Friday, 13 March 2009

Cattle Grid (Soho)

There you have it- extinct!

There are foodies and there are normal people. Now if you’ve stumbled upon this blog it’s more than likely that you’re a foodie or have inclinations to being one. Foodies can identify their Maldon Salt from the Saxa variety as well as whether a piece of steak (of half-decent provenance dare I say) has been hung long enough to justify its worth on a plate. Whereas the other ninety percent of normal peeps would almost conclude of their steak dinner with either ‘it was good’ or ‘it wasn’t too good’ regardless of the breed of the cow and the duration of the meat that’s been hung or not. Most qualified (and hardcore comes to mind) foodies would undoubtedly rip apart a restaurant that fails to satisfy their whims, failing that the eating place will be shot anyway because the food it serves, although good, is too within the budget of the common peeps.

Cattle Grid is a steak house that’s in the line of fire for ardent reviewers and food bloggers alike to blitz it to smithereens. The moos they serve don’t come from The Ginger Pig and none of their bigboy steaks cost more than two tenners. These two factors are enough to cause a blatant foregone conclusion among the foodies before they even settle down to chew on the meat; they’ve already decided the place is crap and not worthy of any merit whatsoever.

This new branch in Soho obviously came about because of the success of the original one in Sarf London (Balham) and a second one in Hooray Windsor. Cattle Grid was started by two chaps who became disillusioned with their original gastropub venture to focus instead on their now intended motto of ‘delivering great steaks at affordable prices’.

The dining room utilises a lot of wood and cowskin chairs (both mandatory musts for steakhouses) and lighting bright enough to confirm the colour of your cooked steak (I can’t stress this enough, the lighting at Sophie’s in Covent Garden is dark enough not to know what has been presented on your plate).

In addition to steaks, the menu is limited to burgers, pork ribs and an admirable selection of girlie salads. The lack of any starters can only suggest a good honest approach to what one knows best as opposed to uncertain pretensions. You decide what’s on the menu and therewith order and pay up at the counter. This and the Yank inspired menu are reminiscent of Bodean’s down the road except that’s where the similarities end. Service doesn’t really figure, the staff are not exactly waiting on you, they just bring your food and clear up when you vacate. Thank you and good bye, simple. As you would expect and heroic to say the least, no service charge!

Came here this evening with two normal persons and one who’s a self denying foodie. The two normal companions both went for burgers (I suspect the choices were borne out budget than vice versa). Both burgers with chips and trimmings came to under ten pounds each.

The Mature Cheddar Burger looked impressive enough, big and business like.

The Brie and Bacon take.

Thankfully both burgers were cooked medium despite the diners not being asked in the first place (tut-tut). The burgers were declared delicious, miles better than Bodean’s (not difficult) and GBK (that’s saying something), the buns were delicious as well as the chips (this I totally agree, I do love Maris Pipers).

Self denying foodie went for the ribs. Much to my annoyance he tackled the ribs with a knife and fork, this resulted in a lot of excess meat still clinging onto the bones. Wasteful. I can’t help but think of Sir Bob hollering at his daughters with ‘Think of Africa!’ or to that extent. I tried a bit of the pork, the marinade tasted pretty decent but the meat wasn’t tender enough, it didn’t fall off the bone like they’re meant to. Still beyond OK though. £7.00 for the ribs and chips.

My turn with the most expensive item on the menu; T-bone with a side of Haggis topping. The aroma that came with the steak was enough to elicit oohs and aahhs from the other three.

This 16oz (a smidge under ½ kilo) slab was cooked perfectly medium rare. The meat was suitably melt in mouth and expertly seasoned. No it’s nowhere as good as the Creekstone Ribeye I had at the Maze Grill but it did put the porterhouse fiasco at Sophie’s to shame. No piece of steak can ever be perfect, yes this T-bone had its fair share of gristle but for the price it would be callous of me to complain especially as I piggishly devoured the whole thing (save the T obviously). This piece of steak is contrived for the masses, and a good one that is too.

Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, that haggis topping tasted like what haggis ought to- intensely peppery (perfect for steaks) and ‘plucky’; the only minor quibble that it was dryish as opposed to moist.

Desserts were limited to Crème brûlée, some kind of cheesecake and wait for it, ice cream. We all decided to give this a miss and headed to Amato instead. This exercise just goes to prove that Cattle Grid has appealed to both my non-foodie pals and yours truly (bespoke junkfood extraordinaire), its aims are clearly justified and therefore admirable. If you don’t intend to come here for whatever reasons, that’s your prerogative, but I’m certainly coming back. Unashamedly recommended.

6 Poland Street
London W1F 8PS


Hollow Legs said...

you make us sound like a hideous bunch of snobs!

I've been wondering about this place. Shame about the ribs but the steak looks delicious.

bellaphon said...

Hi Lizzie, I'm sorry if I've offended you or any others for that matter. I'm never a yes-yes bloke but more of a heart on sleeve pain in the so and so type.

Cattle Grid is not the 'be all and end all' of steak joints, it's cheap and perfectly edible. I’m convinced they don’t resort to serving shrivelled pieces of OAP dairy cows on the plate. Fingers crossed with your visit.

Anonymous said...

Sounds alright to me! And your T-bone looked amazing...

Franz said...

Couldn't agree more, I thought it put the massively overpriced Gaucho's to shame. I had the T-bone as well - a very nice piece of meat. I ordered a blue cheese sauce which really wasn't necessary as the steak was so tasty on it's own. Went well with the chips though...
Service was basic but friendly, better than a lot of places that charge for it. I'm going again, soon.

bellaphon said...

Franz- Thanks for your comments, do let us know if you come across other decent steak joints.

Ben said...

Went here on Friday having seen it on your blog. Plumped for the T-bone. Never had one before and was slightly disappointed. I think because it was thinner it was a bit less rare than I'm used to (asked for it rare), and wished I'd got a smaller but thicker steak. It was however pretty good....I just love Hache though!

Also went to Santo in Notting Hill for Mexican. It was pretty well priced - apart from the beer - but
I think they are trying to make Mexican food fancier that it's meant to be (presented over artfully, with a gracing of tortilla chips). Still, the pork in my burrito was exquisite, and the homemade ice cream and crepes were class.

bellaphon said...

Ben- I'm beginning to suspect that the portions have been reduced, I believe the prices on the menu likewise.
Must give Santo a go. The strange thing is that I also reside in Notting Hill, but I detest the place. Thanks for the tip.

Ben said...

A warning that service there was a bit mixed.

The tortilla chips didn't arrive until the same time as the mains, and came with refried beans instead of black beans. Would have been better to give us them straight away whilst we were waiting (surely they get through enough to have them on standby?). Salsa and guacamole never arrived either (couldn't ascertain whether the girl said it came with).

Having said that they were very nice people.