14 September 2010
Goodman looks like it has been transported whole from Lower Manhatten. Dark wooded booths, attractive and attentive waiting staff, and big, thick, USDA prime beef. All things that wouldn't be out of place in the Big Apple.
What is out of place is the wholly British drunk. Having a bar in a restaurant makes perfect sense: you can sip a martini before dinner and then move on to your table. Here, a group that had clearly been going since lunchtime hogged the place, leaning over the tables unfortunately too close to the bar. The polite but firm waitress tried to get them to keep to one side and not disturb people, but to no avail. It is rare that I find myself thinking that they've got something right in the US, but here I do: there is no way that this situation would have been allowed to happen in NYC. It isn't that our American cousins are any less prone to getting drunk, it is just that an up market restaurant wouldn't allow them to get to this stage in the first place and, if they had, wouldn't have politely asked them not to get in anyone's way, they'd have thrown them out.
Before people think I'm getting too sniffy about people having fun, I really don't mind, so long as their enjoyment doesn't translate to misery for other. Remember that this place isn't cheap. In fact, at around £30 a steak, it is expensive compared to other, serious meaty competitors. It is upmarket. It is in Mayfair. There are families. There is a time and a place for getting rowdy in a bar. This isn't it.
That said, we were moved from the bar to the dark wooded etc. table at the back and the serious business of devouring steak began. I had always thought that vegetarian hell would be St John, but that is just too light and airy. No, if you want to make a vegan cry, this is the place to do it. The steak is introduced to you like a Hatton Garden jeweller bringing out the wedding rings: laid out on a silver platter, from the 250g grass fed Irish fillet (the single carat, internally flawless, D, round princess cut) to the 1.5kg USDA T-bone (the twenty carat, yellow, Graff bling).
Each one is lovingly described: the fillet (pronounced filit, rather than fi-ˈlā), being grass fed, we are told, will be stronger tasting. The USDA, being corn fed, will be more marbled and succulent. We settled on a couple of USDA rib-eyes, a fillet and lamb chops. I know; why lamb in a steak restaurant? Well actually, the non-beef dishes are pretty fine too.
Starters ranged from a so-so mozzarella and tomato salad (which had been reformed into a cylinder for no discernable reason); some lovely hot smoked salmon and, the pick of the bunch, some beautifully light and crisp tempura prawns. The lamb too got the double thumbs up, and the chips were perfectly fine examples. It was, however, the steak that recieved a mixed review. It wasn't that the steak wasn't excellent; it was. Both the Irsih (which was stronger tasting) and the USDA (which was, as advertised, noticably juicier) were lovely cuts of meat. It was just the way that it was cooked. Rare doesn't mean not cooked. It means seared hard on the outside, and running with myoglobin when cut through. It isn't easy to achieve at home, as you need a really, really hot pan. In a restaurant, especially a steak one, it should be easy to get right. My tip for ordering here is, even if you like your steak rare, the USDA is so juicy that, if they are not going to get the temperature of the pan right, a medium rare works best.
The wine list is good and solid, vearing very much to the top end red from around the globe: we had a Californian Zin and a St Emillion Grand Cru. Both stood up to the steak admirably.
Service is good; attentive but not overbearing and prices are Mayfair.
Overall a very nice place, for a beautiful steak. Just avoid the bar.