When the bill arrives, it's still just a hunk of beef

Kelner's View

Share
Related Topics

Has anyone told the restaurateurs of London that there's a
recession on, that there are strikers on the streets and that the
entire global financial system is about to collapse? Austerity?
Make mine a double. Hardship? Get out the white truffles.

Every week, it seems, there is a new restaurant opening in London, with ever more dizzying prices. And the current vogue seems to be high-end steak restaurants where you need a Greek-style bailout when the bill arrives. Call me a foodie Philistine if you like, but I've never really been able to get behind the movement to treat a hunk of beef like it was vintage wine. OK, I can tell the difference between a bad steak and a good one - which, let it be said, is often about the cooking more than the quality of the meat - but I can't then go up another level to the carnivorean grand cru. I make this point because a few days ago I was dining with a friend in one of these new establishments in London, and to facilitate our decision-making, the waiter brought a tray with various joints of meat wrapped in napkins.

"And this one," he said, introducing the top of the bill, "is rib-eye from Chile, absolutely melt-in-your-mouth delicious." My friend was sold, and while she knew this wasn't any old rib-eye, what she didn't know was that it was, according to the menu, "100 per cent pure breed Wagyu beef from IX region of Araucania in Chile".

I'm sure that if we'd wanted to know what his brothers and sisters were called, we'd have been able to find out. Wagyu is a breed of Japanese cow that produces, according to experts, highly-prized meat of distinct flavour and intense marbling.

Anyway, let's fast-forward a little. The steak was good, but not that good. And what are you supposed to say about it? It was possible to admire the medium-rarity of it, but you couldn't really wax lyrical about the sublime skill and ingenuity of the chef. Or the marvellous compedium of flavours. It wasn't like getting your first taste, all those years ago, of Marco Pierre White's oysters and tagliatelle in champagne sauce. Or even Heston's triple-fried chips.

In the end, I'm afraid, a steak is a steak is a steak. This one was different in one respect, however. Well, we're well past the days of the 2 gallon of petrol and the 1 newspaper, and now we've arrived at the 85 steak. Yes, that's right, 85 quid! For a steak! And what's even more astonishing is that this is the going rate: there are around half a dozen restaurants in the capital charging a similar amount. And you know what: my friend complained that she'd been sold a false bill of goods. "It didn't melt in my mouth," she said. "I had to chew it."

There was only one thing for it, we agreed: they ought to be taken out and shot. Oops.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Simon Usborne: The more you watch pro cycling, the more you understand its social complexity

Simon Usborne
 

i Editor's Letter: The final instalment of our WW1 series

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice