Published on August 24th, 2015 | by Clarissa Waldron0
The Meat Co, Shepherd’s Bush
Summary: The Nelson Mandela Charity-supported steakhouse is patriotic with good surprises but doesn’t fully utilize its culinary potential
Passing by the Meat Co. outside Westfield’s Shepherd’s Bush you could be forgiven for thinking it was a suave gastro bar, in fact, unless you throw your eyes to heaven you might just miss out on the delights that are really on offer here.
The Meat Co, an African steakhouse restaurant, is what you might call hidden in plain sight. While it operates a fantastic looking bar and outdoor seating area on ground level, its upstairs is where the real indulgence takes place. This Shepherd’s Bush location prides itself on being the only British faction of the popular South African Meat Company which has branches as far away as Abu Dhabi, and while I was expecting a quasi Shaka Zulu it must be said that it’s not at all correct to compare the two. The décor here, while warm and inviting, is much more toned down, and sophisticated. While the aforementioned is staunchly South African in design, experience and menu inspiration, The Meat Co merely hails from the Rainbow Nation, rather than trying to bring the tastes and flavours of it to the UK.
Perusing the menu, it’s clear to see that we are in an African Steakhouse, rather than an African-steak house. The menu was not as diverse or as elaborate as I had presumed which is no strong fault, but rather an unwarranted expectation. Yep, no crocodile, springbok, gazelle or buffalo here folks. There are underlying gems and delights however – a must try is the chocolate and beetroot bread – which looks very similar to a Rooster potato and was so good we even took the remainder home.
For drinks we had considered going down the wine route but after The Jungle Bear was heralded a must try it was something we couldn’t refuse. Be warned it is very sweet – not the fruity type, but the artificial type, due to the presence of sherbet. The Safari Gentleman was a true gent – delectably smooth and indulgent with a real powerful kick thanks to the rum. The best of both world’s indeed.
Our starters arrived quickly after the drinks: Boerewors and Braised Rib Meat Cigars with balsamic vinegar. The Boerewors were all you could want from the traditional African sausage, perfectly cooked and bursting with flavour accompanied by a delicious tomato based sauce and paired rather unconventionally with polenta which was sadly uninspiring.
For such a delicate dish, The Meat Cigar pastry was filled with chunkier pieces of meat than I had expected. I had envisioned mince-meat to allow the cigars to retain more of their shape and structure. Once cut into they fell apart into a sorry crumbly mess. Aside from this the accompanying balsamic sauce was perfectly tangy and a great pairing.
To make up for a lack of je ne sais quoi on the menu, I went for the most exotic thing I could find – Kangaroo.
I tend to like my meat on the more cooked side, as I find pink meat is chewier and less enjoyable to eat. The waiter advised that with kangaroo, the more cooked it is the chewier it becomes, so I relented in my approach and chose to have it cooked rarer. My guest went for the Rib Eye steak, medium rare, contrary to the waiter’s recommendation of medium.
The Kangaroo came with potato gratin and cranberry jus, while the steak was joined by hand cut chips. The list of sides weren’t too adventurous so we went with the waiter’s recommendation of Chili and Garlic Broccolini and Garlic Button Mushrooms.
As the only star meat on the menu the kangaroo had a lot to make up for but I was thoroughly impressed. A kangaroo novice, I was surprised by how rich and juicy the meat was, though also surprised at how chewy it remained despite being cooked as advised. Its accompanying potato gratin was a smaller insignificant sidekick, perfectly edible and satisfactory but not overshadowing the delightful star attraction. The jus was plentiful and an excellent accompaniment adding an irresistible sweetness to the dish overall.
My guest’s rib-eye and chips were greatly appreciated and it was refreshing to see actual hand-cut chips rather than meek strips of potato which are often commonplace in so-called steakhouses.
And so came the hardest part of the night. Loosening our belts we asked “To dessert or not to dessert”? Well, with the table next to us indulging in the platter selection of desserts we just couldn’t let them show us up.
Arriving quicker than the 15 minutes it supposedly takes to prepare, the platter offered The Meat Co. star dessert of Malva Pudding, Nelson Mandela’s favourite (ours too!). The selection also includes Tiramisu, Coconut and Raspberry Vacharin ( a close second), Dark Chocolate Fondant, Passion Fruit Sorbet and a Brownie Sundae. As often is the case, dessert was a joy and portions were exactly the right size to allow a decent sample of everything after a hefty steak indulgence.
An impressive way to round off an impressive meal in impressive surroundings. Situated right outside the shopping centre, the restaurant is a great place to bring family, meet friends or begin a date night. Bravo the Meat Co.
The Meat Co, Westfield Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, W12 7GAShare This Post