The Meat Co. A giant amongst men. A name of legend. An establishment that needs no introduction (though I’ve kind of already given one). As an avid steak lover, it may shock and surprise you as much as it shocks, surprises, (and slightly disgusts) myself, that until this week, I had not yet visited what is without a doubt, one of London’s most popular premium steakhouses. With our third year of study drawing to a close, and Judas’ and Ulcer’s birthdays having gone by without food to celebrate, it was time for an end of year Bartans meal, and Meat Co won a unanimous group-vote as the venue of choice. It was time for my first Meat Co experience. My chance at redemption for neglecting one of the most established steakhouses in London for so very long.
Note: A full, separate halal menu is available upon request. Alcohol is served.
The Meat Co offers a number of quality cuts of steak, including rump, ribeye, strip and fillet, of varying sizes and from a variety of cattle breeds, with both dry-aged or wet-aged options. If that wasn’t enough, they also serve an assortment of burgers, lamb, chicken, fish and vegetarian based dishes, and a fantastic selection of desserts and drinks. The burgers and alternative dishes listed on the menu do an incredibly good job of trying to tempt you away from the principle steaks, but there was no way I was going to visit Meat Co and not get a damn good bite of a cow. (That same line of thought is also why I’m banned from visiting many of Britain’s farms). My order included a 300g/10oz 30-day dry-aged British ribeye steak, cooked to medium rare, with a garlic butter “sauce” and a side of steak chips.
The gleaming brown surface of the ribeye was nothing short of an impressive sight, and as I introduced it to my steak knife, its tender texture put up little to no resistance, revealing a strong and powerful band of pink that spanned its entire thickness. Juices oozed out of the moist and succulent steak, and in an instant, my palate forgave me for every overcooked and dry slab of meat that I had abused it with in the past. The surface of the ribeye was also coated in a mildly-flavoured basting, (presumably made up of vegetarian tears), and this did well to enhance its strong inherent flavours.
When eaten bare, the ribeye delivered a pleasantly mild tang from the juices within. The garlic sauce meanwhile, which was very light and soft in consistency, could be coated and melted onto the surface of the steak with ease. When done so, not only did it provide a smooth and buttery texture, but it also created a very rich and dense flavour that instantly took dominance. As for the accompanying steak chips, they were large, thick, and crispy, and served in a fairly generous portion. Our mains left every single one of us at the mark of belt-tightening satisfaction, but myself, Steak, and Judas decided to push ourselves from the point of “I’m full and satisfied”, to the end-point of “I’m full and satisfied and I also need an ambulance”.
The peanut butter cheesecake, consisted of a thick and firm biscuit base, a large body of rich peanut butter and cheese, and a thick, well-set layer of milk chocolate, topped with an assortment of fruits. The body of the cheesecake was beautifully thick, creamy and smooth in consistency, contrasting well with the firm, crumbly texture of the base, and the delicately sticky texture of the layer of chocolate. The cheesecake as a whole delivered a sweet combination of flavours which were rich enough to simultaneously soothe and smother the tastebuds, without becoming too overbearing. Meanwhile, the fruit pieces complemented the entire cheesecake well, providing bursts of sharp, palate-cleansing juices in between rich mouthfuls of peanut butter and chocolate.
By this point, I was extremely glad that I had worn braces instead of a belt. The extra flexibility around my waistline was an asset to holding me together without endangering the lives of those around me.
The only thing better than a birthday cake, is a birthday steak. With the end of yet another year of my life looming, Steak offered to treat me to a steak (is this getting confusing yet?), perhaps to dampen the blow as I hit the sombre, elderly age of 22. To begin with, I opted to try their cherry bomb mocktail, mainly because it was the most lethal-sounding option, and whenever my birthday comes around, I try my best to euthanise myself with food. The syrup within the cherry bomb was thick and strong, and initially, we found it to be slightly overbearing, due to a rather strong and pungent sweetness. However, in my old age, I had forgotten to stir it first, and after doing so, (and after a little dilution with melting ice), it was much better balanced, providing a rich, smooth sweetness with a pleasant essence of cherry.
Whilst my heart was set on a 300g/10oz Black Angus new york strip steak, our waiter informed us that they had unfortunately run out of Angus cuts, and so, I opted for a New York cut of British beef instead. Once again, my steak was extremely tender and moist within, cutting with ease to reveal a beautiful band of pink within – perhaps closer to rare than the medium-rare I had ordered, though I welcome either of the two. It delivered a plentiful amount of flavour owing to the basting, and a subtle tang from its inherent juices. Steak’s medium-cooked rump steak was also just as flavoursome, although part of the cut was thin, and thus, inevitably cooked to medium-well. Steak and I also opted to try the creamy garlic sauce, which was nothing short of fantastic. It was extremely thick in consistency, and with a smooth blend of strong garlic flavours, it was a great condiment for both the addictive chips, and the odd bite of steak.
Of course, the only thing better than having a birthday cake or a birthday steak, is having both, and so, we ordered a Malva pudding for dessert. The cake itself was hot and moist, with a porous texture that was irresistibly sticky and gooey within. It’s light and airy interior was filled with apricot jam and toffee sauce, creating a rich, smooth sweetness that was in no way overbearing – owing in part to the scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top. This thick, cool, high quality scoop contrasted well with the heat of the cake, and countered its richness to help create a wonderfully balanced dessert.
Value For Money: 4/5
For years, I’ve held a preconceived notion that the Meat Co is an exceedingly expensive restaurant in which to dine, and that may partly be the reason why, as a student, I had held off from visiting the restaurant, saving it as an excuse for a “special occasion” that never really arrived. Perhaps my perception of an “expensive meal” has shifted somewhat as a result of having eaten out so much over the last few years, but upon actual examination of the menu (and having actually dined there now), a meal at Meat Co doesn’t necessarily seem particularly expensive in relation to what you receive. Most starters range from £5-£12, whilst sides range from £3-£5. Burgers and alternative main dishes range from £12-£30, whilst most desserts hover around the £7-£8 mark. The steaks themselves can range from a humble £18 for a humble 7oz rump steak, right through the £20-£40 range for larger, mid-range cuts (such as ribeye or strip), and onto the £50-£60 range for high-end fillet cuts. There are also a selection of even higher-end steaks, (i.e wagyu steaks) that sit within the £80-£100 range. My 300g/10oz ribeye, with accompanying fries, amounted to a reasonable £34.00, whilst the accompanying sauce came in at a rather steep additional £2.95, and the cheesecake at £8.00.
Whilst these prices may seem fairly high, it’s worth considering the fact that Meat Co is a premium steakhouse in West London, and in relation to the dining experience and the high quality of the food, (and in particular, the high quality of the steaks), the prices are actually rather reasonable. Sure, you can find large, cheap cuts of steak for £15-£20 elsewhere, but they are and only ever will be, cheap cuts of steak, which come not an inch near the same calibre of quality. Whilst you may find yourself paying a little more than usual for your meal, the extra pounds are more worth it than a L’oreal shampoo, and you can enjoy a cheaper, smaller, one or two-course meal from the menu, and still be heartily satisfied.
The staff at Meat Co try to look after you right from the moment you make a booking, ensuring that any requirements you may have are met. Our waiter was quite friendly and certainly gets extra points for photobombing us at the end of our meal. However, for a high-end restaurant, I felt that a little more personal attention and interaction, and a little more attentiveness from the staff would have gone a long way towards enhancing the experience further. Aside from this moot point, the service here is effective and efficient.
The Meat Co, as a company and brand, originated in South Africa, and it’s South African roots are reflected in the fantastic modern decor of it’s flagship London branch. Animal-skin tapestries line the walls and chairs of the ground floor waiting area, (presumably to repel any vegetarians), and South African ornaments can be found throughout the restaurant. The first floor dining area is large and spacious, with high ceilings, sand-coloured brick walls, and comfortable leather seats, and the open space certainly adds a dash of grandeur. (It’s also helpful for when you need to be rolled out of the restaurant at the end). Perhaps the only question mark with the restaurant itself is the unisex bathroom (I find all unisex bathrooms extremely odd), encased within vertical glass windows that allow you to just about see into the basin area. It does however, create some entertainment when unaware diners start taking bathroom selfies. The restaurant itself is but a mere two minute walk from Shepherds Bush station. Parking is available in the nearby Westfield car park, albeit at a steep price no doubt.
The ambience at Meat Co is wonderfully peaceful and relaxed, making it incredibly easy to enjoy your own private space with your dining companions, away from the conversations of other patrons. There’s no sense of rush nor urgency (though that could be different on a busier evening), and you can comfortably enjoy each course of your meal until your abdomen moos and explodes with beef like a bovine remake of “Alien”.
With a wonderfully laid-back atmosphere, a well-crafted restaurant and exceptional cuts of steak that bring nothing but pure satisfaction, it would be a crime not to visit The Meat Co. A crime for which, I am hopefully now forgiven. On numerous occasions throughout my restaurant-hunting life, I have said that good halal steak is extremely difficult to find – something that must be searched for with patience and persistence. Funnily enough, like my barber searching for hope and prosperity in my hairline, it turns out that I was simply searching in the wrong place. Flaws are present, and will undoubtedly remain present, but The Meat Co does well to set a strong precedent for what a good, quality steakhouse should be.
Originally Published: 25/07/15
The Meat Co
Address: Unit 1026, Westfield London Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, London W12 7GA
Telephone: 0208 749 5914