Supermarkets have their place, although I wish it weren’t so prominent. We’ve grown to become so dependant on them. Small suppliers and shops can’t compete, and so we become a shopping monoculture. But then, in a recession, we become more careful about how we spend our money, and that doesn’t mean that we buy cheaper, but we seek better value for money, and we like to cook at home. Enter the East London Steak Co.
I first came across them when they opened last year and my interest was immediately piqued when I heard that the head chef of Hawksmoor, Richard Turner was at the helm. Several deliveries later, I am now a devoted customer. These guys know what they are doing, they source very well, and each box comes with the provenance of the steak detailed – the breed of the cow (which changes week to week), when the steak was cut and by whom.
I especially love that the breed changes. I have had Dexter and Highland breeds in recent boxes and it’s a treat to explore the range of flavours. One of my big beefs with the supermarkets (pardon the pun), is that they have reduced everything to one bland and generic flavour for meat, dairy and all other fresh produce, when in reality the location and breed of an animal affects the flavour of the output, whether that is the milk, cheese or the meat. In fact for milk, the flavour changes depending on the time of day the cow is milked, and this in turn affects cheese, but that’s a post in itself.
I started with an appetiser box which offered a selection of steaks, all of them bone in, including a bone in fillet, not a cut I would normally go for but this steak was a breath stealer. The rib eye was beautifully marbled and rich, and was perfect with a homemade chimmichurri sauce. I was impressed, and I was sold.
The next box explored some of the cheaper cuts that needed longer cooking or a bit more care, my favourite ones. Bone in shin became a wondrous ragu (and comes in at a bargain £8 for 2kg). I hand chopped the meat for the slow cooked melt in the mouth ragu, scooped out the marrow and added it for extra richness, then made a gorgeous home made stock with the bone. I’ve also tried the feather blade, bavette (brilliant bargain steak cut – definitely try this if you haven’t yet). Rump camp, a wonderfully tender cut which the Brazilians call Picanha, I served with a feijoada. All of those lovely steak recipes soon.
My next delivery will contain marrow shafts, short ribs and more braising cuts, and I can’t resist some more of their lovely marbled rib eye. I think a roasting cut needs to be tried too.
The appetiser box – 1 x 400g Rib steak bone-in, 1 x 250g Sirloin, 1 x 250g bone-in fillet, 1 x 400g T-bone, 1 x 250g rump steak and 4 x 180g ‘Black Label’ Burgers – comes in at £37 including delivery). The burgers come from the guy behind the magnificent Hawksmoor burger too, so as you may expect, these are very good indeed.
These guys do flavour in spades and they also know what they are talking about. The prices are also extremely fair and accessible, when you consider the quality of the meat. The steaks are superb and braising cuts are a bargain. Don’t forget some marrow bones, £6 for 2kg they are a fantastic secret ingredient in any beef sauces, but are perfect roasted by themselves with some parsley, parmesan and breacrumbs crisped on top!
Delivery is super quick, arranged in time slots to suit you, and the driver will text you when they are 20 minutes away so you can make sure that you are at home. Do try them, you won’t be disappointed.