John Stone Dinner at Stratos - Le Royal Meridien, Abu Dhabi
|The decadent setting that is Stratos|
|Allan Morriss, MD of John Stone.|
|Chef Justin, a blowtorch and a coffee maker.|
|John Stone Steak American|
|Creating the sauce for the slow cooked sirloin|
|Slow cooked John Stone Sirloin|
In the sauce, Chef has sliced truffle as well as added white truffle pureé, quail egg, langoustine, XO sauce and dashi stock amongst others. A highlight for me is Chef's use of wood sorrel, something akin to cress I guess that brings a lemony taste. This is a very Asian dish, notwithstanding the many ingredients. It remains subtle with nothing overpowering. This is illustrated by the fact that he does not use salt in the dish. Instead, he uses dehydrated olives to bring a hint of saltiness to bear on the dish. As for the beef, well, sirloin has a denseness I have come to enjoy. It has a tight texture and much beefier taste than the tenderloin. The delicate flavours on the plate really accentuate the beef.
The wine for the evening, A Norton Collecion Varietales Mabec 2013 does not quite meet the level of the supreme John Stone beef. Of course, restaurants are also about balancing books, but I cannot help thinking a Bordeaux wine would be an excellent accompaniment. I find this Malbec not full enough and also too young. Memories of a South African wine I had a week ago come flooding back to me: the Meerlust Rubicon. Or even a Pomerol would really have done the beef justice.
Next time, I hope.
As I wait for my next course, I have a chat with Allan Morriss who sees the education of diners as the key to getting more restaurants to try Irish grass fed beef. It is after all, a more sustainable option, something relevant in today's world. Abu Dhabi has some excellent steakhouses, but a look at their menus will reveal a one dimensional focus. I think chefs know how good Irish beef is, but your average guest does not. Therein lies the issue. With the climate that Ireland has, allowing the ideal place for grass to grow, you have cows with no shortage of grazing possibilities. There is something obviously natural about cows feeding on, wait for it, grass!
Our musings are cut short with the presentation of the 3rd course, the John Stone Rossini - Beef Rossini, a dish that was apparently created by French master chef Marc-Antoine Careme for music composer Gioachino Rossini. Chef Julian could have been tempted to really put his mark on a dish like this by outrageously changing it, but he does not. Sometimes tradition is good, and a dish is well left alone. This is my dish of the night. The Anna potato could not have been cooked better. The gently sauteéd spinach too, while soft, has not lost its flavour through over sautéing - brilliant. As for the foie gras sitting atop the gorgeously pink coloured beef, it too is just right. The beef? Exceptional - Slow cooked for 3 1/2 hours and then lightly seared, giving it a dynamic colour contrast and texture of course. Finally, a generous and flavorful sea of truffle jus (What else?) is what holds all these seemingly incongruous elements together. Magnifique!
This evening was as much about John Stone as it was about Chef Justin. Allan Morriss would agree that as good as his beef was, it was the chef that really brought it to life on the plate. It was an evening in which the relationship between a product and the chef was really driven home. It takes only a few seconds for a chef to take a fine sirloin and ruin it. That was not the case tonight. Perfectly cooked. A very personalized dining experience full of drama and theatre. Images of Chef with his blow torch and coffee make will stay with me a long time. As beef eaters in the capital are encouraged and taught to open themselves to the obvious strengths of Irish grass fed beef, I look forward to walking into a steakhouse and being given a genuine choice of beef, not just the ubiquitous American and Australian brands. The Irish cows are coming, and you are going to love them.
The low down
Le Royal Meridien,
800 101 101
John Stone: http://johnstonebeef.com/
Watch this space for a full review of Stratos*.