It was with much anticipation that RollOnFriday journeyed over to the JW Steakhouse at the Grosvenor Hotel last week - an enormous cavern of a place (actually more of a cathedral) full of diners bowing at the altar of steak, chips and red wine.
Before tucking in to an enormous repast, here's a special tip. Go on a Thursday. A Champagne Thursday. Every Thursday from now until Christmas the champers is on ice - and on special offer.
Pop along next week, and you can get a bottle of Krug 1996 for £158. Obviously, that sounds like a lot of money to spend on a bottle of alcoholic pop. But, trust us on this, it's a good chunk cheaper than normal. Still, if you're feeling a bit more impoverished, you can always get a bottle of Veuve Clicquot for a bargain-basement £32. Either way, it's a great way to engage the appetite and get your stomach prepared for a meaty onslaught.
My companion and I tucked in heartily to our bottle (which could have done with being accompanied by some nibbles), watching the early-evening Thursday revellers beginning their night out in London's fashionable West End™. The atmosphere is nicely muted, all low-volume murmurings, mood lighting and soft furnishings. Annoying diners that we are, we decided to move table for our meal - which was accepted with typical good grace and charm from the excellent staff.
And so to dinner. I went for a lump crab cake, my date had the JW Iceberg Wedge with yet more crab. Both were excellent, light and fresh and flavoursome. The side-salad could have done with a bit more care - the tomato was freezing cold (and thus largely flavourless) - but still, a great way to start, especially with the freshly-cooked bread, which was deliciously doughy.
And then - what else - but steak all round. I went for a 14oz ribeye, my companion the fillet. Both cooked perfectly to order on what I imagine was the world's hottest and most impressive BBQ grill (I'm told it cooks at 650 degrees to ensure your steak is bang on the order). Charred and caramalised on the outside, bloody and tender in the middle. As good a steak as my fellow diner has ever had, came the verdict - and that from someone who grew up in the US and backs herself on the steak front. Sides were huge and plentiful and the sauces, ranging from a classic bernaise to horseradish (the obvious winner) tangy and well-made. To finish, an incredibly indulgent bread pudding, drenched in a bourbon sauce. All washed down with the superb house red - a fantastic 2005 Chateau Lyonnat St Emilion (of which I've got a crate in for Christmas).
Service was impecable, performed with a tastefully light touch. Our waiter was knowledgable and gave the right answer when asked if he preferred the USDA meat or Aberdeen Angus (for those of you who don't know, the Angus is far better, grass-fed gamey meat, far superior to the flabby state-side stuff). These things matter to your dedicated carniviore.
On the downside, the air-con was a bit cold - and the plates (and containers of sides) were chilly too (which is pretty unforgivable for a top restaurant). Luckily the food was great - so we scoffed it pretty rapidly. And the rumblings from whatever it is that happens underneath the Grosvenor were - just occasionally - a bit off-putting (was it the Tube, or some sort of club?).
But all in all, if you're in the market for a red meat blowout, and happen to find yourself on Park Lane, pop along. If it's a Thursday night - then you'd be crazy not to. It's Christmas come early.