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Tuesday 5 November 2013

London Restaurant Reviews - JW Steakhouse

Where: The Grosvenor House Hotel, 86 Park Lane, London W1K 7TN. www.jwsteakhouse.co.uk 

Cost: £75 per person plus service for the #steaksecret menu. From the standard dinner menu, starters range from £8 to £27, main courses from £16 to £44 (for the Tomahawk rib eye steak), and desserts from £7 to £12 (for the fabulous cheesecake).

About: JW Steakhouse opened in 2010 at the Grosvenor House Hotel, and features American USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) certified beef from Creekstone, as well as Aberdeen Angus from Macken Brothers of Chiswick. The menu, not surprisingly, is focussed on steak.  On the evening we attended, we sampled the new 'steaksecret' menu, which was released in October 2013. The restaurant is situated on the ground floor of the hotel, which opened in 1929, and after extensive renovation was opened as a JW Marriott hotel in 2008.

What We Ate: We tried the #steaksecret menu in one of the restaurant's private rooms. We kicked off with a warm pumpkin tart with smoked bone marrow and served with crispy dried-smoked beef. I quite enjoyed the wonderfully rich autumnal flavours in this starter.

Next we had a tempting trio of delicacies: the steak tartar is a great favourite of mine, and JW’s version had superbly aged fresh beef, well seasoned and was served with a soft egg on top. Alongside, there was a single oyster Rockefeller (in tempura batter, served in the shell on a bed of green herbs). The third morsel was a dainty Maryland crab cake with tartar sauce.

For  the main course, the #steaksecret menu offers a beef tasting plate. Head Chef Julian Ward came to show us the range of marbled steaks on offer, before disappearing into the kitchen to rustle up a Highland Wagyu fillet steak served “Oscar style” (with crab, asparagus and bearnaise sauce). 

Alongside, we were served a mini Tomahawk steak.  I haven’t come across the Tomahawk steak before, but it is a bone-in, 2 inch thick rib steak with the entire rib left intact, and resembles the native American-Indian axe. The rib is trimmed of meat and fat, giving a beautiful presentation, and the meat benefits from the great flavour of the marrow within the bone. To complete the trio of steaks, we had a slow-braised short rib, which was unctuously tender and full of flavour.

As accompaniments for our steak, we had creamed spinach, the most wonderful lobster mac ‘n cheese with chunky and meaty pieces of lobster tail, crispy onion rings and fat hand-cut chips.

Still dreaming of Lobster Mac & Cheese….
All accompaniments were outstanding and portions were very generous, American-style!

I’m becoming quite a fan of ‘pre-desserts’ as a palate cleanser, and the Bourbon Granita  at #steaksecret was a very good example, simultaneously refreshing and decadent. 

We had a classic American dessert - a selection of doughnuts – Key Lime, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Bourbon jelly. The Key Lime doughnuts reminded me of my stay in the Florida Keys a few years ago and all the Key Lime Pies I enjoyed there, they were delicious.

What We Drank: Entrance to the #steaksecret diners is via an unused side door of the hotel where a barman awaits with a table filled with some great cocktails.

As an American steakhouse, the wine list has a strong American slant. We had a great selection of American wines from Napa and Sonoma Valleys in California of course, but also some interesting options from further afield.  I enjoyed the Stag’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (£63) with the crab cakes, and with my steak the Chimney Rock Tomahawk Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, both from Napa Valley.

Best of all though was the Red Tail Ridge Pinot Noir, 2006, from Finger Lakes, New York State.  This had classic Pinot elegance, with gentle redcurrant fruit. Both these reds were fine wines especially for the #steaksecret menu, and are not listed on the menu. Both cost in excess of £100 per bottle.

Likes: I really enjoyed this meal, and thought the menu was generous and hearty, with top quality ingredients showing through including very fine American beef. The wine list was impressive, although with matching prices. The lobster mac and cheese was a highlight.

Dislikes: Despite its lovely location, the restaurant deco felt rather like a Harvesters pub.

Verdict: For an all American evening of great food, including prime beef steak, lobster mac and cheese, Maryland crab, doughnuts and cheesecake, there are few better places to visit in London. Highly recommended.

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