Goodman, restaurant review: Far more refined than just the caveman slab-of-steak thing
Goodman, Mayfair branch, 26 Maddox Street, London W1, tel: 020 7499 3776
Lisa Markwell is the editor of The Independent on Sunday. She was previously executive editor of The Independent, i and The Independent on Sunday and has edited the features pages, and both the Saturday and Sunday supplements. She writes comment pieces for the papers and restaurant reviews for the New Review. Lisa has worked across a variety of newspapers and magazines and can now tick off every publication cycle from daily to quarterly. She is an enthusiastic foodie, mother of two teenagers and drives an electric car. She is writing a book about adoption.
Sunday 04 May 2014
So there I was, standing, soaked, waiting by a locked car for a man not answering his phone. My only hope was that he'd remember we had a booking for the restaurant outside which the car was parked, and mosey back, driven by hunger.
In the modern manner, I tweeted, "I have lost my husband, whose phone has died, in the West End. If anybody sees him, please send him to wife in rain on Maddox Street." And in the modern manner, the manager of the restaurant – who didn't know I'd booked in – tweeted, "Come inside our place on Maddox Street and wait with a drink." Cute.
After a short interlude during which Words Are Exchanged, Mr M and I make it inside Goodman. This is another of those "been meaning to come here for years" places, like Bob Bob Ricard the other week. I'm leaving the so-new-I-can-still-smell-the-paint places for others right now.
Goodman is a three-venue mini-chain, and there's its brother chain Burger & Lobster, too (all in London for now, alas). They've got a reputation for bossing the steaks market. Now, if you caught Archie Bland's elegant takedown of the horror that is Angus Steakhouse (read it here: ind.pn/1j8UYvp), you'll know there are some terrible crimes against meat in London. Does paying upward of £50 for a couple of steaks guarantee anything these days?
Goodman is full of suits when we walk in. It's utterly evocative of a classic New York steakhouse: dark, wooden detailing, loud music, booths and lots of bellowing men. But offsetting it is a powerhouse team of women – I count at least six, from manager Helen to steak expert Gabi. It creates a harmonious balance that says, "Yes, we know you're a caveman at heart, but leave your spears at the door."
(Having said that, I can't believe there are many customers who could resist wanting their own monogrammed steak knife, as regulars have – and which are displayed in a cabinet at the back of the bustling room.)
I watch a tray of Flintstone-sized steaks as it is paraded around on a tray and wonder whether I'm about to bite off more than I can (literally) chew. Luckily, Gabi takes the time to explain the range, from dainty fillets to hulking porterhouses; and provenance, from corn-fed USDA Angus to grass-fed Lake District. American meat is about texture, and is slightly sweeter; I want the gamey chew of home-grown.
And like Mr and Mrs Sprat (hey, after 23 years we just know), the porterhouse to share fits the bill. At 900g, it's an undertaking (for the stomach and the wallet – it's £72), but it's my birthday dinner and I have hours to masticate. One side of the longhorn's bone is sirloin marbled like the finest Carrara; the other, a deep ruby fillet. Of three kinds of chips (truffle, beef dripping and hand-cut), he wants the artery-hardening middle option (£5.50); I'm practically on a health kick with the wedge salad with Stilton and bacon (£9) and spinach creamed with gruyère (£4.50). And like the old married couple we are, we share a tennis-ball-sized head of roasted garlic (£1.50).
Damn but it's all rather sexy food, we agree as we share everything, with only the one clash of forks over the extra-charred nubbin from the end of the sirloin.
A finer riposte to the Angus Steakhouse I can't imagine: meat sourced, aged and cut with integrity; cooked just so (no open-artery pool of blood, and no grey middle either); and side orders cooked with care. There are non-steak dishes on offer, but really, why would you? I don't think I'll be coming here often enough to merit my own knife, but for a treat. And the biggest treat is at the end – we pop down to the kitchen to meet the chef, Phil, who shows us the steak-ageing room. The size and scent of the chunks inside are a Tiffany's window for carnivores. And the Josper grill on which they're cooked – that's a foodie's Porsche.
NB: Back to those bellowing men. If you do want to see off greedy bankers and their wretched bonuses, one way to do it might be to take them to Goodman (branches in the City and Canary Wharf) and feed them a 700g rib-eye with optional extra pan-fried foie gras and truffled chips, then sit back and watch them clutch their chests, scanning the room for a defibrillator. Too much?
Goodman, Mayfair branch, 26 Maddox Street, London W1, tel: 020 7499 3776. £120 for two, with drinks
Four more foodie notes from the past week
Wright Brothers Spitalfields
Absolutely faultless, leisurely birthday lunch: bespoke seafood platter and incredible xato salad – and a lovely waiter, Andre.
OK, he's my hairdresser, but his new salon has cool snacks – everything from fudge to kale chips – to munch on while in his expert hands.
Wanted one of these to make spaghetti out of courgettes but everywhere is sold out – it's clearly the kitchen gadget of the moment.
Bumped into Simon Hopkinson, my favourite and most trusted recipe writer, on the street. He says the jalapeños in Whole Foods are the best. And if he says so…
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