The Meat Co

The Meat Co is a steak house situated on the Southern Terrace of Westfield’s Shepherd’s Bush. The ground floor operates as a bar, and upstairs is an enormous dining area decorated in warm dark tones. Established in South Africa in 2000, The Meat Co resonates meat through and through. The headline act is the Connoisseurs’ Choice of cuts, which included chateaubriand, wagyu and kangaroo. There are also super-aged steaks, and for something simpler, meat skewers and burgers are available as well. For non-red meat eaters there are also chicken, seafood and veggie options. Basically there is a little something for everyone.

From the starters we tried the burrata cheese salad (£13.50) which came with a tasty whole piece of burrata and fresh Roma tomatoes, cucumber, rocket, and hazelnuts. A balsamic dressing had been used, but the salad needed more seasoning.

The Meat Co - Burrata cheese salad

Burrata cheese salad

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Palm Restaurant

The Palm Restaurant in London is an American steakhouse that first opened in New York in 1926 and which has since grown to several dozen restaurants throughout the United States. The London branch feels American through and through, and is located on Pont Street in Belgravia, right next to the Belgraves Hotel, a destination hotel for many American tourists. It is therefore unsurprising that most of its clientele are Americans, like the ones we spoke to while we had a drink at the bar. It’s a classic American steakhouse through and through with its white-linen tablecloths, soft lighting and booth seating, and it suits the well-healed clientele of Belgravia well.

For something reasonably light to start ahead of our big meaty meal, we went for the half a dozen Colchester oysters on the half shell (£13), which gave way to a sea-salty flavour and rich texture. Also yummy was the beautiful sesame seared yellow fin tuna (£15.90) with pickled ginger, wasabi, mache greens and ginger vinaigrette. It was a delight to eat and it needed little by way of accompaniment because the fish was elegant and flavoursome.

Colchester oysters

Colchester oysters

Yellow fin tuna

Yellow fin tuna

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Fire & Ice, Raffles Hotel, Dubai

Most of the best restaurants in Dubai are located in the hotels, and Fire & Ice is no exception. A sophisticated grill situated in the Raffles Hotel, Dubai, its dark, earthy colours and brickwork décor gives the restaurant the look and feel of a big hitting New York steakhouse. Flickering flames guard the open kitchen and this adds to the sense of the restaurant’s drama. Raffles Hotel predominantly caters to a corporate clientele so the design of the restaurant suits its customers well. Fire & Ice specialises in a variety of quality cuts of meat prepared to your liking, although there is also a reasonable range of seafood choices.

Being part of the family that includes the famous Raffles Singapore, it would be remiss to not begin the meal with a Singapore Sling, or in this case, a Dubai Sling (AED70 – about £12), a delicious mix of Plymouth gin, coriander, chilli gomme, fig preserve, lemon soda and angostura bitters. Fire & Ice also has an extensive list of 700 wines, and was awarded the Wine Spectator’s 2013 Award of Excellence.

Our meal started with an amuse bouche of cured salmon perched on top of some pickles and bell peppers that had been fragranced with saffron and coriander seeds. It was delicious from the superb spicing, and the salmon was sweet and delicate.

Cured salmon

Cured salmon

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Blue Restaurant at The Grand Heritage Hotel, Doha, Qatar (Day Two – Doha)

Grand Heritage Hotel

Grand Heritage Hotel

Day two of my stay in Doha saw me at the Grand Heritage Doha Hotel and Spa. The hotel is located inland away from the Corniche in the Al Waab district, right by The Aspire Zone, a famous Qatari sporting complex built for the 2006 Asian Games. The Grand Heritage Hotel is indeed very grand looking and resembles a sprawling Victorian mansion and houses Blue Restaurant that serves steak and Japanese food.

The Grand Heritage caters to both business and leisure travellers. There is a business centre which offers services such as binding, laminating, scanning and secretarial, etc, and a spa containing a number of amenities including treatment rooms, a natural pure water indoor swimming pool, a gymnasium, separate male and female saunas, steam room and whirlpool facilities.

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Hawksmoor Spitalfields Restaurant and Bar

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Restaurant and Bar was the original Hawksmoor, the hugely popular steak restaurant that paved the way for the other Hawksmoor branches in Seven Dials Covent Garden and Guildhall. My first visit to the Hawksmoor at Spitalfields proved to be a good, if slightly inconsistent experience. But when I tried the fabulous lobster roll at the Seven Dials branch, I became a fan of the Hawksmoor brand.

The Spitalfields branch recently launched a bar extension in its basement with 60 covers. Its focus is the bar (rather than food as is case with the restaurant upstairs) and it offers a selection of carefully selected cocktails, some of which date back to the original 2006 Hawksmoor cocktail list. The bar suits the Spitalfields area. It’s cool and chilled, and relies on the use of reclaimed materials to give it a slightly grungy look. There is also a bar menu which is quite distinct to the upstairs dining menu, with more snack-type eats to complement the drinks in the bar. It features a compilation of sandwiches, and more importantly, includes a lobster roll (£15). One cannot order from the main restaurant menu in the bar or vice versa.

It may seem funny that the item I enjoyed the most at a steak restaurant was their lobster, but the one I had at The Hawksmoor Seven Dials was truly glorious. The portion of juicy, tasty lobster was generous, and it was served on a brioche bread roll that was to die for. Finally it had been dressed with an decadent quantity of unctuous butter which turned this into something incredibly satisfying and addictive. Yum. Anyway, the one at Hawksmoor Spitalfields bar.was decent, but a little dry. Also, the brioche wasn’t quite to the standard set by Seven Dials. It only cost £15 rather than the £25 at Seven Dials, but it was also a smaller portion.

Lobster roll

Lobster roll

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Sophie’s Steakhouse – Chelsea

A recent Sunday lunch at Sophie’s Steakhouse in Chelsea revealed it to be a noisy family affair with swarms of children flying around. I adore kids, but if you’re looking for a quiet relaxing Sunday lunch, the Chelsea branch of Sophie’s Steakhouse might not be the best place to head. The fact that service wasn’t at its most efficient didn’t help either. The restaurant could probably have done with more front-of-house staff.

We kicked off with some pan-fried king prawns (6) with chilli & garlic (£14.95) which were of a decent quality. But the prawns were under seasoned and not particularly garlic-y.

Pan-fired king prawns

Pan-fired king prawns

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Cau Restaurant

Cau Restaurant is a new chain of Argentinean steakhouses by the people behind Gaucho. Cau (cleverly pronounced as ‘cow’) stands for Carne Argentina Única. The restaurant targets a more regional market, and the first UK branch is in Guildford which I visited. There is also another branch in Amsterdam.

The concept behind the Cau restaurant brand is far quirkier and more casual than Gaucho. This is evident in the restaurant’s design with the grass images on the ceilings and the sky blue walls. Waiters and waitresses wear ‘cauboy’ and ‘caugirl’ T-shirts which I thought was particularly fun. This is very much a family type restaurant and the amicable and pleasant service was testimony to this.

We started with a sweet potato salad with mixed greens and chorizo (£4.95) and a crab salad with baby gem lettuce (£6.50). Both salads lacked for dressing and both contained avocado which hadn’t ripened properly. There was far too much lettuce in the latter, and I would have also preferred more crab.

Sweet potato salad

Sweet potato salad

Crab salad

Crab salad

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