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Boisdale Bishopsgate – an Introduction to the Tomahawk and More:
My Scottish heritage helps me feel comfortable whenever I walk into Boisdale; warm deep red walls, lots of old prints and a whisky lined bar – the Scottish hunting lodge I never owned! The Bishopsgate branch of Boisdale is down a narrow alley and hidden from the road. But, it’s close enough to Liverpool Street station that even I didn’t get lost!
Upstairs at Boisdale of Bishopsgate there’s a friendly bar, but it was downstairs to the cosy restaurant that I was heading. Boisdale specialises in Scottish food which means you can expect great fish and beef so that was the focus of our choice of food for the evening. Having said that, the steak chosen by my dining companion from By-Invitation is actually an American cut we seldom see in this country – the aptly named Tomahawk. More of that later.
Oysters were my choice of starter. In a way it’s a ‘no-fuss’ start to a meal because it is such a classic dish – and these were served with a simple wine vinegar and shallot dressing that for the most part was ignored by me because the oysters were good enough to eat naked;)
My companion was surprised by his Devonshire crab cocktail which arrived tian style in layers of white, brown and green. The mix of avocado and wild garlic mayonnaise and the inclusion of the brown meat (which I think has a very special flavour and depth) gave the dish a real richness. Not that he complained at all!
We then had an introduction to the aforementioned Tomahawk. It’s an amazing cut of beef, taken from the rib of the beef which gets its name from the tomahawk axe! Around 30oz of 45 day old dry aged beef, from a mixed rare-breed Long, Shorthorn and Dexter cattle herd in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, this dish is intended for sharing!
Now, I am supposed to be avoiding eating too much red meat. While I don’t generally take too much notice, the idea of tackling the Tomahawk really did sound dangerous. So, instead, my companion decided he could cope with one alone and in an effort to be healthy I picked the fish of the day (halibut with pancetta and samphire).
The Tomahawk is a jaw-dropping dish. It arrives on a wooden platter, complete with ‘garnish’ of duck fat chips, roasted bone marrow, beer braised onions & salsa dragoncello, and is cut up in front of you. A rib-eye steak needs to be medium rare or better cooked, because it is usually deeply marbled…and this particular iteration was spot on.
Meanwhile, I tucked in to my ultra-healthy and very delicious halibut. Well, perhaps not entirely healthy, a topping of crispy pancetta and a rich buttery jus means this dish probably wouldn’t make a diet book. But, still rather better than 30oz of rib-eye steak! Anyway, I thought I was being well behaved enough to deserve a taste – and almost regretted not having indulged, because the beef was full flavoured and melting, with a texture you only get from excellent beef that has been properly aged.
My halibut was matched with a glass of Montmains Chablis 2009 Premier Cru while my companion happily enjoyed a rich Lebanese wine, the Bekaa Valley Massaya 2007.
Of course having been so well behaved for the first two courses, I saw no reason not to indulge in dessert and, with true Scottish style chose the Cranachan, a raspberry and oat dessert with honey, cream and whisky that I love. Meanwhile, my companion, clearly undaunted by an entire Tomahawk picked a sticky toffee pudding and Cornish clotted cream, which thankfully was an appropriately constrained size. I don’t often enjoy whisky, but having ordered a whisky based dessert, a dram of Glenrothes 25yr whisky was actually exactly the right accompaniment.
We both loved our meal. The food was excellent without being complicated and service was smooth and helpful. And, entertainment was provided by the table opposite, three city guys out for the evening who ended up paying for their meal by way of credit card roulette.
Thank you to Boisdale of Bishopsgate for the chance to review, and to Simon from By-Invitation for tackling the Tomahawk undaunted!