Meat and Wine Company

Unit 109, Ariel Way, London, England, W12 7GA, United Kingdom

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The huge Westfield shopping complex has around fifty places to eat, though most of these are fast food or casual places. Along the Southern Terrace are a string of restaurants, one of the first of which you come to is Meat and Wine, part of an international chain based in South Africa. Downstairs is a bar area, with a large dining room upstairs. Huge glass display cases of wine decorate the dining room, which has an open kitchen. The main room can seat up to 250 people at one time, and even on the quiet lunchtime day that I attended most of the tables were in use.

Wine selections included Marques de Riscal 2006 for £23.50 for a wine that retails at around £9, Hess Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon at £52 for a wine that costs about £20 to buy, the excellent Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 at £48.50 for a wine you can pick up for around £16, and at the upper end of the list Lynch Bages 1997 for £195 compared to a retail price of around £50. This is an altogether more serious list that I was expecting, and each wine on the extensive list has brief tasting notes to describe it.

I began with peri peri prawns (£10). Peri peri is a name for a specific African chilli pepper, the “bird’s eye” and so I had expected a fairly fiery sauce, but though there was a mild chilli taste it was more a tap than a kick. The prawns themselves were cooked properly, served with rice, but I would have hoped for a more lively sauce; perhaps they have calibrated it to their expectations of what a Westfield shopper is likely to be comfortable with (11/20).

The speciality here is the meat, and the UK beef (there is also Australian beef) is supplied from a company in Leicestershire called Parker Fine Foods, using beef that has been aged at least 21 days. Alternatively there is more exotic fare in the form of springbok, kudu, ostrich or kangaroo (not sure about the geographic logic of this last, though kangaroo is a good meat to eat). I went for the UK fillet steak (£24), and this was actually very good indeed: the beef had no hint of stringiness, nice taste and was cooked exactly as I had requested it (comfortably 13/20 for the steak). Chips with it were hand-cut rather than frozen and were decent (12/20) though not as crisp as ideal; to be honest it is extremely hard to produce great chips using the double cooking method used here – triple cooked is really the only way to go. A peppercorn sauce with the steak was a little sludgy and again did not seem to me to have enough pepper flavour, though a side salad was properly dressed and pleasant.

For dessert, apple crumble was served with a little bowl of custard and cinnamon ice cream, decorated by an apple crisp. The crumble in itself was fine but unfortunately was almost cold by the time it was served (11/20 if I ignore the temperature).

The waiter I encountered was very good, and overall this place was a lot better than I really anticipated for what is essentially a steak house in a shopping mall. It is clearly doing plenty of business, and based on this experience perhaps the strategy is to try and stick as closely as possible to the good quality meat, in which case you will eat quite well.

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