Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > U.K./Ireland >
Sep 20, 2006 10:04 PM

The Great Steak Debate

The quality of steak available in London has certainly improved tremendously in recent years. I enjoy the Gaucho, Hawksmoor, Popes Eye, Anglesey Arms etc.

Nowhere in London however, can I find steaks of the quality I have experienced in the US particularly in NYC and Chicago. Nowhere can you find a steak with that almost caramel 'crust'.

Why? Why?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm not sure what you mean by 'caramel crust.' Do you mean the color and taste of the fat portion of the steak? It might have something to do with how steaks are prepared in the UK - often pan fried rather than grilled? Maybe it's the way the meat is cut or the cuts used.

    6 Replies
    1. re: zuriga1

      I am talking about the charring. I am steak that has been broiled at ligh temperature, the surface char will have an almost caremalised 'crust'.

      1. re: loobcom

        On my next attempt to cook a steak in the UK, I'm going to try a cut of Argentinian beef. I had an organic filet steak last night and found it tasteless and awful. I think one thing missing here is the marbling often found in good cuts over in the States. That makes a big difference in the taste. I sure do miss my Weber, outdoor grill!

        1. re: zuriga1

          you generally buy filet steak for tenderness, not for flavour.

          the best beef i've eaten has always been this side of the pond, though. if you truly want delicious steak at home, go to a butchers. top of the line is the rib eye from lidgates in holland park. or try the sirloin roast, with homemade horseradish cream.

          if you want to eat out, try the belgian cote de boeuf at cheyne walk brasserie. superb.

          and as for your weber, try and see if you can grill in a porcelain cooker like the big green egg .. oh my.

          1. re: howler

            I think before getting a weber, I'll have to get a house! I need a translation.. what is the big green egg?? I will try Cheyne Walk Brasserie one of these days.

              1. re: howler

                Aha... now I understand. I never saw one of those in the U.S. and we usually had a propane-fired gas grill. Maybe I could live in a big green egg instead of spending a zillion ££ on a house.

    2. Forgive the intrusion from someone from the States, but I was bored during lunch and decided to see what was cooking on the other side of the Big Blue Pond. :-)

      I do agree with zuriga that it's probably the way it's cooked - steaks here are often seared at a *very* high temperature on the grill or pan (often cast iron), which helps to form that "crust" you're talking about, and then finished in an oven to the temp/rareness requested by the diner. Marinades can also add to the crust, depending on the amount of sugars in the marinade.

      And depending on the temp to which the steak is cooked, it's often called "Black and Blue" for an extremely rare steak - charred crust on the outside, and very red-rare (almost still cold) on the inside.

      You might want to post your "Why? Why?" question on the General Topics board to get an answer, with a pointer link back to this original post. I'm sure the much more knowledgeable folks than I who read GenTopics will be better able to answer your question.

      1. this is getting off-topc ... but ... house prices in london are CHEAPER than in manhattan, pound rate and all. and here you don't have to worry about maintenance, yearly tax, nyc tax and tax when you sell.

        anyway, to keep it food related - i'd highly recommend popeseye in olympia as well - the cooking is variable, but when its on you can get a delish scottish steak. wine list is reasonable too.

        1. The best steaks in London are to be found at the Top Floor of Smiths at Smithfield and at the Arkansas Cafe.

          I haven't tried Hawksmoor.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Tony Finch

            oh god, no, no, no a thousand times no. if i didn't know thorny finch any better, i'd have thought this was a definite leg pull.

            smiths at smithfield is pedestrian at best, and as for bubbas arkansas cafe - sheesh. the only thing worth recommending about bubbas is that he inadvertently led me to an excellent syrian next door - the syrians barbecued chicken, his veggies - especially sauteed spinach - are outstanding. as a matter of fact, cafe meditteraneo became my favourite lunch place in the city.

            1. re: howler

              Finchy, I have to agree with Howler about smiths and bubbas. You should both try Hawksmoor. I visited them for the third time last week and had the bone-in sirloin and it was very good, but nowhere near as good as I have had at any number of establishments in NYC, DC, Chicago and all points west.

              The Popes Eye in Olympia serves good 28 day aged Scottish steaks. I don't know if they are wet or dry aged. I suspect wet. What irks me about eating there is that you come away smelling of steak and chips.

              Again I have to agree with Howler about the Cheyne Walk Brasserie where you will eat magnificent rib served with charm.

              For me the Cheyne Walk Brasserie is the best steak in London at the moment.

          2. My three favourite London steaks this year ( bar those cooked at home ) have been ( in no particular order )

            The Anchor & Hope

            Santa Maria Del Buen Ayre


            All quite different but very enjoyable none the less.

            An honourable mention should also go to Mal Maison which does a pretty decent attempt