It was raining biblically the night I went to Goodman in Mayfair. The kind of rain that tends to elude England, a country where even the weather can’t be bothered to give things much passion, generally opting for a half-arsed drizzle or a middling grey than anything that could even closely resemble fervour. But on this evening last week the rain was like a scorned lover, coming down in a relentless barrage, rendering Oxford Circus a soggy mess, driving in sideways, defying any and all umbrellas.
And so it was that I walked through the restaurant doors a dripping mess, water pooling at the tip of my nose and my thoughtfully flat-ironed hair long gone, a frizzy mop in its place. I couldn’t have arrived anywhere more perfect for my state, or to a space more removed from the chaos outside. Low lighting meant my smudged makeup and unruly hair were softened into something vaguely acceptable and a swiftly delivered Goodman martini (Grey Goose vodka, garnished with gorgonzola stuffed olives, a relatively good hint at the gluttony to come) helped blur the memory of zigzagging around tourists and narrowly avoiding being poked in the eye by a stranger’s umbrella.
I am a fairly confident meat eater but I’m also not usually one to simply order a steak because often there are more interesting things going and, if I’m being honest, there is still an inherent adolescent nervousness about being a woman ordering a ‘man’s’ food – shoutout to diet culture for that one! So, when I do commit to ordering a steak I do so with the kind of reckless abandon usually exhibited by children whose parents ‘don’t let them eat sugar’ who, when let loose at a friend’s birthday party, tend to raid the cakes table for everything it’s worth. That’s to say, I go hell for leather. And if you’re going to go hardcore carnivore, Goodman is the place to do it.
View on Instagram
Steaks come from hand-picked suppliers around the world and are then aged in-house to ensure quality control – no mean feat for a restaurant group with three locations. There is a set menu but the fun stuff happens on the blackboard where the cuts of the day are listed. Whopping big T-bones arrive seared to perfection on charcoal grills, simply seasoned and accompanied by silver pots of sauce. The meat is pink and tender and unleashes something almost animalistic inside of me, as I eat with ardour and immense joy, scooping up piles of buttery mash, dolloping ribbons of creamed spinach onto my plate and dunking slice after slice of perfectly cooked meat into piquant peppercorn sauce and herby bearnaise and the deep, unctuous depths of a jus. With the benefit of hindsight, I think I may have been iron-deficient.
It was one of those rare, wholly unexpected yet entirely perfect meals. Washing the meat down with a big, juicy Duckhorn merlot from Napa Valley and punctuating it with a sundae piled high with warm, house-made chocolate chip cookies, I genuinely felt like I was freeing the 15-year-old version of myself who couldn’t have imagined eating with such enthusiasm. Like many girls who were raised on a diet of Tumblr and shitty tabloid magazines, I used to hold onto that infamous Kate Moss quote, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”, like it was the bible. At the end of my meal at Goodman, I couldn’t help but think Kate’s never eaten a fucking good piece of meat.
View on Instagram
London isn’t exactly a city renowned for its steakhouses, but when you go looking for them you’ll realise they’re everywhere. The Blacklock group now has five restaurants around the city, and yet all of them remain consistently, entirely wonderful. Kick off any meal with their selection of chops and finish with towering scoops of cheesecake from the tray that roams around the room and I’m certain you’ll leave happier than when you walked in. Hawksmoor has built a small empire off of the humble steak – and even went so far as to open an outpost in the city where the steakhouse reigns supreme, NYC – and continues to dish up great cuts of meat with a side dose of good hospitality. The group’s waterfront restaurant in Wood Wharf is the perfect escape from reality.
There are the Argentine-focused Gaucho restaurants where tackling beef’s carbon footprint is the current main priority. Steak is given a truly British makeover at Quality Chop House which does one of the city’s finest Sunday lunches but also serves cracking cuts of meat all week long, while Smith & Wollensky did a switcheroo of the ol’ Hawksmoor approach and brought a slice of NYC to London.
At a time when small plates are everywhere and the restaurant industry (in London in particular) is so full of incredible talent and a literal world’s worth of cuisines and flavours, there’s something to be said for the joyous simplicity of sitting down for a superlative steak. 15-year-old me might not have done it, but 26-year-old me would like to order your finest cut, cooked medium rare. Please and thank you.