 am  
Blogger The knife said...

It's really painful to go and pay money for something one can make much better one self.

Chewy calamari, rancid onion rings, creme orgies should not be forgiven.

Monday, May 17, 2010 10:11:00 am  
Blogger magdalena said...

I dont know what you are being so critical for. We went there last night, had a drink on their terrace, and then went in for dinner. They have British and American beef on the menu, it did say Prime in the menu, and it was delicious. My wife had the American grain fed fillet and I had the Aberdeen Angus ribeye which was superb. Best creamed spinach ever and the Cheesecake has to be the best in London. Service was fine, knowledgeable and friendly. Our bill was $110 for two of us, not bad at all for Mayfair and Park Lane.

Saturday, May 22, 2010 6:57:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

How Stuff Works. No 3: Food Blogging

You go for a meal and then you write about your experience.

Saturday, May 22, 2010 3:24:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

went there onother day and guess what .... this place was very busy annd apparently the are doing quiet well.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010 11:03:00 pm  

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