A Scotch Beef Feast at Plateau Canary Wharf:
It’s been much too long since I last visited Plateau. And, I have heard great things about how Head Chef Allan Pickett has worked to improve a restaurant I remember as being considerably better than average BEFORE he started to revamp the menu. So I was delighted to accept the invitation from Scotch Beef to join a dinner at Plateau and learn more about the Scotch Beef PGI label. If you are not already aware, PGI and PDO are the two European Union food categories to promote and protect names of quality foods, giving a guarantee of provenance, production methods and quality.
In the case of Scotch Beef that means the beef must have been slaughtered in Scotland and the meat itself must be carefully labelled so that consumers can tell exactly where it has come from. No horse meat jokes needed here, this is the real thing. Scotch Beef is farm assured and only farms that meet stringent assurance standards are eligible to have their cattle classed as Scotch Beef PGI which means it must be born, raised and slaughtered in Scotland and been farm assured for all of its life. The farm assurance scheme includes a whole range of stringent standards including welfare, feed, haulage and even livestock auction markets. And abattoirs are also included so that the method of slaughter is strictly controlled.
Unlike corn fed USDA beef, Scotch beef is grass fed for most of its life (with a diet that is occasionally supplemented with approved feed during winter months). That means the meat is firmer in texture and has a richer flavour with less marbling. Recent research suggests that grass fed beef is also healthier, with a lower fat content and with higher levels of Omega 3 and vitamin E. Scotch beef is generally hung for no more than 28 days because after that it can develop a strong gamey flavour.
After a welcome glass of champagne, we sat down in the restaurant’s private dining room. A short introduction by Laurent Vernet from Scotch Beef provided us with an insight into what makes Scotch Beef so special. But of course, the proof is always in the eating and of course that is what we went on to do.
The tartare of Scotch beef PGI was served with a quails egg yolk and onion bread croutes. Made properly the result is very light and tender and this dish was a real showcase for good meat. We enjoyed a 2011 Casamatta Rosso Bibi Greatz from Tuscany with the beef, a refreshing and uncomplicated wine.
The next course had a real wow factor for most of us. Tortellini of ox tail were served in a ‘Scotch Beef Tea’. Nothing like that bovril soup that your mother used to make, the tortellini were perfectly al-dente and the ‘tea’ well balanced and rich without being overwhelming. I have to admit, I was focused on the food. But, the 2011 Pinot Noir La Petit Clos from New Zealand obviously was a good match or I would have noticed it!
Salt and sugar cured Scotch Beef with wild roquette and 24 month old parmesan was a delicious dish of finely sliced cured and pressed beef, which we ate accompanied by a 2010 Alpataco Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina. I’ve tried making my own version of this dish for special occasions but with nothing like the same result. Next time I think I’ll ask the chef for his recipe because it was delicious with fine slices of firm, slightly salty beef perfectly matched to the peppery roquette and parmesan morsels.
It was the roast fillet of Scotch Beef PGI that, for me, was the star of the show. Served with a boulangere of layered ox cheek and potato, these dense but tender slices of beautifully flavoured beef arrived perfectly cooked with a deep Burgundy sauce. For this dish we were offered 2010 Silver Label Monastrell, from Juan Gil, Spain – a much richer and complex red wine that brought out the full depth of flavour in the beef.
Not one but two desserts – the first a palate cleansing citrus sorbet with champagne poured over it and then white chocolate mousse with fresh raspberries.
An excellent showcase for Scotch Beef and definitely an evening that puts Plateau at a new level (sorry) for me. Chef Allan Pickett provided a superlative meal and the whole event was so engaging that by the time I left the underground had stopped running! My first journey on a night bus for a LONG time, I got home safely and remarkably quickly with no problems thanks to a little help from Serena from IntoTheFWorld.
Many thanks to Scotch Beef for the invitation and to Allan Pickett and Head Sommelier Piedad for a great evening of food and drink.
London, E14 5ER