The Meat Co. London
Tel: 020 8749 5914
Words and pictures by Neil Hennessy-Vass
Despite the unpromisingly anonymous address there aren’t many people who haven’t heard of the giant shopping centre that has opened in recent years in west London. I ventured out west to Westfield London to visit the internationally acclaimed The Meat Co. Coming from South Africa they take their meat very seriously indeed. This is a high quality steakhouse that has much to offer the connoisseur as well as the less initiated.
Lunching with T is always fun as I get to hear about her children and what they have been up to. We settled down at a large table, T in an enclosed high-sided sofa and me opposite on a comfortable chair. The vibe here is plush and stylish with large windows bringing in lots of light and internal walls made of horizontal wine bottles that provide just enough information to see there is something on the other side but still let in light and provide privacy. Clever design like this is becoming more popular and I salute it. Nothing kills an atmosphere like a large room with no definition.
Looking at the menu it soon became clear that although there are a few options, this is not a place for vegetarians. It is an unashamed temple to meat with careful attention to sourcing and care I discovered their meat is very good indeed.
We started with a couple of cocktails of which there are a multitude to choose from including a good selection of mocktails ideal for young ones who want to feel special. T had what I am realising is her favourite, a bloody Mary. This was served with a good dash of Tobasco Sauce. A great hit and something to shake the cobwebs away in a jiffy, T rated it highly. I chose a bourbon based drink with lime and cloudy apple juice. Highly drinkable and refreshing, I could have had a few more but I was here to work!
Starters could have been breads, or salads but we were here for meat and meat we chose (mostly); T had some chicken wings that came from large chickens. Grilled with a blue cheese sauce and served with a salad and dip. I couldn’t really taste the blue cheese but they did taste very good, nothing but bones to pick over after T had done her work. My concession to the veggie world was my starter. I elected to have a bruschetta, which was not the normal presentation or content I’m familiar with, this came fully loaded. Two slices of bread with tomato, red onion and pesto with creamy Feta and Parmesan and a drizzle of balsamic glaze for good measure. It was lovely but didn’t have that garlic/olive oil combo you usually get. I think they have invented a new version really.
Children were the topic of conversation for a while and this is a great place to bring kids to eat after a hard days shop. They would have their own special menu with colouring, puzzles and a few foodie facts on it and the food. There is a link with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, if you have chicken strips they will donate £1 to the charity (the same donation applies with one of the grown up desserts) The option of a child to have fillet steak and chips (or mash or salad) for £12.50 is a good deal or a cheese burger with accompaniments for £6 is also not to be sniffed at. Combine this with mocktail and you have special meal for you little ones while you can concentrate on the serious mains.
T has a weakness for beef (as do I) so it didn’t take her long to peruse through a comprehensive menu covering all sorts of cuts and countries of origin to choose a rib-eye on the bone. This is a 500g portion so not for the feint hearted and as T is not feint hearted she asked for some scallops on the side. The meat is expensive here but you get superb quality. Her rib-eye was £45. I went for something from the super aged meat menu, a 300g North American Black Angus fillet. This had been wet aged for 35 days and tasted brilliant. To say it melted beneath the slightest pressure of my steak knife would be an understatement, maybe I should stick with soft as butter and incredibly tasty with a long finish. Sides were also a hit. T couldn’t stop eating the onion rings (which aren’t rings but strands of deep fried onion), creamed spinach was for a change not short on cream. I loved it. The garlic mushrooms were fine but nothing special.
A long gap was needed before dessert. T has a weakness (if you are thinking she has many weaknesses then you’d be right)! for a sweet dessert. Madiba, the South African dessert of sponge with jam and caramel that was Nelson Mandela’s favourite is here to tempt but I wanted to cover as much ground as I could so we chose the chef’s tasting platter. This is super value at £12 (it serves two) you get a mini version of five desserts. The crème brûlée had that hard to find brittle top that snapped when hit with a spoon revealing the set cream. A sticky toffee pudding did all the right things, a mango sorbet was great as a pallet cleanser and an ice cream sundae had chocolate sauce to ease it onto your spoon. The star was a perfect chocolate fondant, releasing all its gooey glory as we dived in. This is fun, well made and perfect for sharing dessert.
As we wound up our lunch I nipped off to find the gent’s only to find that the loos are in fact communal. So as you emerge from your cubicle your eyes are not playing tricks and the chances are you haven’t drunk too much of the excellent wine list when you see somebody of the opposite sex washing their hands in what must be one of the worlds longest hand basins (it runs the whole length of the large room) you are just doing it the South African way. And there’s no harm in that.