Our Healthista Eats blogger tried out the best paleo-perfect grass fed steak in London at Restaurant 34
When it comes to eating out, Mayfair in London is not only one of the most magnificent looking areas to visit (or live if you are lucky enough), but is a rather good destination to dine out in style.
This weekend, as I had been away all of the last one chilling out at a meditation retreat in Sussex, I had barely spent any time with my fiancé, so as he enjoys his food as much as I do, I thought it was about time we went out for rather fabulous dinner.
He is a big fan of a good steak and a few glasses of red, so I did my research and found somewhere that fit the bill and booked us a table at 34 – a sexy, sophisticated grill restaurant founded by Richard Caring of Caprice Holdings, one of London’s most high profile restaurateurs who has made a roaring success of a number of my favorite places to eat, including The Ivy, J Sheekey and Scott’s to name a few. 34, although not brand new, is the most recent addition to his rather tasty collection.
When it comes to eating steak, as far as I am concerned there is only one way to do it, and that is to do it well. Although there are now quite a few swanky restaurants around town to tempt you, my main concern is the huge variation in quality of meat that they serve. When it comes to eating beef eating organic and free-range is a far better option.
If any of you have been following, or looked into the Primal/Paleo/Caveman diet, you will know only too well that these guys are into us getting our grass-fed meats. They have certainly done their research and have proven that grass-fed (and ideally organic) meat is naturally reared and will provide us with far superior nutritional value including naturally occurring omega-3 fatty acids for brain and heart health – rather than eating beef from cattle that has been grain-fed a mixture of grass, grain and soy meal to fatten it up fast and/or given growth hormones to accelerate that even more.
It seems the addition of these grains to the cow’s diet can mean that the beef will contain much higher levels of omega 6 fatty acids, (which are already too dominant in our modern diet) and too much omega 6 is not good. We really need much more of omega 3 fat, which is produced when the cows are fed with grass.
Every once in a while I do enjoy arriving somewhere and being greeted by two charming, smart-suited door attendants who happily take your bags, open the door for you and welcome you with a ‘good evening madam’. It’s flattering, I like it a lot and I could just tell from first glance inside that this place meant business.
After coats were whisked away by the cloakroom attendant, I glided behind the maître de, passed the elegant piano bar, through the restaurant to be seated at my immaculately presented table. Feeling very settled, I just had that wonderful reassuring feeling you get when you know you are being looked after by people that know exactly what they are doing.
Good food is essential, but good service just makes your evening so much better and can make or break a restaurant. As I anticipated, when my waiter arrived and I asked him in more detail about the menu, he didn’t need to dash off to the kitchen to check with the chef about the ingredients in the dish, or state he would have to get back to me after speaking to the manager – no, this man knew his stuff and delivered the information with total confidence – a true professional.
34 oozed sophistication. Like the others made so famous in Caring’s collection, it has style without having to try too hard. The interior of the restaurant is not lavish, just pleasant to be in. Light piano music can be heard from the bar and the good acoustics in the restaurant allow you to enjoy your conversation and not be distracted by unwanted noise, or others chatting on the next table.
One of the things that excited me so much about this restaurant was the parilla grill that they have installed to cook the meat. The bespoke charcoal grill, also known as a parrilla, is custom-made and imported from Argentina (Argentinians are pretty famous for their steaks, so that is a good start). The parilla grill is fuelled only with natural charcoal (this is quite unique compared to other restaurants grilling methods), so the flavour of the food cooked is exceptional and also healthy way to cook your meat. The chefs use the grill not only to cook the beef, but also for seasonal game, fish and shellfish.
Oliver (my fiancé) arrived and his face was lit up with a huge smile, he seemed most impressed with this evening’s plan. After a quick chitchat about our day we discussed the menu and made a mutual decision to both go for the Argentinian steak, sprouted broccoli and spinach sides and a bottle of organic Spanish wine to complete it.
There are a few choices of steak, but the Argentinian beef is from 100 per cent free-range, organic, grass-fed pasture-raised cows. No antibiotics or hormones are used and the quality is exceptional.
We chose to have our spinach and broccoli steamed and had a side order of olive oil with chili and a little garlic to drizzle over it – yum.
I had ordered steak frites (swapped the frites for broccoli), which came with a béarnaise sauce – which I swapped for the lighter option of the horseradish.
Oliver had the sirloin, which comes sliced up and cooked as requested. He chose the spicy-smoked BBQ sauce on the side, which was recommended by his healthy eating expert (me) as better than ketchup, which unfortunately he adores. All sauces (as you should imagine) are homemade with fresh ingredients.
The food arrived and looked incredible. Our steaks were served on beautiful china plates and all sauces and sides in little silver dishes with matching silver cutlery.
The spinach and broccoli were delightful. I know it does not sound the most exciting of sides, but when cooked well, these two vegetable dishes are so good for you and certainly some of my favorites.
The steak, I must say, was the best I have ever had before in London. The flavour from the grill was something really special and the taste of the meat was really different from steaks I have had before. The chefs had cooked it perfectly and each mouthful was even more delicious.
We don’t eat steak out too often, but this was exceptional and we both agreed after the final mouthful that we would certainly be coming back again to try this and other dishes on the menu.
We finished our meal with a sweet treat and chose mango, blackcurrant and winter fruit sorbets. One is enough to share and is refreshingly good as it contains lots of fruit and not too much sugar to make it too sweet.
Overall, the service, food and whole experience at 34 was perfect. If you enjoy steak, try the Argentinian. I could not imagine you would not be anything less than seriously impressed as I was if you do.
Steaks start from £21.00 and sides around £4.95. Wine starts from a very reasonable £20.00, and dessert around £7.50.
Address: 34 Grosvenor Square (entrance on South Audley Street)
London W1K 2HD. 34-restaurant.co.uk 0203 350 34 34
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CHARLOTTE DORMON is our Healthista Eats blogger. She’s not a chef, or even that much of a cook. If it’s recipes you’re looking for – you’re in the wrong place. But whether it’s Sunday lunch or Friday night cocktails, she’s the one friends and family turn to when they want to know how to eat out and be relatively healthy. Each week she’ll now be bringing you the same insider knowledge. We’ll drink – and eat – to that. Follow Charlotte on Twitter @lottielurvsu