Food fads may come and go, but you just can?t beat a good steak dinner, writes Colette Doyle. Already hugely popular in its native South Africa and across much of the Middle East, the Meat Co chain?s first foray in the UK is located at that paean to consumerism, behemoth shopping mall Westfield London.
Inside, the restaurant is decked out in sophisticated honey and crimson hues that lend the venue a rich, alluring vibe. We kick off the proceedings with a peach Bellini and one of the happy hour cocktails, a Passion Blast that mixes vodka with Passoa liqueur and passion fruit syrup (happy hour runs daily from 5pm until 9pm) ? the perfect way to get your juices flowing for the feast that is to follow.
It seems that just about every kind of meat known to man is on the menu; exotic kangaroo and South African Boerewors sausage are joined by chicken, lamb, pork and beef. Seafood lovers are not forgotten either, with prawns, scallops and lobster all on offer.
Given the carnivorous nature of the mains, my companion and I decided it?s wise to opt for meat-free starters, so order succulently spicy peri-peri prawns and a well-judged portion of tasty Caesar salad. For the main event it goes without saying that it has to be steak, but deciding which one from the comprehensive selection available is no easy matter, so we turn to our highly knowledgeable server.
He painstakingly explains the difference between dry and wet aged beef and advises my plus-one to go for the Wagyu, whose reputation precedes it; meanwhile, I only have eyes for the fillet, which I top with some foie gras that turns out to be so divine I steadfastly refuse to share.
The meat, as you would expect, is cooked to perfection, aided by a handy little guide that runs the gamut from rare to well done. The accompanying B?arnaise sauce is deliciously creamy and while my side order of garlic mushrooms may sound like a throwback to a Berni Inn circa 1970, it proves to be a sound choice.
For dessert, we opt for Malva pudding, a substantial sponge and apricot jam concoction that is a nod to the group?s origins as it was the favourite of iconic South African leader Nelson Mandela; moreish as it is, we struggle to finish it given all that has gone before. This is served with renowned Hungarian dessert wine Tokaji, which rounds off the meal on a high note.
With its extensive menu, salubrious surroundings and well-informed staff, the Meat Co offers the kind of classic dining experience that never goes out of style.
The Meat Co, Unit 1026, Westfield London Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, London W12 7GA; 020 8749 5914; themeatco.com/westfield-london