Angie Sammons discovers slaughter in the suburbs
My favourite story about steak - ok, my only story about steak - goes back a few years and is all about the then head chef at a certain high end Liverpool restaurant.
A “tie-less oik” (not my words) had requested his £30 slab of aged, grass-fed Angus fillet served “well done”. This is something, I understand, that any chef with a modicum of care will balk at and is, indeed, often harder than it sounds to achieve, depending on the quality of the meat.
Minutes after it went out from the pass, it came back with complaints. Back onto the griddle it went for another four-minute searing. Out it went again and once more came back, this time with insults AND complaints. So our man threw it into a chip pan of boiling fat and got on with something else for a bit. Needless to say, the customer was delighted with the result. As for the chef, he was last seen cooking for a Premier League football team where they undeniably like things redder.
...his exasperated and overworked chef/boss sent a 10-inch knife whizzing between their shoulders
Tales like this are what helped shoot the late Anthony Bourdain to fame with his gripping best-seller Kitchen Confidential, and we love hearing them. Just last week, an off duty waiter regaled me with his memory of the night at a Lark Lane restaurant when his exasperated and overworked chef/boss, failing to catch the attention of two dullard underlings, sent a 10-inch knife whizzing between their shoulders, embedding itself in the wooden block they were chatting over. Spirited chefs often make for spirited food.
I have no such sexy anecdotes concerning Childwall. In this poshest of suburbs, raw energy is not something that obviously pulsates out of the Fiveways roundabout - unless you happen to find yourself in a road rage incident.
Now to L16, where nobody can hear you scream, comes slaughter in the form of a restaurant that takes bovine matters to a new level in Liverpool.
Macello (charmingly, it means “abattoir” in Italian) Meat House is a destination for flesh, footballers and the bloodthirsty. Sitting on quiet Childwall Abbey Road, it is no place for the meek, but it is a place for waitresses and there is a slightly questionable advert in the window which invites ladies to apply for a job there.
Imagine a butchers shop with luxury padding, for once inside the centrepiece is a counter with various sides of meat on display. T-bones, rib eyes and sirloins are presented whole and at different stages of maturity. Age is prized here and you’d better go in with deep pockets and a firm commitment if you want to appreciate it. We do not know how much the by now chocolate coloured, 32-day aged prime rib is going to cost until it is cut and weighed. £35 for 500g is the answer.
With the flesh whisked away to be dealt with elsewhere we get on with things from a menu which oscillates into various foreign territories with exotic sounding results. Seabass Messina, Palawan vegetables and, in our case, good Hailsham prawns (£7) served in some thick house recipe sauce and a bizarre line up of strawberries.
There is nothing souffle-like about Persian souffle (£4.75). Rather, it’s a very fetching mix of mushrooms and spinach which is unusual and quite luscious.
Beef Paris (£18) comprising julienne strips of meat in what is described as a creamy, demi-glace sauce, might not be the thing for a hot summer night, nor is its presentation particularly artful, But that’s not the point and it delivers with some lovely mouthwatering flavours.
They’ve been well advised on wine too and a bottle of Rioja Crianza (£27) is as brooding as a bull.
Then its time for the main event and a performance from the chef which wouldn’t be out of place on Turkey’s Got Talent. The rib, now seared, returns to the room, alongside a portable stove and a scorching skillet. He poses with it. First the bone is removed and cast into the iron pan. With flourish he takes the knife and ploughs it into the flesh, one thick pink slice after another, all belying the initial swarthy hue made from a month-long assault of oxygen on enzymes.
Onto the heat it goes for its final sear, and more drama from a deluge of Macello sauce.
Disappointingly, by now, it has lost some of its blush, which our oik would undoubtedly approve of. But the taste remains complex, the protein and fats broken down to produce natural glutamate, found in soy sauce and parmesan cheese and essential to umami. Bacteria has also done its work, attacking the connective tissues, oxidizing the fat and turning beast into tender beauty.
A dish of mixed vegetables had a strange, sharp taste to them and were left uneaten. And they also failed to mention that there were sautéed potatoes with the beef Paris which meant we ordered more.
I couldn’t help feeling that Macello is a concept that belongs in the city centre but maybe they prefer the secluded nature of Childwall and the opportunity it has given all those Premiership players, Emre Can, Alberto Moreno and Sadio Mane among them, to dine in selfie, knobhead-free privacy.
The chips are good too.
Macello Meathouse, 16 Childwall Abbey Rd, L16 0JN Tel: 0151 722 2575
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Prawns 7; Persian souffle 8; beef Paris 8; prime rib 7; chips 8, vegetables 3, sautéed potatoes 7
Drama meets diligence
Slaughter in the suburbs