My friend, Jane, wanted to celebrate her birthday with a big, juicy steak. So she picked Goodman for a fun group dinner. And guess who was there the night I was there? Krista. It is definitely a small world. If you go to Krista’s post, you’ll see she’s linked to the half dozen other bloggers who’ve already been to Goodman and enjoyed it.
Me? I thought Goodman was a mixed bag and am unlikely to go back. In the interest of full disclosure, despite having been dragged to a lot of steakhouses, I’ve never been a huge fan of the genre, considering them the refuge of people who eat conservatively — you know, the ones who always get the chicken or steak dish when they eat out, but who still want a place where they can spend big money. (And don’t tell me you can get crabcakes or lobster, too – those have generally not turned out that tasty at steakhouses, either).
In any case, as many have noted, Goodman is Russian-owned. And you know, I could tell. The decor in the back room where we were seated isn’t so much American as much as it’s Old-School Library. Looking around, I saw shelves decorated with books and busts and such. And based on my trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg last year, I can tell you that the library look was popular there. The other giveaway would be the pickled herring starter – an anomaly on an otherwise steakhouse-standard list of starters.
Among the four different starters I tried, the chicken liver and foie gras pate was hands-down the best. And I’m not just saying that bc I have a weakness for foie gras. The humble chicken liver loaned its strong meaty flavor to the pate, making me wonder why Goodman had bothered with the foie gras at all (except to justify the £7.50 price tag).
The salmon carpaccio was my second-fave starter, though it’d been sliced so thin that the salmon became a mere vehicle for the tomato seeds, passionfruit and salt studded throughout. As for the other starters — the pea and chorizo risotto was mushy and gloppy from over-cooking and over-abundance of cheese, and the caesar salad needed more anchovies for oomph.
There were several (grass and corn-fed) steaks offered in different sizes and from different countries. Out of nostalgia for the mother country, I chose a New York strip and ordered it medium rare. Sadly, it arrived more medium than medium rare. I still ate the whole thing, though, because the accompanying bearnaise sauce was so good, masking the fact that my steak tasted tough. At £29, my New York strip was one of the cheaper steaks on the menu (with some of the ribeyes costing upwards of £40). And yet, the bottom line is that when you go to a steakhouse and think your steak could have been a lot better, that’s a bad thing.
At least the creamed spinach was lovely (it’s hard to go wrong with a bowl full of cream and butter) — the best of the side dishes. Goodman’s chips were fine, as were the mashed potatoes. But I think creamed spinach is always the way to go in a steakhouse.
Desserts were of the homey cheesecake-chocolate cake variety. A cinnamon-apple tart, while a bit soggy in the crust, was the most appealing of the three or four we tried. Not a surprise given that hot apple, cinnamon and vanilla ice cream are a tough-to-beat flavor combo.
The sundae, on the other hand, was mostly whipped cream and bits of pound cake, whereas I’d hoped for tons of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. Oh well. This isn’t America, after all.
With Goodman’s steaks costing £30-50, starters £8, sides £4 and desserts £6, it’s easy to see how the tab adds up fast. The service was friendly and responsive, but our meal with a modest amount of wine per person came to £85 each. At those prices, I long for the days of all-about-the meat places like Ray’s the Steaks in Washington, DC, and I’m unlikely to return to Goodman anytime soon. Unless I’m craving creamed spinach.
Goodman, 26 Maddox Street, W1S 1QH; 0207 499 3776; closest tube station: Oxford Circus