Boisdale of Bishopsgate have launched the Tomahawk Steak, bringing a taste of the wild Native America to London. Weighing in at 30oz, this mighty steak is definitely one to share and thanks to its rare appearance on any UK menu, it is definitely an experience to relish.
So getting an invite to sample dinner at Boisdale of Bishopsgate, I jumped at the chance, grabbed a date and headed off. Just outside Liverpool St Station, down a narrow alley, you come to Boisdale of Bishopsgate. Once in through the almost secretive entrance, you are welcomed by a friendly reception area, taking coats, and showing you through to the upstairs bar or downstairs to the restaurant.
The whole place is decorated in the coordinated Boisdale colours of red and tartan, but it looks natural and inviting, in a traditional yet modern style.
After a few drinks at the upstairs bar, full of Friday night post-work drinkers talking noisily about their weeks exploits and the plans for the weekend, I moved downstairs for dinner.
The downstairs restaurant is large, spread over four areas, each with its own space and privacy. We were shown to an open area, with a few well-spaced tables. It wasn’t busy or crowded like the upstairs bar, but there was a regular flow of customers.
Warmly greeted by the head waiter, we were shown to our table. A quick order of two glasses of champagne, a friendly waitress offering freshly made bread slices, and we were ready to look through the menu and wine list at our leisure.
Now I knew what I was having – the Tomahawk, but at 30oz it really was to share; not on this occasion. My date decided she was in a ‘fishy mood’ and so needed to try the fish. Not that I was complaining, but that’s a lot of meat for one wine writer to eat.
She decided on the fish of the day – Halibut for her main, and a plate of Duchy of Cornwall native oysters to start with. I decided on the Devonshire Crab Cocktail, anticipating its lightness to be a fine match before the steak. Rather than choosing a white wine to match these two starters I chose the easy option, and had another round of champagne. It is so easy to forget how well champagne goes with shellfish, giving you an expansive yet refreshingly light taste between mouthfuls.
The starters arrived, and were predictably good, the oysters fresh with just the right amount of sauce.
The crab was a bit more interesting as it was white claw meat with devilled brown crab meat on a bed of avocado and wild garlic mayonnaise. The brown crab meat really acted as a tasty paste binding the white meat together and the overall effect was more of a pate than a typical crab cocktail. No complaints, just pleasantly unusual.
The steak was brought to the table to be ‘introduced’ to me, before being cooked. It really is as big as it looks in the picture.
This prime cut is taken from the rib of the beef which is considered to be the most premium of cuts and takes its name from the Tomahawk Axe which was used as a general purpose tool and weapon in Native America, the shape of which the steak is said to resemble.
Sourced from a rare breed herd made up of Long, Short Horn and Dexter cattle from Mount Grace Farm in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, this beef is most certainly the best of British, even if the cut is American.
The steak would required something special to go with it as a wine, so I ordered a bottle of the Lebanese Bekaa Valley Massaya 2007. Lebanese wines are very much underated in the UK, but have a lot to offer and work with a good range of foods and flavours. Just in case a white was prefferred with the Halibut, I chose a Montmains Chablis 2009 Premier Cru. Slightly more rounded than their Chardonnay, this would work with the heavier fish flavour.
When ready, the Tomahawk is brought to your table and cut in front of you.
The steak really does looks massive, and doesn’t reduce in size with cooking. It has to be medium rare; I’m not sure what the chef would do if you asked for it any other way. Delivered to you on a wooden platter, it is hand cut in front of you, the meat carved into 1inch thick slices and served on a plate to you, the bone left on one side for you to decide what to do with it later. It comes with duck fat chips, roasted bone marrow, beer braised onions & salsa dragoncello so you don’t need to add anything else when you order.
The Tomahawk is not only visually impressive but also very impressive in texture and flavour too.
The meat is supplied by butcher, James George from the East London Steak Company who has aged it specifically for Boisdale for a full 45 days in his hand crafted aging room, complete with Himalayan salt lining. The result is a mature and deep flavoured taste unlike any other, firmly securing The Tomahawk position as an icon amongst its counterparts.
The meat cuts easily, made all the easier by the customer Boisdale Sabatier knives… now that is real class and understanding for diners.
How about my dates main? The halibut was served with crispy bacon topped and beans along with round of sweet stuffed gnocchi. It was well presented but dwarfed by the size of my steak on the table. I think deep down she wished she had shared the Tomahawk with me.
After the main, and a suitable resting time, I fancied something a bit sweet to end the meal, so for dessert I ordered the sticky toffee pudding. It arrived as a neat ball of ice cream on top of a small ball of pudding; a real relief from the typical huge bowl of stodge many serve in its name. But the small size, whilst suiting the room left after such a huge main, was absolutely full of flavor and sweet pleasure. Clearly size does not matter in this case and the pleasure was all in each mouthful, filing you with flavours and rather than stuffing. It has to be the best I have had this year.
My date, finding enough room for one last dish, chose the Raspberry Cranachan with honey, roasted oats, cream and raspberries, flavoured with Glenfiddich 15yr whiskey. It arrived in a blaze of colour, and was consumed without sharing, although there were a few words on how I would have really enjoyed it.
To round the evening off I chose a new Swiss dessert wine, Vin de Fraise from Cristallo, and my date went for the more traditional Glenrothes 25yr Whiskey.
The whole atmosphere, service, food and even the other diners made dinner at Boisdale of Bishopsgate a very pleasurable experience. The Tomahawk steak makes it even more memorable, and something I, and I am sure others that try it, will rave about for a long time.
Boisdale of Bishopsgate
020 7283 1763