Meat People, 4-6 Essex Road, London N1

With cathedrals to the carnivorous urge opening all around, does Meat People make the cut?

It is currently being said in the foodie blogosphere that meat is on the march in London. Restaurants with names such as Meat Liquor and Meateasy have recently opened or acquired a modicum of fame; and the turn-of-the-century hopes of veggies everywhere, that the rest of us would forgo dead animals in aid of the planet, our stomachs and the animals themselves is yet to be fulfilled.

In fact, meat never went away; rather, the fad is for sticking this solid, authentic word into the name of establishments to signify the solidity and authenticity of the food inside. It is also presumably intended to tell vegetarians they might be better off next door, and in the case of Meat People, in Islington, north London, I imagine the pun is intended, too: come here to meet people, among like-minded people who do meat.

This is a steakhouse that does cocktails. It has a short menu; trendy, charming and young waiting staff; stylish décor; excellent beef; better mains than starters; better desserts than mains; fine fish; and superb historic and cultural pedigree. It's a Grade II-listed building that used to be called Alfredo's, before it was called S&M, for the sausage and mash chain. And it featured in Frank Roddam's 1979 film Quadrophenia, starring Phil Daniels and Leslie Ash, inspired by the album of the same name by The Who. For all these reasons, I suspect it will become a local favourite.

The pork-belly starter (£6.50) comes with a mixed-bean salad and has been "roasted slowly for five hours". That tastes like roughly four hours too many since, as is more often the case than not with pork belly, it is too dry. The seared scallops (£8) with chickpea purée and criolla sauce (made from red peppers) are serviceable only, which at that price isn't good enough. But the ox kidney (£6.50) with portobello-mushroom carpaccio is excellent and has a very intense, woodland aroma. You can also get grilled mackerel, rocket salad, and cured meat.

The mains aren't restricted to meat. There is a marvellous wild-mushroom risotto (£13), expertly cooked so that the texture is thick without being gloopy, which, with the aid of requested Parmesan shavings, might be the best thing on the menu; and the pan-fried sea bream (£13.50) with beetroot and broad beans is thoroughly worthy of its price.

But it is the giant hunks of seared, sizzling and generally uncomplicated meat that these guys pride themselves on, and with good reason.

The 225g onglet steak from Ulster is cheapest at £13, and probably worth passing over in favour of the 300g grilled rib-eye from La Pampa in Argentina. Remarkable to think: at £18.50, this is actually decent value in our inflationary capital. This fatty, greasy, but moist slab is very flavourful, and when accompanied by the béarnaise, blue cheese or chimichurri (parsley and oregano) sauces, goes down an absolute treat. There are also beef ribs – £16 for 400g and £32 for a kilo – that have all the barbecue vapours you could hope to muster in the Deep South.

All of the sides are skilfully done. The asparagus with Parmesan and soft egg (£4) is a welcome aid to digestion after all that carcinogenic beef, and the roast courgette with chilli and balsamic (£3) would serve as a fine starter, too.

It is in the nature of steakhouses to pump you with heavy desserts at the end of an exceptionally calorific meal – one reason for the mass obesity of urban America. Here is no exception, but the final courses are very good, so I would suggest that you fast for a week in preparation. The lime cheesecake with white-chocolate sauce (£5.50) is a wonderful collusion of citric acidity with smooth cocoa, and the filo-pastry tower with a berry compote and a little too much icing sugar (£4.80) is memorable.

The wine list is very reasonable, and the cocktails are simple and made to order. The décor is all tiling, lemon-yellow leather and unfussy upholstery, and has the Deco character of the 1920s. That is why the clientele here is young and romantically inclined, and gives the impression of generally being on the way up rather than the way down.

The same could be said for this restaurant, so that most of its customers will leave feeling it really is the sort of place you want to meet people.

7/10

Scores: 1-3 stay home and cook, 4 needs help, 5 does the job, 6 flashes of promise, 7 good, 8 special, can't wait to go back, 9-10 as good as it gets

Meat People 4-6 Essex Road, London N1, tel: 020 7359 5361 Lunch and dinner daily. About £150 for four, including three bottles of wine

Sizzling steakhouses

Upstairs at the Grill 70 Watergate Street, Chester, tel: 01244 344 883

They know their steaks and agreeably priced wine at this venture, where the aim is to bring Manhattan style to the Roman city centre

Constancia

52 Tanner Street, London SE1, tel: 020 7234 0676

A very authentic Argentinian, just south of Tower Bridge; highlights of the menu include fabulous meat and tasty puddings

Popeseye

108 Blythe Road, London W14, tel: 020 7610 4578; 277 Upper Richmond Road, London SW15, tel: 020 8788 7733

This quirky duo of west London bistros offer a simple, meat-based formula that hits the spot (with a fantastic wine list as a bonus)

Reviews extracted from 'Harden's London and UK Restaurant Guides 2012' www.hardens.com

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness