I don’t really put a lot of store by Zagat. I don’t understand how they do their food ratings and it just seems well, a bit American. And knowing what I know about the Palm in London, where it isn’t particularly popular, I didn’t have high hopes.
But we wanted a steak in the land of plenty and C pointed to the Zagat rating of 28. I’d been having a twitter conversation, earlier in the day, and we’d been discussing the merits of various London steakhouses and it had got me in the steak mood. Not only that, but @Palmlondon had joined in. And one of the interesting things they said was that whilst men tend to go for a New York strip, women generally go for a rib-eye. I do so hate being a cliché.
So we pull up the to valet parking, because this is America and no-one walks anywhere and you have to leave your car with a valet because there is nowhere to park. The steps to the front door are covered in some shabby, threadbare grey carpet and it looks a bit tired. I’m not a big fan of outdoor carpeting. I’m already thinking we’ve made a mistake.
And inside, it’s all that polished wood thing, the clubby atmosphere, green leather banquette seating, wooden ceilings, and ridiculously dark lighting, contrasting with the glaringly bright sun outside. It takes a few moments to acclimatise.
We have a drink at the bar. No bar snacks. Which is a good thing, given what’s to come.
I look at faded caricatures of celebrities I’ve never heard of and start to regret not putting my foot down and going for something a bit more happening, something Brazilian perhaps, something a bit less old people with coiffed hairdos (both sexes), eating at 6pm.
And a visit to to the utilitarian lavatories does nothing to allay my concerns. A strong smell of sewer and those plastic cubicles where you can see practically everything going on next door. Whether you want to or not. Old ladies’ shoes, with perforated leather, since you’re wondering. It was unexpectedly basic, given the front of house image. It needs a refit. And a new drain.
We sit in a banquette, behind an overweight middle-aged, badly dressed man with a woman he could only afford to hire by the hour. Short tight red dress, surgically enhanced, laughing in a chemically-induced sort of way and speaking with a heavy Russian accent, it was almost too good to be true. Dinner cabaret.
As I looked in fascination, they were brought the biggest lobster I have ever seen outside an aquarium. It must have been two foot long. With its tentacles (obviously still attached, as decoration) it must have been over three feet long.
Back to the menu. Steak and lots of it. I knew that to order a starter would have been too much, even for me, so we skipped. There are many different kinds of steak, and indeed lobster. And also that abomination known as surf and turf. Or surf n’turf. But that is for a different kind of diner.
True to cliché form, I order a bone-in rib-eye. 24oz. Plain. I could have had bearnaise, or a peppercorn sauce but I forgot to ask and they forgot to ask, so I didn’t. And Idaho baked potatoes. Not on the menu but on the menu for those who ask, apparently. Like us. And creamed spinach.
I said a reluctant no to the whipped goats cheese potatoes, and the half and half. Not milk, here, but half cottage fries, half fried onions. It seemed unnecessary. Greedy even. As if.
And the steak. Sadly, I have no photographs to show you. In the Stygian gloom, everything just looks brown. And I wish that you could see it, because it was truly a steak of magnificence. Probably the best steak I’ve ever eaten. It was well charred, properly salted and soft and melting in the middle. Fantastic flavour. I know it’s only a steak and there is a body of thought that says that steak restaurants are ridiculous and that it’s only steak etc. But even if it’s only steak, I would like it always to be only steak like the one here.
And I managed to demolish all 24 ounces without any problem, whilst C left a third of his NY strip, weighing in at a mere 18oz. Lightweight. I’m not sure what that says about me, but whatever it is, it’s not good.
And we looked at the menu again. I was doing that nonchalant thing, whilst secretly hoping that C would take responsibility and do the right thing. I expected him to crack in the face of the seven layer chocolate cake, because his dessert dial is stuck at 1980, but no. He is a man who knows when he has had enough. And has no dessert stomach. I was shamed into abstinence by his self control.
But you’ll be relieved to know that this morning, I have already demolished a tropical fruit plate as big as a table, with banana nut bread muffins and yogurt. Normal service has been resumed.