Popseye, Highgate Hill, food review
PUBLISHED: 17:31 12 November 2015 | UPDATED: 17:31 12 November 2015
The sharp new steak house could prove more than a match for Hawksmoor, writes Jon Dean.
A better steak than Hawksmoor? It’s a bold claim - but the kind you can make when you’ve been 20 years in the game and come from a family steeped in steak tradition.
Pope’s Eye (or PopesEye as it is properly known a Scots term for rump) is the work of James Hutchison whose dad has built a mini beef empire.
James has struck out on his own in the world of meat and getting to his first venutre requires a brisk climb up Highgate Hill. Once there you find a neat, comfortable little restaurant dominated by the family’s Highland heritage - including a magnificent whisky bar.
Firstly, this is one for the purists. They do vegetarian food, but you need to phone and order 24 hours in advance.
But when it comes to beef, it’s here in all its wonderful forms - all from north of the border and all very tempting.
There’s the popseye itself (a rump) sirloin, fillet, rib-eye and the hulking t-bone, or burgers if you prefer.
All steaks come with chips, bearnaise and every conceivable type of mustard. Sides are a salad, veg or mac and cheese.
One huge advantage of a smaller restaurant is James himself is on hand to offer expert advice on everything from a pre-dinner Scotch, to the excellent wine list (lashings of muscular reds) and, of course, the meat.
On his advice, I tried a huge, juicy sirloin cooked in the Pittsburgh style, crackling with chargrilled piquancy on the outside, tender on the inside with surrounding rind of fat. A magnificent mountain of meat.
My pregnant better half was forced to have her rib-eye more medium than she’d would normally like, but the quality of cut lent it a rich and satisfying flavour.
As an extra treat we were treated to a few ounces of ultra-scarce highland cow (the shaggy things with the horns) which had a gamey, smokey, almost venison like character. Only the chips were a bit of a let down - slightly over cooked - but to be honest, with all these lovingly-cooked steaks they were only dressing anyway. From a menu of four puds we were immensely pleased with the white chocolate cheesecake and left replete and happy.
Is it better than Hawksmoor? With a personal touch, fantastic steaks and without the expense account busting prices, it just might be...
36 Highgate Hill, London N19 5NL020 3601 3830
Mains: Steak from £12.45
Wine: from £15.50 a bottle
Children welcome: Yes
Disabled access: Yes
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Islington Gazette. Click the link in the orange box above for details.