Thursday, October 25, 2018

Goodman Mayfair London

The Goodman Restaurant opened its first outlet in Maddox Street, Mayfair in 2010. Goodman is Russian owned, the boss being Mikhail [Misha] Zelman a 42-year-old baby Oligarch. Over the years, the Goodman Restaurant Group has expanded dramatically. The group now has 3 Goodman’s in London, several Burger & Lobster outlets in the UK, Dubai and the Gulf, a standalone restaurant called Beast, and, Zelman’s Meats in two London locations. A large operation by any standards.

We had been to Goodman a few years ago when we had a riotous evening when our friends from Bombay the Le Grand Fromage the Tax Lawyer, his friend, and, our Friend Philosopher and Guide from London joined us. Then for some reason we did not go back to Goodman. Over the years we had our steaks at Peter Luger in New York, Cestr in Prague, Girarrosto Fiorentina in Rome, Hawksmoor and the Guinea Grill in London, all of which I have written about. The answer to the inevitable question is Peter Luger by a country mile.

HRH the Queen of Kutch wanted to eat a burger, so I suggested we eat at Goodman, who make a really good burger, which she could have, while I could enjoy a steak. A booking was made and on a very mild early Autumn evening we walked to Goodman.

A large 150-seater place with a very clubby feel. Wood paneling on the walls, a wooden floor, wooden tables with no tablecloths, leather upholstered banquettes and plain wooden chairs were the décor. A bar ran along one wall where you could sit and have your meal. An attractive proposition if you were a single diner. Warm happy buzz as our coats were whisked away and we were seated at a large 4 person table. Most surprisingly, pleasantly I must add, many of the senior staff were English speaking with English as their “Mother Tongue”.

One side of a single A4 sheet had the menu, a separate Cocktails and Spirits list and a separate wine list were handed over. On the wall was a blackboard listing the special cuts that were being offered as daily specials. A Gin Martini with Olives for HRH the Queen of Kutch and a Vodka Martini with a Twist for me were ordered while we looked at the short menu and settled into our seats. A burger, medium rare with Bacon and Cheese [no onion] for HRH the Queen of Kutch and a USDA Sirloin 350 grams also medium rare for me. A side order of Spinach with Chilli. The burger came with chips so we did not order anything more.

The wine was ordered - 2013 Bodega Norton D.O.C, Malbec, Lujan De Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina. What turned up was a 2015 vintage, not that it made much difference to us. I sweetly asked if it was OK if I took photographs of the food [I always do rather than being told later that you cannot and have an embarrassing moment] to which I was told, of course. Not only that, the manager offered to take us to the kitchen for a tour. Goody!

The Martinis were as they should be, cold and bracing. Well made. Soon the starters turned up. HRH the Queen of Kutch ordered a smoked Burrata on Sourdough which was truly excellent. Burrata is a modern creation. It is made with a centre consisting of hot Mozzarella combined with cold Mozzarella leftover bits and cream. The whole ball has two textures, a chewy outside and a much creamier centre. The smoking was light, just having put a pale yellow colour on the skin of the Burrata. Coarse Pepper and Salt Flakes were sprinkled which added pop. The inside was creamy. As I said, excellent. My choice was a favourite of mine – Lobster Bisque. Hot as in ‘garam’ well seasoned and really tasty. Suffers in the looks department with a muddy colour. Well begun.

HRH the Queen of Kutch got her magnificent Hamburger. The burger here is made with aged meat and is for grown-ups. This is a “clean” burger where you can see each component. There are no messy sauces and caramelized onions to mix up tastes. This is a classic burger with the classic ingredients, pickle, tomato, lettuce and patty garnished with ketchup and mayo. Extras added were bacon and cheese. The patty makes this burger special. The meat is the aged beef used by Goodman for their steaks. The grind is coarse and has a healthy fat content. The result is the patty almost tastes like eating a steak. The burger is large, probably 50% larger than the Patty & Bun burger, and, is really enough for dinner. The bowl of chips was magnificent. Large golden chips with a crisp outside and a soft center. Really good chips. I stole quite a lot.

My steak was good. One of the better I have eaten. I requested a Pepper Sauce with my steak as well as some English mustard. Mustard is fast becoming our condiment of choice. The spinach looks as good as it tasted. A large helping. I was rather pleased with my meal.

After we finished the Manager invited us for the kitchen tour. This was going to be exciting. The kitchen had a large meat room in which were several cuts being dry aged. Also, in the room were the American steaks which come in plastic bags. These are then opened and dry aged. The smell in the room was distinct, pleasant and very sweet. Not the smell of meat, frankly, slowly aging i.e. rotting to put it crudely. This was fascinating.

Next, we went to the hot kitchen in which I saw the Josper Grills in action. I have read a lot about these grills. Many restaurants proudly state that they use Josper Grills. Josper is a Spanish company which makes these grills. They are unique in as much as they use coal. A lot of coal, and have the advantage of allowing you to use different types of coal like combining the Japanese Binchotan with normal coal. You can even add wood to flavor the food. The Grills are versatile as you can use the rack to grill directly or place the food on a pan. The heat is intense, so the food really roasts and does not gently bake. Saw some steaks being cooked on them, the chef in charge said he turns them every 30 seconds. In the photo you will see a line of timers, crucial when cooking multiple steaks. Once done, the chef took the meat out and used a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature and consequent level of doneness. I was impressed. Such a sensible thing to do.

Tour over, it was time for dessert. Anne-Marie’s Outrageous Cookie Sundae, Chocolate and Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream sounded just right, so a single was ordered. Childish but very good. Chocolate chip cookie, ice cream with bits of Fudge. How could you not like this?

In the end, both HRH the Queen of Kutch and I reached the conclusion that Goodman was a far better experience than Hawksmoor. Both are priced similarly, but here at Goodman the slightly more formal atmosphere and more sophisticated clientele seemed to make a big difference. In balance, we will probably continue to visit Goodman and give Hawksmoor a miss.

Of course, you should eat at Goodman. The steaks are really good. Just a few perfunctory fish dishes. This place is for meat and red wine.

Our meal of 2 starters, 1 burger, 1 steak and 1 side dish and 1 pudding cost GBP 80 i.e. INR 8000. Service and booze are over and above this. Well worth it if you ask me.  

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