NYC, New York, USA
New York stalwart Katz’s Deli is famous for three things: generosity of portion size; the military mail order charcuterie service – “send a salami to your boy in the Army”; and of course THAT scene in When Harry Met Sally. The pastrami sandwich could well send you to similar levels of delight. And probably make you want a nap afterwards.
Goodman feels like a steakhouse. Fans of Morton’s or Peter Luger’s or any of the other great NY places will feel right at home in this hugely dependable Mayfair location (or, for that matter, its sister branches at Bank and Canary Wharf ). Initially, that’s down to the design – dark wood tables, leather banquettes, that general air of masculinity – and the food (big slabs of grilled cow), but, ultimately, it’s the quality of the staff, the warmth of welcome, and that impressive ability to read a table and be either invisible (and highly efficient) or agreeably informal (and highly efficient).
Pierce Brosnan and Jackie Chan fans can also recreate scenes from The Foreigner, should they feel so inclined. A friend used to argue that the Goodman chefs – and those at all such similar quality steak establishments – are some of the best out there. After all, he’d suggest, they’re making steak and chips and that means there’s nowhere to hide. He has a point: it’s not like you can turn an overdone ribeye into a ragu and tell a customer it’s “chef’s interpretation” or sneak it in as a course on a tasting menu. You’re there because you want one of those aforementioned slabs of grilled cow and are probably quite particular about how you want it cooked.
Thanks to Goodman’s sourcing – a mix of USDA Prime and, in increasing amounts, the very best grassfed beef that the UK can produce – and their two Josper grills (they were the first in London to get these celebrated Spanish charcoal ovens), those slabs are about as good as it gets.
Over the decade Goodman has been delivering the goods to the people of Mayfair, they’ve also honed the rest of the menu: impeccable sides (including brilliant chips, both regular and truffled, and what’s probably London’s best mac ’n’ cheese), a short, rarely-changing list of very good starters (of which the tempura prawns are perhaps the stand-out) and, while the last thing you might want after 850g of bone-in Belted Galloway is pudding, the desserts are also excellent. The cheesecake is the big seller but the cookie sundae – with cookies, like the bread, that are made in-house – has some seriously nostalgic charm.
As seen in – depending on your viewing habits – the full TV series or the compendium film version of The Trip to Spain, Malaga’s El Refectorium is a fine discovery, the sort of unassuming local tapas place you dream of stumbling across on every visit to Spain. The atmosphere is buzzing, and the food is simple and superb. Just bring your own Wogan impressions.