GOODMAN CITY: BENNY AND (EVEN) MORE BEEF
As far back as I can remember my answer to one of those “what would your last meal be?” type of question has always been the same: oysters to start; a big steak, cooked rare; chips; a big bowl of ice cream to finish. There would probably be some red (red) wine and a strong double espresso in there as well.
Some oh-so-witty readers seem to think I eat steak at every other meal. These people obviously don’t read the blog regularly as I eat at least as much fish as meat and of the times I do order something carnivorous it’s very rarely a steak.
There’s a simple reason for this. Many places don’t do steak very well. They’re either not cooked properly or the meat isn’t of decent quality. They might be stupidly thin or not rested enough. I’m more likely to wander along to O’Sheas in Knightsbridge to buy a hunk of beef and take it home to prepare myself. The advantage is that it’s cheaper and I can cook it just so. The downside is that it’s a faff to do all the side dishes that are good to have with a steak, like proper chips and a wobbly Béarnaise.
Lucky, then that a new branch of one our favourite steakhouses, Goodman, has opened in the City not ten minutes walk away. It’s roughly the same distance to our other favourite, Hawksmoor, who are also opening a new gaff later in the year.
I’m not really in favour of chains, but that’s more to with most of them being money-grabbing rip-offs. I’ll make an exception in the case of Goodman and that’s because of the main men there, FOH David Strauss and Head Chef John Cadieux - two people who actually care about what they do.
Ever since our first visit almost two years ago they have always looked to improve Goodman with the result that its Mayfair branch is packed every night. This new venture feels something like a culmination of all the effort they’ve put in. When I visited it had only just come out of a few days of soft opening but pretty much seemed the finished article to me and dare I say it even better than it’s elder sister.
It’s a pretty large, cavenernous place and I wondered at first if the back of the restaurant where I was seated was a bit of a Siberia. In fact it turned out to be a much better location given that the front section by the bar is quite noisy and I is quite old, innit? Let the kids have their fun while they can, eh? Little gits.
Service was very on the ball so not long after sitting down I was sipping a glass of prosecco and deciding what steak to have, which is the only really important decision you should need to make in a steak restaurant. The rest is just small talk.
I decided straight away to go off-piste with 1kg of O’Shea Porterhouse, aged for 45 days. I then had a little discussion with my waiter about how I wanted it cooked. My (slightly) alcohol-fuelled cooking directions didn’t seem to phase him at all and off he went to translate my ramblings for the kitchen.
Goodman’s starter list has expanded quite impressively since my last visit and you could probably construct a decent meal from those alone. The Beechwood Smoked Salmon from Frank Hederman though is the one to go for. It’s not cheap but it is of excellent quality. Thick cut and served with little discs of pickled beetroot, a splurge of cream cheese and a sprinkling of dill, it’s rich but has quite a subtle smoke taste. A little goes a long way.
I was somewhat nervous before my steak arrived. Thoughts like “what if they’ve ballsed it up?” flashed through my head. Of course I needn’t have worried. It was cooked perfectly. How I cook my own steaks, in fact.
This behemoth had a beautiful char on it (Note. this does not mean burnt) and had been rested so that it was an even colour within. The great thing about the meat from O’Shea, I’ve always found, is that it has a very clean taste. It’s beefy, sure, and the ageing is evident too but nothing dominates.
I know when a steak is good because I don’t need anything to complement it - the petit pot of Dijon mustard remained untouched throughout the meal. Almost a kilo of beef later and I didn’t feel unpleasantly stuffed and more crucially didn’t suffer from my usual bout of meat-induced indigestion later on.
Wanting to make decent inroads into the Porterhouse I only had a small sampling of the sides but enough to note some great chips. They were a little on the lardy side but had been cooked to give a good, proper crunch. Even better when dunked greedily into an exemplary Béarnaise sauce.
After a suitable break and I went for the HP pudding du jour – of every jour – a selection of Ice Creams, which were pretty good as well. I even had room for a little digestif.
As I drained the last of my Grappa I pondered upon life, the universe and everything and thought that if I was to be struck by lightning on my way home I would die a very happy man indeed. If Goodman can keep the standard up – and there’s no reason to think they can’t – then this will be my go-to place when I want that classic last meal.
Anyway, I now look forward to rivals Hawksmoor’s new offering. The gauntlet has been thrown down, guys. Now it’s your turn.