Westfield added a touch of magic to a once grotty corner of Shepherd’s Bush and the transformation has brought with it a host of designer shops, food outlets and cash-laden shoppers. A dangerously close bus ride away from my home Mr and Me are here to visit The Meat Co which takes up an impressive space on the Southern Terrace, a busy thoroughfare where the choice of food takes you from one culinary end of the world to another.
South Africa is where you land when you take a seat in this restaurant set on two levels, the ground floor with its split open terrace and inside, the ‘Puza Bar’ serving bar food and cocktails.
Upstairs, there’s seating for a whopping 260 including banquettes for two, and tables for various group sizes along with a feature table (directly in front of the glass panelled open kitchen) framed by empty wine bottles, a nod to the comprehensive wine list from the economical to the wallet crushing.
The main restaurant has many reminders of South Africa, the flash of reds and orange aspects on walls and lamp shades, a framed picture of Madiba, a wooden frieze covering and a giraffe-print covered lift interior. Even the soundtrack to our meal consisted of lively South African beats.
As the restaurant name suggests, the menu is a carnivore’s idea of heaven, and a vegetarian’s nightmare (just one vegetarian special and the usual salmon fillet offering and ‘pasta of the day’) and a separate Halal menu for Muslim diners. We’d visited The Meat Co before and knew what to expect but this time I was invited for a booked review and everyone had been briefed. Like all reviews like this, I do worry that the attention focused on me is unique. As ever, I keep a very close eye on service and how other tables are treated and on this visit, it really was no different.
When you arrive at The Meat Co, the ground floor booking receptionist tells the upstairs floor that you’ve arrived. As soon as you climb the dramatic staircase you’re taken to your table. Menus for drink and food follow and the waiter takes your order. Ours was Bon, he tells me it’s French for “good” but that he doesn’t speak French as he’s from South Africa. A jolly chap who knows the menu as well as the back of his hand.
I began with a Tanqueray gin and tonic (£8.80), although disappointed that the tonic had lost it’s bubbles somewhere along the way. Mr had a ginger beer (£2.10). The waiter who brought them to the table asked if we were having a nice evening, and then said he hoped it continued. Charming. If you’re a fan of service, great service, and get upset when the service charge is automatically added and it’s not really been earned, then you’ll be pleased to read that the waiters and waitresses are worth every extra penny. We chose a small glass of red each, me the Goyenechea Malbec (£5.10) and Mr the Footprint Merlot Pinotage (£4.10).
Breads made here on the premises range from chocolate and beetroot (£3.25) to cheesy garlic (£4.75) or if you’re feeling particularly hungry grab the mixed platter (£13.00). The starters include soup of the day (£5.75) Greek or caesar salads (£5.50) beef ribs (£11.50), roasted bone marrow (£10.00), chicken wings (£8.75) or the entrée tasting plate (£31.00). We had trouble choosing between the Peri Peri prawns (£10.25), the Boerewors served on a bed of maize (£9.00) (The Meat Co have kindly shared their recipe with me and it’s here) or the squid. The latter won out and the salt and pepper calamari, was moist with a crispy coating, the squid was thick and not in the least rubbery, served with Nam Jim sauce, a home-made sweet and sour dipping sauce. Two pieces each probably wasn’t a good enough portion to share, but enough to taste (£8).
I fancied a bowl of green salad leaves but there isn’t one on offer, so I ordered the Greek Salad, a little heavy on the green herb dressing and had a crumbling of feta and not cubed but was pleasant enough.
On a previous visit we ate the onion rings (£2.50) some of the best I’ve tasted, thin, perfectly coated and delicious. Other sides include seasonal vegetables (£4.75), creamed spinach (£4.25), chips (£2.75), green beans and tomatoes (£4.75), steamed Basmati rice (£2.25), biltong (£4.25), grilled asparagus (£4.25), mashed potato (£2.75), garlic mushrooms (£4.75) and Droëwors (£4.50) an African beef spiced sausage. For mains, the menu is divided into sections which include Connoisseurs Choice, Super-Aged Meat, Burgers, Poultry, Seafood, Hanging Skewers and Specialities. On the subject of speciality, The Meat Co baste their meat in a secret recipe South African Steak Sauce. I chose not to have this painted on my steak whilst Mr did for purposes of the review.
In the super-aged meat group you can choose from British 30-day dry aged cuts (air drying concentrates the flavour and tenderises the meat, or the slightly more costly North American Black Angus, wet-aged for 35 days (vacuum sealing takes less time and avoids weight loss). There’s Chateaubriand (£19.00/kilo), Bone Marrow Fillet (200g/£45.00 or 300g/56.00) and Kangaroo (£25.00) on offer and dependent on the meat you choose and size you can expect to pay between £38-£58 for a fillet; £33-£46 for a Rib Eye and £25-£40 for a New Yorker (strip steak or short loin). There are four burgers on offer and dependent on how hungry you are they all weigh in at 225g. For the positively starving you can upscale to 450g and these include a chicken option and a Rib Meat Burger (£19.00). Top that for (£2.00) with Mushroom, Blue Cheese (£2.50), Bacon or Pineapple. Like any steak house there are sauces (£2.25) on offer and The Meat Co’s are all homemade and include a blue cheese and vodka offering, along with the more traditional green peppercorn. Four hanging skewers are spiked with a variety of beef, chicken and fish and are flame grilled and served vertically. These start at £19.00 and run to £28.00 for the prawn and beef.
Specialities include ribs – both pork and beef – and lamb shank. There are so many options for the meat-lover here at The Meat co it takes a good ten minutes to read the menu, ensuring you don’t miss out. When the food for other tables passes, it’s hard not to reveal your food envy.
We finally decide on steak and our waiter Bon had a lovely smile which distracted from his nifty up-selling technique, Mr asked for the British fillet 200g but was swayed by Bon’s recommendations and opted for the US steak in spite of the extra £4.00 (£42.00). Bon rattled through the side dishes as if we’d missed something. No bad thing, just a sign of brilliant marketing and excellent training. Luckily for Bon he kept his smile – Mr was pretty impressed with the results of his swap.
My fillet foie gras (200g) was served with a gargantuan-sized piece of liver, in fact it draped over my fillet and I thought was excellent value at £50. I had chips, which tasted of real potato (for a change), but there’s an offer of mash too. I’d go back for the chips alone, although I hate those ridiculous mini-frier baskets they’re served in – the less my chips are handled the better. It was cooked as I asked medium rare and was perfect.
Mr’s steak was cooked medium rare and he chose to add lobster tail as an extra (£20). There are also prawns on offer if you fancy a surf-n-turf. He felt the special sauce didn’t add anything to a perfect cut of meat. He opted for the mashed potato and he said it was pretty good, smooth, creamy and well-seasoned.
We were guests of The Meat Co.
The Meat Co, Westfield London Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, London W12 7GA 020 8749 5914