It was the Monday that the Beast from the East had sidled its way into the British Isles and Nappy Valley was shivering under icy ... Read Feature
Zelman meats is a fairly new establishment in St. Anne’s court, Soho. Where I hear you ask? You know that alleyway between Dean Street and Wardour Street, I say. Ah yes, been down there hundreds of times, never really knew what it was called, I hear you reply. Don’t worry I’m not really hearing voices, it’s just I’ve been asked to explain its location many many times.
Strangely enough having wandered through St. Anne’s court more times than I can count, I’ve never eaten there. The location that now boasts Zelman Meats, was once a branch of Revolution and a favourite drinking hole of one of my former employers. I don’t know why we went there, it wasn’t particularly near the office, or cheap or full of charm, but it was rather spacious. That probably counted for a lot when most pubs in the West End are so jammed on a Thursday and Friday night you look forward to your spacious commute back home on the Northern Line.
The Thursday night that we were dining I met the Delightful Dining Companion for a quick drink first at the Union Club. The Union Club is a private members club on Greek Street and one of my indulgences left from a more expansive time in terms of wallet capacity. Unlike many bland private members clubs, the Union looks like it’s been decorated by a colour blind kleptomaniac who’s just cleaned up with a mega-haul at the Antiques Roadshow.
We stayed for a couple of beers before making our way over to Zelmans, arriving slightly earlier than our advertised time. This was no problem at all according to the polite and friendly staff, and we were immediately shown to our table.
Zelman’s in its new guise is even roomier than it was during its previous incarnation as Revolution. The table for 2 that we were given was actually a nicely proportioned mini booth and I immediately felt at home. Zelman meats is named as such for a reason, the menu is dominated by beef, as it says on the website all they do is beef, and if you have a beef with that you’re probably better off eating elsewhere.
The people who’ve brought us Zelman’s do have an excellent pedigree when it comes to beef. They are the guys behind Beast, Goodman’s as well as Burger & Lobster and so my expectations were high. The early signals were good, a short menu and an even shorter ingredients list. At dinner time it’s true, the only meat was beef, no sell out chicken or pork, just beef and plenty of it.
Zelman’s has something that I personally have never seen before on a wine list, stackable wines. OK, so for someone like me who didn’t know what this is, basically you get to order 3 250ml carafes of wine which come stacked together looking like a bottle. It’s not the cheapest way of drinking, but its great fun and you can plan different flavours for the different courses. It’s not something I’d do for every meal out but at Zelman’s it certainly seem apropos.
It was nearly my birthday and so I quite fancied treated myself and therefore had already decided I wanted a starter, I noticed the sheer energy with which the DDC failed to restrain me in my bid to pamper us. We both like cooked oysters, so I ordered a few baked oysters and one raw for us to share (I had the raw one.)
The baked oysters were delicious, the sauce being firm and tasty. The fresh oyster, was good, tasting like a little bit of the sea had found its way to my plate. I could have done with a few more to be honest, but considering what was to come later it’s just as well I had held myself back slightly.
It will come as no great surprise that for the main course we were having beef. Well more than beef really we were having what can be described as adventures in cattle or holy cow! How much did I order? With the main course, the gloves had come off, well they’d never really been on, but now they were dumped in the waste paper bin, sprayed with lighter fluid and thoroughly cremated. We ended up going for 3 different types of beef, short ribs, dirty steak (smoked,) and brisket. Obviously just having meat might be considered unhealthy, so had some truffle fries (the chips de jour) and salad to accompany this.
The beef when it arrived was served on a platter that could have comfortably served as the roof for a small shed. The sides weren’t much better, with salad bowl resembling nothing so much as an up-ended astronaut’s helmet. OK so you get it there was lots of it, but how did it taste?
Well it was good, BBQ is basically the food of the people and specifically the American people. Here it was being given a gourmet twist and by heaven it worked. All the cuts were flavourful and amongst the best I’ve had for a while. For the DDC the stand out was the short rib, but unusually we disagreed on this. For me it was the brisket which surprisingly was the cheapest cut on the menu. This was well flavoured and tender to the point that it seemed to dissolve once it got into my mouth, much like a puff of meaty, peaty smoke.
Both the sides were good, the truffle fries especially actually reeking of truffly goodness, but despite the excellence of the food, it was a struggle. The stackable wines helped here and it was a mini adventure every time we swapped from one wine to the next.
Someone had told Zelman’s it was coming up to my birthday and without prompting a slice of apple pie with ice cream arrived. This wasn’t perhaps the best timing as I was feeling rather like a balloon straining on an air pump. The DDC wisely chose not to indulge in pudding, whilst I decided to soldier on, despite feeling as if the pie crust would now start trying to find its way out of my ears.
At the end I decided to go for a digestif, hoping that it would live up to its name. I went for a brandy whilst the DDC opted for a green chartreuse, one of her favourites and not one that it’s that easy to find. It helped, but upon leaving I did still feel rather like a tethered zeppelin.
The bill when it came was a high, but not extortionate £147. This is high obviously for a random night out, but sort of midway I think for a special occasion, or for a media style expenses junket. The food is good, but here it is one place where it is definitely down to the ingredients.
OK, but here is where it deserves a special shout out. For some unknown reason that night I didn’t sleep at all easily or really pretty much at all. The next morning thinking it could be the fresh oyster I wrote to Zelman meats to tell them of my concern. They immediately offered to launch a full investigation and came back with the news that I had been the only one that night to report anything amiss.
Thinking of Occam’s razor it seemed likely to me that if I was the only one reporting in sick it was likely to be the quantity rather than the quality of the food I’d consumed and asked them nicely to drop the investigation. I was and remain impressed at how seriously they took it, for this I’m going to award Zelman’s a Robstar for service above and beyond, and I look forward to returning.
Till the next time…
2 St Anne”s Court