A date with the world’s greatest steak

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  • The Jose Gordon menu at The World’s End Market in London's King's Road promises meat that's been given the respect it deserves

    There’s quite a build up to eating from the Jose Gordon’s El Capricho set menu at the World’s End Market. The menu is entirely devoted to meat (though there’s an a la carte as well) and the anticipation is a little bit like getting ready for a date with the creature you’re about to have for dinner.

    We’re led through the cool British 1930s-inspired décor of the former pub – a grade 2 listed building in the heart of the King’s Road’s World’s End. (For those old enough to remember, this was the birthplace of British punk, where Vivienne Westwood famously had her shop, Sex. Interesting fact.)

    Once seated, and partaking of a delicious cocktail, our knowledgeable waiter walks us through Senor Gordon’s menu. It transpires that Jose Gordon – who features in a Netflix documentary Steak Evolution – is a Spanish “meat master”. He has a farm outside Leon, in North Western Spain, which is home to his oxen. He travels far and wide around the country to find the calmest oxen to bring home because, apparently, the more relaxed the ox (an ox is a castrated bull), the more tender the meat. Angry, stressed bulls end up with chewy, bitter meat. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Senor Gordon brings his super-chilled oxen back to his farm where they work the farm until age three. After this they retire, and basically they live the life of Riley until… ahem… D-Day. This might not come until they are aged six – sometimes even aged 14, with Senor Gordon himself selecting the exact date of “stress-free slaughter” for each animal.

    Wow. I’m pretty stunned by all this information – and the fact that the raw meat is hanging up in a kind of butcher’s window so that you are practically introduced to it beforehand – but can only agree that it must be A Very Good Thing. If you’re going to eat meat, then giving it this much respect is obviously the right thing to do.

    I start with the ox tongue – cooked for 72 hours then super thinly sliced and served with pickles, olive oil and salt. It’s creamy, subtle and superb. My husband Ben has carpaccio made from entrecote – just a few slices lie on the place, having been matured for 180 days – that’s almost six months. It’s equally amazing – pure taste on a plate, washed down with some Rioja from the excellent wine list.

    I wouldn’t usually go for two meat courses in a row – still less two plates of beef – but that’s what’s on this menu, so off we go again.

    I opt for the premium choice on the menu – the Solomillo De Buey, a fillet steak that costs £39 on the a la carte menu. It strikes me that this is the price one should pay for something as precious as meat – and I’m slightly ashamed of the amount of meat I’ve eaten in my life that has had rather less considered lifespans.

    Served with a simple butter lettuce salad, it’s a big hunk of meat. I’m told that I really should order it rare – not being full of water, due to it’s being dry aged, it wouldn’t take kindly to anything more. I usually take my steak medium but I obediently concur. I normally view steak as an opportunity to consume gallons of béarnaise, horse radish or mustard – condiments are my favourite thing – but when I ask about this the waiter looks almost offended and urges me to try it naked before giving in. I get some mustard anyway, on the basis that it’s my dinner, not his. But the steak really is wonderful – more tender than you could possible imagine, tasty and succulent.

    Ben goes for the El Capricho Burger, 110 days matured, with the usual accoutrements though slightly better (parmesan and truffle fries, anyone?). He pronounces it the best burger he has ever eaten, which is saying something, let me tell you. I have to admit feeling a slight case of menu envy. My steak was perfect but his seemed more enjoyable (ok, so I’m basic, don’t judge me).

    Hazel and caramel cheesecake follows, along with a divine vanilla panna cotta. It’s been an evening of education, and gorgeous cuisine – food for thought as well as on the plate.

    Worlds End Market, 459 Kings Road, London SW10 0LR


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