“The waiter approached.
‘Would you like to see the menu?’ he said. ‘Or would you like to meet the Dish of the Day?’
‘Huh?’ said Ford.
‘Huh?’ said Arthur.
‘Huh?’ said Trillian.
‘That’s cool,’ said Zaphod. ‘We’ll meet the meat.”
– Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Do you remember that scene when the cow is not only still alive as it’s wheeled in on the serving dish but helpfully gives diners its advice on the best cuts to eat?
I was reminded of that this week. I don’t get out much these days – too busy cooking at home – but I wanted to take a good friend out to lunch to celebrate her birthday and to thank her for the enormous amounts of help she’s given me lately.
So I asked her for her ab fav cuisine and it came down to a toss-up between Chinese and steak. Since I ate my own weight in dim sum last time we shared a Chinese I opted to take her for a slap-up steak dinner. And it turned out to be a bit of a winner.
We went to the Goodman steakhouse in Mayfair, one of three restaurants in a small London chain. They specialise in New York-style grain-fed beef steak, along with some which is English and grass-fed, but on the day we went the menu also included lobster, burgers, lamb or poussin.
It was a weekday lunchtime and the very clubby-looking restaurant – all dark brown wood and leather, walls lined with books no-one will ever read – was jammed with men in suits. Apparently it’s a bit more family-friendly in the evenings.
But as possibly the only two females dining together we didn’t feel conspicuous and the service, while efficient, was relaxed. It didn’t feel like one of those places where they try to rush you through your meal to squeeze in a second sitting, one of my pet peeves.
Our waitress was chatty (when invited to be) and knowledgeable about the food. She offered to bring us the special platter so we could make our own choice of meat, which is what reminded me of Douglas Adams, but we were happy enough with a printed menu.
We both had the tiger prawn tempura to start, which was served with a tasty stack of avocado and mango and a spicy mayo. Maybe there was a tad too much mayo, if I’m being picky, but the prawns were light and non-greasy and tasted great. I virtually inhaled mine, my friend ate more daintily.
The main event at Portman, of course, is the steak and we both opted for the 350g New York Sirloin, probably the smallest slab of beef they offer.
I asked for mine medium rare and it’s just as well – if I’d requested it rare, as I usually do, it would still have been mooing and quite possibly advising me on which bit to eat first. It was tasty, well cooked and well seasoned.
We both liked the truffled chips – triple cooked and then sprinkled with truffle oil, they were crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and the amount of truffle flavouring was well judged.
I loved my bearnaise sauce; my friend’s pepper sauce was a bit of a disappointment in terms of intensity.
With sides of salad and steamed spinach it took us most of the afternoon to walk off the meal.
It wasn’t cheap (look away now, JK) at about £60 a head with only one glass of house red between us and no puds. But it was a really enjoyable meal and I’d certainly go there again. Recommended.