My fellow explorer Toby and I went searching for the best steak ever. We dared the seething rapids of the escalators on the Victoria Line. We were stifled in the log-jams around the fabled Sloane Square. Everywhere we seemed to be turned back. The distances too great. The direction unsure. At last a dragoman in a London cab took us all the way to the very utterness of the Kings Road to the Worlds End Market, where we found the legendary steak and a grave waiter of arcane authority.
I have no idea what it’s like in the evening but The Worlds End Market at lunchtime is the kind of place a Spanish senator might take a colleague for conspiracy. It is white-tiled, restrained and pristine. Upon entering I immediately got the idea that the furnishings were the stage for some as yet unrevealed main event. Like a couple of Alan Quartermaines we were seated by the waiter who began to tell us of the steak. The serious fellow explained that one Jose Gordon was the first to bring these beefy treasures to London.
You might have heard of this new craze. You see there are old cattle in the long green arc of northwest of Spain. From the Basque country, through Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia they let their beef grow big and free. They eat mountain grass and drink pure spring water. They say that the meat of these old beasts is rangy, well marbled and succulent. And this is but half of the story. For our waiter explained that once slaughtered the beef is aged, and aged…and aged. We went to look at the great joints hanging up. Buttery fat and deep claret flesh.
‘Bring us some!’ we cried, like men eager for hinted treasure.
They gave us carpaccio from the entrecote and steak tartare. Mine was a resonant spread of cool slices. Toby’s diced raw muscle had a clean plangency. This boded well. For the main course we both had the Solomillo de Buey – fillet steak from one of the ancient beasts of old Leon. Our side orders truffle fries and mashed potatoes were minor accompanying notes to the deep bass tones of the steaks. The ageing certainly tenderises. They were good. We had a fine bottle of Rioja to go with the beef.
Now I don’t eat much meat, so when I do I want something special. For the fabled feasts give me an old cow treated nicely, hung well and then seared any time.
By Steven O’Brien