'The style is not the only thing well-executed; the service is like a CIA operation'

The Meat & Wine Co

Open Mon–Sat 11am–midnight, Sun 11am–10.30pm

Arriving early for our reservation (having tackled more of Westfield than we could handle) we were accommodated with a smile and directed to the restaurant upstairs. The spiral staircase is lined with an impressive glass tower of wine bottles – a theme which continues throughout the restaurant, like a library-come-sculpture. With these acting as feature points, the rest of the decor is understated luxury, with warm brown tones, delicately patterned leather banquettes and soft lighting. It would be easy to fall into a trap of tacky themes but this has been tactically avoided; the South African vibe is in the food and the wine, as opposed to your face. The style is not the only thing well-executed; the service is like a CIA operation. Microphoned managers liaise between floors to run a smooth operation with seamless transitions between colleagues. We were dealt with by three different people before we reached our seats, where number four appeared to take our order.

The menus are worth a mention. Large and comprehensive, they follow the restaurant’s attention to detail and slick design. Wines are categorised by continent, individually described in depth, with the cocktails categorised by their alcohol base. My Ginger Gem mocktail (£4.25) was crisp and refreshing – as was the Bombay Sapphire G&T.

To start, I had the salt & pepper calamari (£8) described as ‘shallow fried to perfection’ – no arguments there. The crisp batter coated beautifully tender pineapple-scored pieces, paired nicely with their homemade Nam Jim sauce – a slightly sticky sweet chilli dip with a kick. The other half ventured for the herb crusted & roasted bone marrow (£10), which was a little daunting in size but proved to be a suitable portion. The fresh marinated cucumber accompaniment cut through the texture well and the marrow melted in the mouth.

His main was the British rib-eye, dry aged (£33 for 300g) up to 30 days and then wet aged ensuring succulent, tender steak. The ageing process had created a strong depth of flavour (he was advised to taste it on it’s own before trying it with the mushroom sauce). The side of creamed spinach (£4.25) was thick and creamy with a hint of spice.

My prawn and beef skewer (£28) arrived suspended on a metal device which held the plate below. The waiter kindly offered to de-skewer my dinner for me to avoid injury (my clumsiness knows no bounds). Both beef and king prawns were marinated, making them both full of flavour and tender. I suggest going for the prawns first, as it took me some time to tackle the portion and they were at risk of going cold. The onions and capsicum were juicy and crisp, and the hand cut potato chips were thick-cut, perfectly cooked and already seasoned to my taste.

Again, it’s all in the detail; each dessert on the menu has a suggestion for the perfect dessert wine to accompany it. Through pure greed, we went on to choose two of our waitress’ recommendations. The Madiba charity malva pudding (£7), Nelson Mandela’s favourite (and, so it seems, the favourite of every employee of The Meat Co), is best described as a kind of sticky toffee pudding, with a texture as soft and creamy as rice pudding. Made with apricot jam, the waitress said ‘back home’ it is eaten with custard, while here they go for a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. The boyfriend is definitely more of a meat man over puddings, but he couldn’t stop telling me how this was the best pudding he had ever had. Who knew. They also donate a pound to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund for every one sold. I was intrigued by the passion fruit baked yoghurt (£7.50), which arrived a passionfruit-topped semi-sphere of white, like a light cheesecake, with a scoop of sharp mango sorbet and a crisp homemade biscuit.

The Meat Co is not cheap, but the prices reflect the quality. Well executed cuisine and efficient service delivered by passionate staff in a warm and inviting environment. I couldn’t find anything lacking. I even ventured to the bathroom looking for something at fault: spotless and stylish. What more can I say.

As a side note, the staff were raving about the African dancers which we had sadly just missed, but it was suggested we come back next Wednesday for their fifth anniversary which promises to be packed full of authentic South African entertainment, including dancers on the chef’s table – dinner and a show.

The Meat & Wine Co, Unit 1026, Westfield London, Ariel Way, London, W12; themeatco.net; 020 8749 5914

Restaurants |