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Tuesday, 27 May 2014

JW Steakhouse Revisited (And It is Still a Treat)!

Where: The Grosvenor House Hotel, 86 Park Lane, London W1K 7TN

Cost: An average of £75 per person plus service. 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 £14 (for the fabulous cheesecake).

About: Having visited JW Steakhouse in October 2013 (reviewed here) and thoroughly enjoyed my meal there, I looked forward to returning a couple of weeks ago to try their new seasonal menu.

JW Steakhouse opened in 2010 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair's Park Lane, and is one of the few restaurants of its kind in London featuring grain-fed American USDA certified beef from Creekstone, as well as grass-fed Aberdeen Angus from Macken Brothers of Chiswick.

The menu, not surprisingly, is focussed on steak. 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.

Despite its fancy location on Park Lane, the restaurant has a rather casual and laid-back feel about it akin to an American Steakhouse. It is frequented by hotel guests and Londoners alike and on the night we were there, the place was full.

The restaurant has one of those super-duper Montague Legend Radiant Grills that sears meat at 650°C, giving a perfect and even seal and juicy steaks with fantastic flavour.

What We Ate: I rarely mention a restaurant’s bread basket in my restaurant reviews but I could not let the JW Steakhouse’s Parker House Rolls go unreported. These feather-light, buttery rolls with a crispy shell and crusted with sea-salt were utterly delicious. They date back to the 1870s when they were invented at the Parker House Hotel in Boston, where they are still being served.

Knowing that we would be having a very meaty dinner, we opted for the Seafood Platter for 2 (£28) to get things going. With a selection of rock oysters, jumbo shrimp and lump crab, this was a delicious and refreshing starter, accompanied by a delicately sweet Mary Rose sauce made from tomato chutney and mayonnaise.

For the main course, we decided to compare grain-fed American versus grass-fed British beef. We chose the American USDA Porterhouse Steak (£59 for 800g – a serving for 2) that came with a very well-made Béarnaise sauce. The steak was excellent, thick but tender, well-marbled and richly flavoured, the meat was cooked rare just as requested. This was a fantastic steak.

We ordered the British Rib-eye (£32 for 400g) with an optional topping of Oscar lump crab, asparagus and Béarnaise (£8 extra). This was again very good and beautifully cooked, but in my opinion, it lacked the richness and intense savoury qualities of its American cousin. We would have been completely happy with the British Rib-eye had we not just tried the USDA Porterhouse though.

The magnificent lobster mac ‘n cheese which we had at our last meal at JW Steakhouse (and probably one of the reasons for our return visit) was unfortunately not available on the night. Instead, we shared a Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese (£6). The texture was just right - neither watery, nor too dry, and with plenty of nutmeg.  The only pity was that, for my palate, the cheese used to make the sauce could have been a bit more robust.

We also had the Iceberg Wedge with Blue Cheese and Crispy Bacon (£9). This was delicious, with salty blue cheese & bacon contrasting so well with the refreshing lettuce.

With our steaks, chips were just too tempting to miss. So we ordered a portion of Fries with Truffled Salt (£5). These were excellent and crispy although the flavour of truffle was not totally obvious to me.

For dessert, there was no doubt in our minds but to go for the restaurant’s signature Cheesecake (£14). Described in their menu as “the best cheesecake this side of the pond”, this is indeed no exaggeration. This heavenly creation is a must-have I remembered from my previous visit. It is magnificently creamy and rich, but also light due to the use of soured cream that gives it a refreshing acidity. The cheesecake is for 2 people although it is far too much to eat in one sitting. The staff are well used to that and have specially designed carriers for diners to take the cheesecake home safely to enjoy for breakfast.

What We Drank: We shared a bottle of Paul Jaboulet Crozes Hermitage Les Jalets 2010 (£38).  This was a very good match for the beef, with powerful blackberry fruit flavours and plenty of tannin. Given that it is available from The Wine Society for £15, a mark-up of only just over 2 fold for a Park Lane hotel seemed very good value. The entry-level red wine is £34.

Likes: Excellent quality USDA and British beef, expertly cooked. The most delicious cheesecake I can remember. Great wine selection, with a very reasonable mark-up.

Dislikes: Having a TV constantly showing sporting fixtures was the only downer. Prices are on the steep side.

Verdict: Top notch steaks, a fantastic wine selection and excellent service make JWS one of the best steakhouses in London. A perfect meal for me here would be their USDA Porterhouse steak, the lobster mac 'n cheese, followed by the signature cheesecake - all unmissable. Very highly recommended.

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