Ah steak! I’ve been travelling all over town in search of the perfect steak, and I think I’ve found my favourite. Hawksmoor Air, you did well, but it’s Goodman’s Canary Wharf that really stole the show with an incredible Nebraska corn-fed bone-in ribeye last night. It’s a long post, but there was a lot to eat!
To be honest few places really seemed to put out a product worthy of dropping a hefty chunk of the food budget. Keep in mind, I get my steaks direct from the suppliers at Smithfields Market (talk about excellent value!) so I’m biased when I have to fork over upwards of £30 for a piece of meat that would cost me £3. But I digress.
To establish some credentials (or at the very least my experience), I’ve tried out all four Hawksmoors, several Gauchos, Sophie’s Covent Garden, and an inordinate amount of other steakhouses in London ranging from the £10 deal at Butcher & Grill to a £42 T-Bone at MPW Steak & Ale House. I’ve gone through hundreds of my own preparation and purchase meat in the double digit kilo count from Smithfields. I may not be an uber expert, but I’ve eaten my way around a cow or two at least.
Let’s get to the meat of the matter (sorry for the terrible pun – couldn’t resist). Goodman’s is a steakhouse that really focuses on meat as its core competency. Everything is designed around the steak from the moment you walk in the door. We were seated and our hostess explained that our waitress would be along shortly to talk us through the various cuts on offer.
Bearing a full platter of raw meat, our waitress did just that and ran us through four of the more common cuts (sirloin, ribeye, fillet, and porterhouse) talking about the different levels of marbling, texture of the meat, and advice on the optimal level of cooking. We proceeded to pepper her with a variety of questions ranging from the effect on the meat given the type of food the cow ate (corn vs grain) to the effect leaving the bone in had on the final steak and even about the dry aging process.
In case you were curious, grass fed beef will have a fuller, meatier flavour but tends to be slightly leaner. Corn fed are more marbled on average and have a sweeter taste. Bone-in give you a better roasted flavour although will take out 150-200g from the weight so should be kept in mind when ordering a specific size. Dry aging is a type of process to draw out the depth of flavour in the meat but more on that later when we talk to Chef Tom.
Our group of four opted for a 700g Porterhouse (mix of sirloin and fillet) cooked medium rare and a 750g rib-eye recommended by our lovely waitress to be served medium. I confess, I was pretty apprehensive about going with the medium recommendation as I tend to eat my steaks medium rare to blue. I’m glad to be proven wrong as the medium rib-eye was a thick beast with a good amount of red showing in the middle. It was juicy with a charred salty crust and burst with such beefy flavour I was in love at first bite. I’m usually a sirloin fan, but that rib-eye converted me and I’ll be going for that next time without a doubt.
The sirloin was tasty but a little over-cooked (for my tastes) and just fell short of topping that first bite of rib-eye goodness. The fillet was incredibly tender and perfectly grilled for that type of cut. This was the first time for me that “melt-in-your-mouth” truly applied to a steak.
Needless to say, we would have been happy with just the steak but we also opted for a range of starters and sides, including a couple of starters.
Back to the food. Our starters including the lobster and sweet corn chowder, beef carpaccio, burrata with chorizo, and tempura tiger prawns with lime. As far as favourites, it was a toss up between the fresh crunchy tiger prawns with a light tempura batter and a refreshing lime and chilli marinade or the delicate lobster chowder. And yes, I fully mean delicate despite that rarely if ever being a term to describe a chowder. The slighty spicy chowder bordered on a bisque but managed to support the sweet notes of the lobster rather than overwhelming them. Talk about a perfectly balanced dish!
The burrata (a type of mozzarella cheese) with chorizo was a perfectly suitable composition but lacked the finesse or impressiveness of the other dishes. The carpaccio, however, was another stand out and just goes to show that these guys really know their meat. Sliced so fine and just barely cured, the tender shavings of beef had an almost creamy texture that contrasted nicely with the sharp bite of the parmesan and acidic tang of the balsamic vinegar. Brilliant dish, Goodman’s!
Sides were composed of truffle chips, regular chips, maple carrots with glazed pecans, creamed spinach, and a half grilled lobster tail. The carrots were good but not memorable, and the creamed spinach was possibly the cheesiest I’ve ever had (but this was never going to be a healthy meal). The regular chips were double fried (at least – potential for triple cooked given the crisp crunchy exterior) and would have been my favourite had it not been for the truffle fries. These were epic with enough truffle for flavour that teased the tongue without being cloying. The best thing I could say about these is that I couldn’t stop eating them, even after being stuffed with steak. Here’s a tip, dip them in the various sauces with the steak or the garlic butter sauce with the lobster tail for an extra decadent kick. I should say, the lobster tail was tasty with the grilling of the lobster really giving it a nice smooth sweet finish.
Sauce-wise, options are a red-wine and stilton combo, peppercorn, and béarnaise. All are excellent and are some of the best I’ve had of those types, but the red wine/stilton one was my favourite as it matched two things that just go so well with steak. I confess I ended up dipping everything into it and luckily we had two of each.
Finally, we pushed through for dessert, opting for just the sundae between Max and I although Sharon “helped out” despite her initial protests against it. The sundae is two scoops of dark chocolate ice cream, an inordinate amount of whipped cream, chocolate sauce, chocolate fudge pieces, and honeycomb bits all served in a frosted large whiskey tumbler. Very tasty, very rich, and more than enough to send you tumbling over the edge after an epic meal. Still, worth it.
We didn’t test the bar but ordered one of the bottles of Californian wine that is currently on the cost special – they are selling these wines at cost very Monday so that alone is worth a trip. The wine was perfectly matched to the food but I was so focused on eating I forgot to drink! And that alone, ladies and gents, should tell you how good the food was given my penchant for cocktails, wines, and pretty much anything of that sort.
Before you go, a bit of extra knowledge thanks to a tour of the meat dry aging room and the kitchen by Chef Tom, 3rd in line when it comes to Goodman’s CW royalty. The dry aging room is glass fronted so you can see all that wonderful beef slowly developing the flavour that makes the steaks here so damn good. But we got to go inside and get right up next to the meat and quiz Chef Tom on the process. Turns out, they do absolutely nothing to the beef other than stick it in this dry and very very cold room where it proceeds to sit for 28-40 days. The exterior few millimetres of the beef dry out over this time with the end result having an almost rock hard shell that has to be sliced off. There is also a carefully controlled mold that tends to cover the meat by the end of its aging cycle but no clue exactly what that does for the meat (or at least we couldn’t pluck up the courage to ask).
To slice the steaks, they have a full on band saw that will “go through bone like butter” so something to be careful of when working in the kitchen. And then the twin Josper grills which utilise three different types of fuel – soft wood, hard wood, and a compacted briquette. The woods add some heat but are mainly there for flavour whereas the compacted briquette gives a steady heat. Given the uncertainty of combinations and the fact you can’t fuel up during service, temperatures can vary from 250-400 degrees with control being primarily from controlling air flow into and out of the grill. With 20-30 steaks on the go at peak times, one can imagine that it takes skill of epic proportions to keep them coming perfectly cooked.
All that came to £60/person which included 1 bottle of Californian red, 750g bone-in Nebraska rib-eye, 700g Nebraska Porterhouse, 4 sides, 3 sauces, 2 starters, and 1 dessert. Not too bad for value for money actually, given that it would have left us full (2 guys, 2 girls, all steak lovers) and the extra free stuff just knocked us out.
Well that’s it. Goodman’s CW definitely takes the top spot for now. I do look forward to testing out the challengers!