Last night I attended the JW Steakhouse launch party at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane. The new kid on the block, JW Steakhouse is a serious competitor to the likes of Goodman and Hawksmoor who currently hold the crown and a dear place in my heart (and most London food bloggers') when it comes to steak and burgers.
The Marriott owned global chain of steakhouses are new to the UK but are firmly established in the USA, Canada, Dubai and Cairo. I was eager to see whether they would live up to the standard set by my London favourites.
The room is enormous, very high ceilings and huge windows adding to the feeling of space. It is easily double the size of both Goodman and Hawksmoor though both are opening new premises in the coming months, Goodman in the City and Hawksmoor in Covent Garden. The rear wall of the restaurant doubles as a menu, showing all cuts available and explains that the steak here is hand cut, dry-aged American USDA prime beef. Head chef Paul Hallet and his team were on hand to explain exactly what it was we were sampling.
We tried numerous cuts, all were perfectly cooked, I thought the fillet was the most successful, though all had a delightful char from the grill and were accompanied by multiple signature sauces and sides. There was excellent variety on offer, the bone in sirloin, slightly chewy I thought, and the ribeye, all regularly replenished. The pepper sauce was a hit, whole peppercorns providing a crunchy hit but others available included béarnaise, horseradish, port, red wine and stilton.
The sliders were excellent, both beef burgers and braised shortribs, like a pulled beef with pickles. Mini versions of the burgers that are available on both the lunch and dinner menus.
Canapes doing the rounds inclued calamari, served with a wonderfully rich aioli, maryland crab cakes, smoked salmon and steak tartare. There were an awesome array of sides which I was sad to see did not include mac and cheese, I feel you can tell a lot about a place by their mac and cheese.
As well as the freely flowing booze (champagne and bourbon cocktails) the highlight for me was the magnificent seafood bar in the centre of the room, with oysters and jumbo prawns, the usual oyster accompaniments and a hot sauce in which to dip the prawns, a welcome American favourite.
I found myself loitering around this area of the room for a little longer than I should have. Unable to resist the temptation of such fresh and tasty shellfish.
There was also a bewildering selection of salads, a corner of the room devoted to it, those on the menu include, JW chopped salad, classic caesar, goatscheese and beetroot and tomato and onion.
Onto dessert, which I barely had room for but again could not say no, the stand out option being Bettie's bread pudding. I'm not sure who she is but her lethal addition of bourbon to the mix coupled with the rich and melting vanilla bean ice cream is now my dream pud. Others on offer included the JW Cheesecake which uses Graham Crackers in the base and a tower of whoopie pies, which I remain unconvinced by.
I was hugely impressed by the effort of the evening, there was an abundance of everything and they certainly made a good impression. The steaks were, for me, on a par with the best I have sampled elsewhere in London. The sides were a revelation, they are hugely pimped up, the American's do this so well, double baked potatoes with bacon and onion, the Thanksgiving favourite sweet potato topped with marshmallow, green beans, asparagus, fries and thick cut chips, and new potatoes. I think I might just have to go back and try the mac and cheese. Price wise the menu matches Goodman, still seems that you need to pay above the odds prices to get a decent piece of meat.
Grosvernor House Hotel
86 Park Lane
I attended as a guest of JW Steakhouse and received complimentary food and drinks