Sink Your Teeth into the Best Piece of Meat in London



There has never been a better time to be a meat eater in London. First came the nose-to-tail trend spearheaded by Fergus Henderson of St. John restaurant in the 90s. As he says: “If you’re going to kill an animal, it seems only polite to use the whole thing.” Quite right, and London chefs have taken that on board with the likes of heart and tripe, once painfully out of fashion, back in vogue on British menus.

This also brought with it an increased attention to provenance, with diners demanding sustainable meat sourced from the best British farms. You'll see many restaurants boasting of meat from the Ginger Pig, known citywide as the best butcher in town selling fare from their farm in North Yorkshire. 

More recently, the recession has created a reaction against the small portions and big prices of fine dining, and the hottest new openings offer hearty affordable dishes. Burgers, fried chicken and hotdogs have been salvaged from the clasp of fast food and given a gourmet makeover. Turning to the USA for inspiration, American style barbecue and burger joints, given an edgy British twist, are big news – just look at the fervour graffitied cocktail and burger joint MEATliquor induces, with queues around the block and now a handful of venues.

This list covers a range of London restaurants that demonstrate a passion for beautifully-prepared and carefully sourced meat from the classic steak to pig's ears salad.  



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The name is partially misleading. Lardo's is, in fact, a pizzeria despite being named after the cured back fat of a pig. The pizzas are fired in front of your in the gorgeous open kitchen. They're delicious, Italian style, and satisfyingly crispy. While you can only order lardo as a pizza topping, they also specialize in excellent Italian charcuterie. The rest of the menu is mainly antipasti with some pasta and secondi. Stand out dishes in the past have included the crispy pig ear salad and celeriac and fontina croquettes. The style is somewhere between a Italian home kitchen and an industrial loft with floor to ceiling windows and tightly-packed wooden tables. It's casual, cozy and perfect date material. They're open from brunch to dinner, with outdoor tables in summer. The wine list is short, well-priced, and predominately Italian, and the cocktails are excellent.


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Anything anyone can do, the Hawksmoor team can probably do better. Shortly after the multi million buy out of their Hawksmoor group of restaurants, food superstars Huw Gott and Will Beckett opened Foxlow, a more casual, slightly more affordable alternative, with the same dedication to impeccably sourced meat and enough fat, salt and sugar to kill you (while licking your lips). The space is austere, cool, with even cooler staff and none of the attitude. Sourced from the Ginger Pig butchers, they do the rare-breed steaks a la Hawksmoor and more modish dishes like ten hour shortrib with kimchi. The salad bar feels like an ode to Ottolenghi, and there are plenty of excellent fish and vegetarian options for any non meat eaters amongst your group.


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The Pitt Cue Co started as a pop up American barbecue van under London's Hungerford Bridge. Tom Adams is the chef and brains behind this venture, and after serving finger lickin' food out of his van, he moved his operations to Soho to great reviews. Pulled pork, coleslaw, crunchy pickles, beef brisket are all on the menu here, so anyone who likes slow smoked American style barbecue in London should make a beeline for this place. Everything comes served in enamel bowls or tin trays, giving it that trendy diner feel, as though you were in the middle of a world recession; and oh yes, you are.


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While many restaurants rush to cater to everyone, it's refreshing to discover a place like Brawn, which simply refuses to do vegetarian. It's a pig heavy menu here with everything from pork scratchings to actual brawn (pig's head) and imported charcuterie. Everything on the menu is carefully sourced from the natural wine to the E5 Bakehouse bread. Other daring morsels include Grilled Duck Hearts, Snails with Alsace bacon, and Crispy Sand Eels. Nab a seat during the Sunday flower market for one of the most sought after spots in town. The decor is unfussy and bright with simple furniture and a relaxed atmosphere.


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Bringing a hefty dose of urban cool to the West End, the newly-opened MEATliquor bar and restaurant blends meaty burgers with late-night cocktails. In a nod to New York's Lower East side, founders Yianni Papoutsis and Scott Collins of the infamous Meatwagon truck and legendary pop-up dive bar #Meateasy have decked the place out in gothic graffiti with blinking red neon signs. The menu includes Big Apple favourites such as fried chicken and Philly cheese steaks, offered up alongside 'Dead Hippie' cheese burgers, while cocktails are bashed down on the bar in jam jars. An English Breakfast Martini with a pickled quails egg on a stick offers a good potential hair of the dog option while a Donkey Punch, a play on the Moscow Mule made with lime juice, ginger beer and absinthe caters to livelier tastes.


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Residential De Beavoir may be pretty, but it isn't somewhere a tourist would necessarily travel. However, an increasing number of interesting venues have opened up here, making it worth the journey. One of the staples is Duke's Brew & Cue, a neighbourhood barbecue joint and brew pub. It's cool inside, which is hardly surprising seeing as this is the home of Beavertown microbrewery, founded by Logan Plant (Robert Plant's son) and in the heart of hipsterville Hackney. But it's the meat that people come for: the sticky, finger-lickin Southern style ribs straight from the hot wood smoker with excellent side dishes too (Mac & Cheese, Bastardo Chicken Wings & Okra). Craft beers are naturally in abundance, but they make a mean cocktail too.


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East London


 

This simple little eatery has been a staple of Broadway Market local life for many years now. The chef's mission statement is simple: to bring genuine Argentine asado, meat grill, to London, and in that they most definitely succeed. There's just one small room with wooden tables and chairs and the open grill sizzling in the back in the laidback style you see throughout Buenos Aires. The signature dish is the parillada, a selection of meats, cheese and vegetables from the grill with excellent morcilla (black pudding) and mollejas (sweetbreads). It's massive however, and if you're not starving, order a few smaller dishes to share. The wine list is entirely Argentine with some very reasonably priced Malbec.


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Mark Hix is a brilliant and likeable British chef, who has championed British produce across all his restaurants (The Ivy, Scott's, The Rivington). Hix Oyster and Chop House was his first solo venture - now which are numerable - and remains a staple on the London dining scene. Situated near the historic Smithfield Market, which still supplies most London restaurants to this day, the building was originally a sausage factory and then a fish restaurant. The refurbishment has kept the marble oyster bar, the tiled walls and linen tablecloths to create an elegant yet unfussy British dining room. This is British comfort food executed to its best - roast chicken, ox cheek, oysters, rabbit terrine etc. - with carefully sourced ingredients throughout.


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This wins the prize for most interesting chef proprietor and food! If you don't like offal, you might be put off, but in these times of waste not want not, and for people that do enjoy crunching their way through every imaginable part of an animal, a visit to London would be crowned by a meal here. Set in what was once a smokehouse / townhouse, in beautiful and historic Clerkenwell, the menu will definitely keep you talking long after you've hung up your napkin. St John's has often been credited with rethinking British food, it's part comfort food, part new / strange taste experience, rolled into a very successful package. Peruse for example, sausages and snails, chitterlings and dandelion greens, mutton and turnips, roast suckling pig, or pigeon and trotter pie. Before you judge, sample the kitchen's skill, and your tastes may just change for good. Other diners' already have. TUBE: Farringdon


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These steaks are worthy of the praise heaped upon them now for the best part of the last decade. The original Spitalfields location was opened by childhood friends Will Beckett and Huw Gott in 2006, and soon word was out about the quality of their Ginger Pig-sourced, charcoal-grilled, grass-fed North Yorkshire steak. This Seven Dials location has more of a gentleman's club vibe with an excellent destination cocktail bar to match. Turn to the chalkboard to see what cuts are available that evening, and come early if you want the full choice as certain steaks sell out fast. The early dining Express Menu (2 courses, £24) allows those without the pay cheque to have a taste of these dictionary-thick cuts of meat.


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Meet Tyler Wetherall

Tyler Wetherall is a freelance writer specialising in travel, food & drink, covering topics as varied as narcs in the Colombian jungle to cocktail drinking in Cuba. Tyler has lived in London...  More About Tyler

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