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Steakhouse

32 Rivington Street,
London EC2A 3LX
020 7749 0478
http://www.chickenandsteak.co.uk/menus/66/

There is a certain type of person that works at Shoreditch – mostly the creative types, with talent and musicality spilling out of their ears, and in recent months, a preponderence of facial hair. Our waiter at Tramshed certainly fit the facial hair criterion, and our theory about the rest of him was that he was a massively talented musician/programmer/designer who was making ends meet by working a night shift at a cool Shoreditch restaurant. Tramshed is one of those cool places. It marries Mark Hix’s (of St. John Restaurant fame) culinary ethos with cutting-edge art. On the latter, one must query whether anything from Damien Hirst or a painting of the Cartoon’s Network’s Cow and Chicken would count as art.

The entire dining premise of Tramshed can be summed up by the artwork which is the centrepiece of industrial-chic converted warehouse the restaurant is in; in Damien Hirst’s inimitable style, a black rooster is perched on the back of a full-sized cow in a tank of blue preserving solution, serving as a macabre introduction to the things one can expect on the menu. Perhaps it is also a silent commentary of what the food and meat-processing industries represent – that in spite of the uneasy feeling we have in supporting an industry whose parlous treatment of animals is enough to make grown men cry, we choose nevertheless to ignore the elephant (or, in this case, cow and chicken) in the room because we simply can’t imagine life without meat. See also Banksy’s moving, squeaking expository in New York’s meatpacking district earlier this month.

Cow and Chicken, get it?Tramshed_Cow and Chicken

But I digress. We go to restaurants to be fed and make merry, and the more likely reason for the Damien Hirst installation is simply because it looked cool. Back to the food – the menu is simple enough to navigate. There are two chicken options, a Barn-Reared Indian Rock for two to three to share, or a spring chicken for one. The chicken is served vertically in a bowl which has an 8-inch stake in the middle that is thrusted through the bird’s cavity, legs facing upwards. The meat fell off the bone easily and the skin well crusted with brine. I was surprised at how big the chicken was – between the four of us there was plenty to go around.

The ribeye steak that we had was decent, but there was something missing from it. Based on what we had it wouldn’t be fair to compare it to Hawksmoor, as the steak here wasn’t grilled on the bone and I can only attest to the bone-in cuts at Hawksmoor. However Hawksmoor does use British Yorkshire Longhorn beef from the Ginger Pig butchery in London, which Heston Blumenthal has remarked is the best beef he’s had. I suspect even Tramshed’s bone-in cuts will find that quite difficult to beat.

Tramshed_FriendsThe meal ended with us celebrating Manav’s birthday. The idea initially was to get our bearded waiter to bring us a small chocolate cake with a candle in it and make it a surprise. Our poor man forgot to ask exactly whose birthday we were celebrating and fluffed it up. He thought it was Carmen’s birthday and completely missing Belinda’s glances in Manav’s direction as he spoke to her. What ensued was a charade of furtive pointing, uneasy glaring (from Belinda), and a futile attempt on his part to cover his mouth with a dessert menu when he discovered, belatedly, that the birthday boy was sitting at the table looking on in confused amusement. I thought it particularly funny that as he walked away stewing in embarrassment, he stopped and smacked himself on the forehead with his menu before slouching off to get the cake. 

Tramshed_Salted Caramel FondueThe birthday cake-slice that did come was a strong and dense dark chocolate cake, good but quite conventional. The salted caramel fondue with marshmallows and donuts was a lot more interesting. If one thinks about it, caramel and marshmallows are basically sugar served in different ways, but there’s something particularly decadent about coating one with the other and having them together.

Friends.
Tramshed_Manav

Shoreditch, Rivington Street, just outside Tramshed.Tramshed_Shoreditch exterior

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9 Duke Street
London W1U 3EG

It’s been busy times the last couple of weeks for us so this shall be a short photo-entry! I visited Zoilo with friends nearly a year back for some Argentinian food. Steak featured prominently in their selection of small plate choices, but the Provoleta (grilled “pulled-curd Provolone cheese“) topped with almonds and honey (first picture below) was the best dish that night.

Also, I have since decided that flank and skirt are my favourite cuts of beef. It’s cheap, flavoursome, and gorgeously tender when done medium rare – or rare even, if one is feeling French.

Provoleta, Almonds and HoneyZoilo_Provoleta Almonds and Honey Classic EmpanadaZoilo_Empanadas “Asado” Flank Steak – with Celeriac and Bone Marrow
Zoilo_Asada Flank Steak
Prawns “Al Ajo” with Pork BellyZoilo_Prawns Al Ajo with Pork Belly Skirt Steak and Parsnip Chips (i think)Zoilo_Skirt Steak OctopusZoilo_OctopusDessert TrioZoilo_Dessert Trio

Goodman Steak Restaurant
11 Old Jewry
London EC2R 8DU
http://www.goodmanrestaurants.com/

Some friends and I had a bit of a steak eating craze earlier in the year. Belinda’s birthday was coming up in February so this was as good a reason to expend our meagre student budgets on a meal out.

The restaurant floor was spacious and boisterous, as expected of a roomful of large Yankee men. The wooden panelling and red leather seats contributed to the feel that this was a place where people of upstanding character got together for a feast of roast cow, good booze and congratulatory back thumping. The staff were all smiles, replete with rehabilitated southern drawls. All in all, a very nice atmosphere for a friendly get-together.

Prime Rib and Porterhouse Cuts, with a side of Gruyere Cream SpinachAs this was after all an American steak diner, the meat was air-flown USDA beef. The beef was undoubtedly good, but it seemed to be quite an effort to fly it across the Atlantic when there were perfectly good cows to eat here. Aside from the rather large carbon hoofprint it left, there was no disputing the quality of the steak. It was well aged and hit most of the right spots. The Porterhouse had been done just right, but the prime rib was slightly overdone, which is a pretty grave mistake if you’re going to serve the steak as is.

Generally quite good.

Mac & Cheese and Chunky Fries – best sharedA steakhouse wouldn’t be complete without an accompaniment of mac & cheese, fries and cream spinach. The consensus at the table was that the sides were rather good. The cheese in the pasta and the spinach was all we expected it to be – full of rich, velvety, artery-clogging goodness. The fries were well salted, evenly fried and extremely good for soaking up any remaining gravy on the plates.

The Real Velvet McCoyI mentioned we were celebrating a birthday. The Hummingbird Bakery makes a stellar red velvet cupcake. They also make a stellar red velvet CAKE. It was all very Alice in Wonderland-like, stuffing our faces in what is normally a fist-sized dessert.

The lads in the kitchenThe place purportedly serves a kick-ass burger as well. In general, Goodman is a place for large gatherings. The bone-in cuts are served in chunks of about 1 kilogram (2.2oz) each, it would have been a tall order for any group smaller than 3 people to finish one cut. Individual cuts of fillet and ribeye etc. are available, but if one would like to order a decent selection of sides, it’s still better to go in a big enough group. There was a large American man next to us who had a substantial-looking steak with the mac & cheese and spinach, but I doubt his cardiologist would have been happy about that.

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