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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Steak Heaven at May Fair Kitchen - a Return Visit

Name: May Fair Kitchen

Where: The May Fair Hotel, Stratton Street, Mayfair, London, W1J 8LT,  http://www.mayfairkitchen.co.uk/

Cost: Starters range from £7 to £16, main dishes from the grill range from £19 to £55, sides from £3 to £11.  There is a small but well considered selection of wines by the glass mostly priced at £11, and by the bottle white wines start at £34 for an Albariño from Rias Baixas, Spain, and reds at £34 for Napa Valley Merlot. 

About: The May Fair Kitchen is based on the ground floor of the swanky May Fair Hotel, on Stratton Street, between Piccadilly and Berkeley Square. The restaurant is simply but stylishly furnished with dark wood floors and panelling, grey fabrics and white linen tablecloths. 

The concept of the May Fair Kitchen is to serve the best quality meat and fish, simply grilled and served with a choice of sauces made to order. All the meat comes from Aldens Butchers, a family butcher with over 200 years of experience in sourcing the best quality produce from across the UK and Europe.  The fish and shellfish comes from James Knight of Mayfair. The vegetables all come from Watts farm, a family-run business with farms across Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire. A few months ago, I spent a couple of days behind the scenes at the May Fair Kitchen, as well as visiting Aldens and Watts farm to see the quality of the produce first hand - more about that here.

Having just heard of a change of menus at May Fair Kitchen, I decided to pay them a return visit to find out more.

What We Ate: We kicked off with half a dozen oysters (£18), served expertly shucked and cleaned (with none of the irritating fragments of shell that are so often left after opening - a minor pet hate of mine!), and with a classic red wine vinegar and shallot dressing. The oysters were terribly fresh, a very good start to our meal.

For starters, we had the steak tartare (£11) - hand chopped and served with a generous grating of Parmesan and a lovely beaten raw quail egg yolk served in the shell. It was very well seasoned, with a great texture from the hand chopping, and knowing it was from Aldens gave me confidence in its quality and safety.

Dr G had a serving of hand-dived scallops with smoked British ham and bean emulsion with fine herbs (£13).  This was well made and tasted great, but at that price tag, we had hoped for more than one and a half scallops.

My main course was grass-fed, 28-day aged, single rib steak, 20oz (£35), with a Bernaise sauce (£3), real chips (£3) and a Niçoise salad (£4.50).

These were magnificent, with superbly tender and well-flavoured beef from Aldens, this was as good as it gets!

The Bernaise was also well made and with just the right acidity. The triple fried chips were also excellent - chunky and crisp.

Dr G opted for the turbot (£38) with a sauce vierge (£3), samphire and ginger (£4.50). The fish was wonderfully textured, and the sauce vierge beautifully flavoured with chervil, but the side serving of watercress was completely undressed, un-seasoned and slightly on the yellow side of green.

For dessert we had a selection of cheeses from the cheese trolley (£12). The choices of cheeses were somewhat limited and a tad uninspiring.

This is such a pity as some restaurants' cheese trolleys in London have legendary status - think Chez Bruce. The cheese course, if offered, should be one of the most exciting courses of the entire meal.

Lovely grapes, but where is the cheese?

We also had the warm flourless clementine and chocolate cake (£8), served with Cornish clotted cream and winter brittle. We wanted to love this, but again, the dish did not quite deliver as a whole.

What We Drank: While we were deciding on our  menu, we enjoyed a glass of very well balanced Moet et Chandon 2006 (£15). We opted for a glass of Albarino (£11), with the fish dishes, with some lovely elderflower notes. For the meat dishes, we shared a bottle of La Serra Negre 2012, a carignan - garnacha blend from Herencia Altes, Spain (£50). A concentrated, purple-tinged wine with plenty of blackberry fruit and cedar notes, this lovely wine was balanced by plenty of tannin, and had great length and complexity.

Likes: The meats were superb - well sourced, richly flavoured and expertly cooked.

Dislikes: Service was friendly and attentive, but on the busy evening we were there, was a little forgetful at times - for example not offering bread or butter when we wanted it, then taking it away prematurely.

Verdict: May Fair Kitchen offers some of the best grilled steaks, fish and seafood in London. A perfect meal here starts with a platter of freshly shucked oysters, followed by the Iberian spiced chorizo and garlic tiger prawn skewers, finishing with their 20oz, grass-fed, 28-day aged, all singing, all dancing, single rib steak, heaven! Recommended.

1 comment:

  1. This spot seems to hold true to a traditional English tradition and at the same time very eloquently infusing a modern twist. I would love to plan a dinner out sometime here, even if it is just for the steaks. Thanks for the post Luiz.


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