Popseye, Highgate Hill, food review
- Credit: Archant
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.
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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.
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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