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
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
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

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas