There are some superb steakhouses in London. The likes of Hawksmoor and Goodman have really raised the bar in recent years so it’s staggering to think that The Meat Co. is way pricier than both of them.
The Southern Terrace at Westfield, Shepherds Bush seems like an odd location for a high-end steakhouse. But with cuts ranging from £25 to an eye-watering £62, The Meat Co. certainly sets its stall out to be that.
They are part of an international chain with branches across the Middle East and in their native South Africa. Formerly known as The Meat & Wine Co, they’ve now been in residence on Westfield’s chain-restaurant alley for the last five years.
A little while ago, they got in touch and asked us to review it. We generally decline invites but this one caught my eye – it seemed reassuringly expensive. Looking back though, I can’t help but wonder how I got it so wrong. Personally, I’d have been a touch nervy about inviting bloggers whose main USP is an honest review guarantee, but there you go.
There are some superb steakhouses in London. The likes of Hawksmoor and Goodman have really raised the bar in the recent years so it’s staggering to think that The Meat Co. is way pricier than both of them.
The Meat Co.- £43
MASH – £35
Goodman – £34
Hawksmoor – £30
Gaucho – £29
We arrived early and decided to have a drink at the bar. I ordered a large G&T but was bemused when the server completely drowned it in half a pint of post-mix tonic. On the upside, the drinks prices are fairly reasonable for a restaurant – with cocktails ranging from £7 to £10.
After snacking on some tasty biltong, we took the waiter’s advice and went for the Boerewors to start. It’s an ultra-meaty South African coiled sausage which I’d only previously tried at a drunken braai. It was perfectly palatable – like a South African take on bangers and mash. The best thing about it was the bed of creamy (and appetisingly named) ‘pap’ (similar to grits). Not so appetising was the chakalaka sauce, which was so sweet it could’ve been on a dessert.
When the steaks arrived, the penny dropped and all hope evaporated. We ordered both medium-rare and in fairness they were cooked about right. That, I’m afraid though was the only plus point. They were big but not particularly thick – like strips of beef carpet (not to be confused with curtains) on our plates. Worse still was the sticky glaze that coated them.
The manager assured us that it’s a traditional South African basting liquid and that it’s mentioned on the menu. That may be so but the best word I can think of to describe it is yuck. Due to the basting, the steaks had no crust and only light bar marks. After I’d scraped off the glaze, they just looked grey and unappealing.
As soon as I saw the ‘wagyu’ cut of the day on the menu, curiosity got the better of me. The waiter informed me that it’s Chilean strip steak (sirloin), priced at a cool £55. Chile and Australia have both sprung up as producers of Wagyu beef in the last few years but I’m always suspicious of how the term is bandied around.
To be considered wagyu, the beef has to come from one of four Japanese breeds but that alone is no signifier of quality. In Japan, beef is graded between 1-12 according to the marbling but there was no indication of any grading on my steak at The Meat Co. It had an oddly mushy texture and quite a lot of chew for a sirloin. There was also very little flavour in the meat. If I’d paid £55 for this, I’d have been literally incandescent with rage. As it was, I just felt disappointed.
In many ways our other steak was even worse. It sounded so good too, ‘how can you go wrong with a 400g, 30-day ‘dry aged’ rib-eye?’ I thought. Well, I was about to find out. It was more tender than the ‘wagyu’ but it had the same squelchy, mushy texture. Worse still for me was the acrid, bitter aftertaste. This was the first time I can remember leaving steak uneaten. I felt bad for the chefs. This wasn’t bad cooking – it’s just the way they do things.
That evening, I looked again at their online menu and spotted something. Their ‘super aged’ meat is dry aged, then wet aged. This means it’s hung, before being put into plastic bags to continue ageing. While purists invariably prefer dry ageing, most of the beef on sale in this country is wet aged. It’s simply an easier, lower cost way of tenderising the meat. When the process goes too far though, it’s known to produce a sour flavour and texture, reminiscent of frozen meat.
We passed on the offer of desserts and made a hasty retreat. This meal will live long in the memory for all the wrong reasons. It’s worth mentioning that the service was very good all night and there’s nothing wrong with the atmosphere in the restaurant. I also think it’s a nice idea to have a halal menu alongside the regular one. Let’s be honest though, there are few positives here.
In future we’ll be even more selective over the invites we accept. Although, after publishing this post, it may no longer be a problem.
If you’ve got loads of money and no idea about steak, this is the place for you. If not, rest assured that the best steak you’ll find at Westfield is behind the butcher’s counter at Waitrose.
Estimated cost (inc. service) – £205
1 x Starter
2 x Steaks
2 x Aperetifs
1 x Bottle of wine (£40)
All food and drink in this review was provided free of charge by The Meat Co.Visit Site
Address: Unit 1026, Ariel Way, Westfield, Shepherds Bush, London
Telephone: 0208 749 5914
Dry Aging v wet againg : theatlantic.com
Wagyu Beef: wagyu.gourmet55.com