Thursday, 4 February 2010

Goodman: #blokeseatbeef

A few weeks before Christmas, Twitter saw the organising of a ladies-only steak night at Hawksmoor restaurant, a casual comment from the food writer Simon Majumdar along the lines of "well bollocks to you lot then, any blokes up for a men-only steak night?" (I'm paraphrasing.  A bit.) and before you could say testosterone-fuelled-boozy-ball-scratching-beefy-banquet #blokeseatbeef had enough gonads committed to the cause to pack out the private dining room at the back of Goodman steakhouse in Mayfair.

I'd eaten at Goodman a couple of times before and I would have been more than happy if we'd just been a big gang of regular punters choosing from their regular menu but they went far out of their way to make it a very special event indeed, and not just with the range and quality of food and wine they obtained for the evening. 

As we were settling in with glasses of fizzy Chapel Down head chef John Cadieux sent the evening's expectations into the stratosphere with an entertaining and knowledgeable presentation of the beef we would be eating.  Four humungous slabs of ribeye sat on the table while John explained the 4 different breeds they were from (a USDA Hereford/Angus, Scottish Limosin, Irish Black Angus and Belted Galloway from the Lake District) how they'd been aged and the differences between them all, his expertise and passion for his subject much in evidence as he lovingly manhandled, sniffed, stroked, poked and prodded the goods.  

A plate of raw meat was passed round for us all to admire, the cry from one enthusiastic table of "my god, smell that, it's fantastic!  It smells just like a corpse!" is going to haunt me for some time to come.

Eager anticipation for John to get the ribs downstairs and start cooking turned into mild fear when he announced that what we saw was only half the beef they were cooking for us.  36kg in total.  Between 25 of us.  That weight includes the bones so you could say that it worked out at about 1kg of meat each, although given the bone gnawing I saw going on later in the night there's more than a few gentlemen who easily broke that estimate.

A starter of Frank Hederman smoked salmon served 2 different ways was accompanied by a talk from the man himself who'd flown over from Ireland to personally deliver the fish.

A kind of mad professor of the fish smoking world knowing far more than any one person really should about such things, Frank was a very entertaining speaker enthusiastically explaining as we ate the fish itself exactly what was (and wasn't) needed to produce such a fantastic end product.  Served simply in thick slices with just onions and capers it was a truly memorable starter.

The main event arrived to much excitement, the seemingly never ending plates of ribs just labelled 1-4, turning it into a blind steak tasting for us all to argue about the merits of each one as we ploughed through them.  There was no clear winner by the end of the night when John and David Strauss, Goodman's general manager and organisational super-hero took a show of hands and revealed which was which with opinion divided right across all 4.  Even as we were eating and debating the merits of the various plates ("has anyone got any more 2?", "I've not had any 4 yet", "that's not number 3, no way", "which one's this I'm eating?") individual opinions were swinging back and forth at dizzying rates.  I suspect most people's favourite was the one they ate last, although that might well just have been me.

The side dishes included the delicious tobacco onion rings and their legendary creamed spinach (20% of your 5-a-day and 100% of your calories-a-day) and - with David obviously concerned we might be going home hungry -  was all followed by a cheese course courtesy of La Fromagerie of Stichelton, Keen's cheddar and some Stinking Bishop which was well and truly living up to its name.  Humming to high heaven it looked like it was about to crawl off the plate, sprout little cheesey legs and run away.  The offer of a dessert of creme brulee or cheesecake was met with various noises ranging from groans and sobs to assorted belching and trumpety noises, the brave souls that managed to find the effort to raise a hand and pronounce one of them clearly enough to be understood deserve our admiration.

Argentinian wine producer Catena supplied a really wonderful Malbec to go with the steaks, along with a Chardonnay.  I seem to remember a Chilean Cabernet/Carmenere appearing from somewhere and then some port on the table with the cheese, although being a New World version it was called Starboard.

Special mention must go to the ladies that waited on our tables, they quickly got the measure of us all and were friendly and helpful and made it seem effortless - something it certainly wasn't - keeping the vast quantities of food and plates flowing in and out of the busy room, at the same time making sure we were all kept well-supplied with whatever we were drinking and maintaining a very sturdy sense of humour about the whole thing.

Tours of the kitchen and the meat ageing room were popular and they did well to have got all of us round there by the end of the night, the Josper grills used to cook the steaks are a sight to behold when they're in full flow, and the meat room is something to experience when the door opens and the fan inside blasts that smell out all over your face.

A hugely enjoyable and memorable night out in every way, many thanks of course go to Simon himself for arranging things but as he's the first to admit most of the credit for the evening's success deserves to go to the generosity and enthusiasm of Goodman and their suppliers and their determination to make the event something special for all of us lucky enough to be there.

search the #blokeseatbeef tag on Twitter for more pics, comments and blog posts about the evening.


  1. Wow that's a lot of red meat! The wines from Catena are excellent.

  2. yep, a lot of meat all round and most of the bones went home in doggy bags as well! I think I had a little too much of Catena's excellent wines because I left my bag of bones on the table. I can't remember which of their Malbecs it was that we had but it was really superb.

  3. Great write up - and, yes, I'm jealous. Looking forward to a burger at Goodman soon.

  4. I rather like your unusual images which crop up occasionally, like the mannequins in this, and the dinosaurs in Hackney!

  5. @Greedy Diva - happy to make you jealous! Nice to meet you at Goodman the other night, wish I'd taken my camera along for some shots of their burgers now

    @Douglas - thankyou, very kind of you to say so. Must admit I was rather pleased with myself at the dinosaur one.