So how do you follow the amazing birthday celebration? A tough question that wasn’t so easy to resolve.
Step forward the Cattle Grid, Soho; a restaurant that prides itself on the highest quality steaks without breaking the bank. They don’t profess to have the rarest cattle, the most aged, or the world’s tastiest, but they’re very proud of what they do.
Having our moments of rather tight-fisted behaviour we decided to put this value to the test with steak-off.
After we’d blessed our newest members with crisp white jackets – they only time they’re allowed to be so. Then heard meat tales from our latest guests, which were quite frankly rather worrying, one even mentioning the v word, we decided to get stuck in to the steak challenge.
First a warm up – the Baby Back ribs. From the official source: These beauties are pre-cooked to avoid charring in a spice, beer rib stock. These are then grilled at temperature whilst being brushed with a sauce to avoid over caramelising. The sauce includes tomato, soy, garlic, wine, sake, and onion to give a sweet, tangy, spicy flavour.
They are without doubt the tastiest ribs we’ve ever tasted – take note other Soho based proprietors. We might not be surrounded by the luxury of the Boundary, we know we were on to something good with these ribs.
So on to the main course. Beef from Balymena, Ireland, purchases at the well regarded Smithfields Market and hung for 28 days. All guest were equipped with a score card, asking for a sauce of 1 to 5 for the following characteristics, leading to a total for each steak and an overall rating:
Our first bout was between rump and sirloin, two popular joints known to most households:
Rump not surprising is from the back of the cow, requiring a longer cook to guarantee tenderness. It can have poor marbling and as a result can be dry if poorly cooked. Sirloin is from the lower ribs and has better marbling. For those of an older generation its the definitive steak.
It was a close call with Rump just edging it.
Then came Rib-eye versus Fillet.
Rib-eye (also known as the cowboy steak) can be cut boned, or bone-in. Cooking on the bone helps trap juice and keep the meat moist. It tends to have good marbling, and despite often being overlooked, is hard to beat if reared and cooked well. Fillet has little fat and a cell structure that make it tender and easy to chew. Despite being the most expensive cut it requires a lot of help in the preparation and cooking to unlock its flavour.
Despite the above write up it wasn’t a slam-dunk victory, but as you might have guessed Rib-Eye came top.
Its also worth saying we also got to sample three fine sauces: Green peppercorns, blue cheese and béarnaise sauce.
Now we’re a demanding bunch and we like our meat cooked just right, a few of the steaks were well not perfectly rare. But consider 26 hungry carnivores turning up to a small kitchen and wanting those 26 steaks all served at the same time. All things considered was a cracking show.
After much spirited debate it was clear that the Rib-eye steak was coming out top, but even with all this meat we were still feeling a bit hungry. Cue another order for ribs – but unfortunately there was none left, then a request for more Rib-eye Steak. Thankfully there was enough and out it came, cooked to perfection – big lick of lips.
As is tradition with Meat Club we invite the chef out to detail his evenings creations. It was a great pleasure to meet our culinary conjurer and hear what he’d done. Receiving a grand round of applause he let it slip…. And let’s say this quietly – that he had to make an mergence call to his butcher, as we (the mightily Meat Club) had eaten them out of meat. Get in.
Then with a flutter, a small piece of paper appeared with the final amount. We’d promised the Club this would be a bargain and as we calculated the individual amount, we were all very pleasantly surprised. We had consumed a lot of quality meat and we certainly hadn’t broken the bank.
That was a fitting end to a great evening. Well done the Cattle Grid.