I’ve been wanting to try Zelman since they’ve opened. You see, when I was a wee girl, my friends ran a club night called The Meat Raffle at Catch and the fact that Zelman apparently offered meat raffles (and chateaubriand by the 100g) was more than enough to turn me on and pull me in. Turns out it resides in what used to be a-giant-waste-of-space, Vodka Revolution off Wardour St. in Soho. I dunno why, but both myself and Grant thought that it was going to be in a small space… *shrug*. Well, last time I was in Vodka Revolution, the drinks were awful and that evening was only saved by a flashmob doing Gangnam Style. Hilarious, but apparently I don’t have a video of it (Sorry!): anything would be better than that, and most probably in the good hands of Goodman’s little brother.
Back to Zelman Meats giant dining room: it’s great that they had so many booths of different sizes (I love it when you get 2-top booths) but the space felt way too large. I’d recommend sitting in the back room by the bar (not the semi-open kitchen)- it just seems more intimate and cozy in there. I was however, impressed that they had racks over all the booths – no need to perch on a mountain of bags and coats, huzzah! They also have these cool graffiti/19th century style prints that I loved – until I went into the toilet and had to stare at some chick who looked disconcertingly like one of the dead Romanovs while I peed. Freaaaakkkky. The mystery of Princess Anastasia scares me more than Rasputin.
Our Portuguese waiter was super friendly and patient and waited for a LONG time while we mulled over the short and sweet menu. Mainly because I was causing trouble by refusing to eat fries and Grant really wanted fries (hey, I really wanted them too, but I’m trying not to expand to the size of a house). Finally, we settled on brisket, chateaubriand, short ribs, aubergine, cooked pointy cabbage and truffle fries. We were told to get only 2 sides but since we didn’t have starters, 3 were ok right? And literally all the sauces? TOTALLY RATIONAL.
Turned out it wasn’t rational anything. Our food arrived and at this point, I was feeling pretty confident- it wasn’t a shitton of meat and surely we can gobble up some vegetables? How oh very wrong was I…by the bitter end we managed to stuff all the meat in our bellies, but left feeling a bit sickly with meat sweats. So yeah, listen to the waiter.
The Meat: The best of the bunch was definitely the brisket, it might have been the cheapiest, but turned out the tastiest as well. The flavours were out of this world and the meat itself fell apart beautifully with just the right amount of indulgent, slightly gelatinous fattiness to it. As a rule chateaubriand isn’t my favourite cut, as generally I prefer a more flavourful cut (usually a sirloin or ribeye), but this was very soft and still flavourful, and I like the fact that it’s ordered by 100g (usually the trouble of eating Chateaubriand is finding someone who also wanted fillet to share with you). Finally, we both agreed that the slow cooked short rib was the weakest link – it wasn’t BAD, but since the waiter raved about it, we ‘saved the best till the last’ and it turned out that the brisket was the best. This slow cooked beauty was tasty, just not out-of-this-world like the brisket was.
The Sauces: I felt that the devil’s mayo was too spicy for me and superfluous – it wasn’t a great dip for any of our food. The bearnaise was good, but I like mine warm and slightly runnier, potaaaayto, potahhhhto. Our fav was the silent runner, the chimichurri- when it arrived we were a little concern as this was a puree instead of traditionally chopped. However, the flavour was perfect, hitting the right note of herbiness with a hit of vinegar, just right for cutting through the meat.
The Sides: Oh. My. God. It was a bad day to not eat carbs. The truffle fries were amongst the best we’ve both eaten- fantastically triple fried with chunks of truffle and plenty of parmesan. The results? Fries that both smell and taste of heavenly truffle. 10/10! The other two, though well prepared and perfectly tasty paled in comparison – things ‘ottolenghi-esq’ that could be quite easily recreated at home. Of the cabbage and aubergine, I’d probably get the cabbage again if I had to.
Drinks: They have this funny system where you get 3 carafes for a discount, but we both went for the Douro – I’ve never had this grape before and Grant explained that this is the port grape. I like port, so why not? Perhaps they felt sorry for Grant having to wait an age for me to decide anything, our wines were very generous pours. Perfectly quaffable and a fair value.
Would I go back? I’d like to think so. And when I do, I know exactly what I’m getting- 100g brisket, 100g Chateaubriand, truffle chips and the apple pie (which I didn’t try due to the over ordering issue but has mouthwatering reviews elsewhere).
P.S The waiter also gave us tips for the best Portuguese egg tarts in London so stay tuned for an egg tart face/off!
P.P.S. Sorry for the photos, the lighting was a bit… Romantic.
Around £40 each if you’re not a super greedy pig.
Food: ★★★★☆ (5 million for the truffle fries and the brisket, 4 for everything else)
2 St. Anne’s Court (corner w/ Dean St)