Restaurant menus have been rotated from portrait to landscape while the online menu I'm looking at right now starts with dessert, then has wines by the glass, and then moves to starters, steaks, market potatoes before finishing with soups & salads, mains and sides. Are they trying just a little too hard to be different I wonder?
On the starters, there's Kansas City Steak Soup which sounds kind of fun, so tempted, but with a steak coming for the main, even for me that's too much red. Jumbo Prawns sound appealing but priced at £25, they must continue to only sound appealing. I opt for the JW Iceberg Wedge with blue cheese and crispy bacon (£8 on my bill, shown as £9 on online menu). When it comes, it is, I must admit, the best Iceberg Wedge I've had put in front of me. From the moment it is set down, you can see it's the business, everything in great proportions, plenty of crispy bacon, big lumps of blue cheese, a smother of blue cheese sauce, and it tastes as good as it looks: the flavours of everything come through. How many such wedges appear in other restaurants all wedge, the blue cheese and bacon seeming an afterthought. This was served by a kitchen that cares, and a kitchen with pride.
For my main, I ordered the 14oz Ribeye which I was pleased to see came under the banner of 'Butcher's British Cuts' rather than USDA beef which is also a prominent feature of the menu. When my waitress delivers the plate, she insisted I cut through it before she left the table to ensure it was cooked how I wanted it (medium rare; I did, it was). Slightly caught off guard by this, on reflection, I think I like this approach, it's certainly a confident approach and displays a keenness for the food to please.
The steak was very good and you could feel the quality of the meat, but somehow, it just missed out on being for me a truly memorable steak. Maybe it was a small seasoning issue falling it short on delivering the biggest flavours, or maybe it's a personal thing, for our preferred breed is without doubt Belted Galloway which we think has the best taste of all beef, here they serve Aberdeen Angus; if I had to guess, it would be that. I feel however I'm nitpicking, but if you're reading this post, I'm guessing you want to know.
Finally for dessert, it had to be cheesecake. I'm initially shocked by its £12 price tag, they claim it to be the best outside of America(!), but when it arrives, it did actually stun me in to silence. It's not a slice of cheesecake, it is a whole cheesecake. This could actually serve four people. They suggest you share it, they weren't kidding but if like me you don't, and if like me you can't eat it all (I'm at least pleased to say that), they offer to box it up for you to take home. £12 is actually very good value indeed for this. But is it the best cheesecake in the UK? No, but it is pretty good and there's a lot of biscuit crumb here if you like that in a cheesecake (I do).
Two more things to mention. First, the service was excellent. Lots of staff, all working hard, working as a team and really seem interested in providing a strong customer experience with sincerity. Service was pretty much ideal. Second, JWS has understandably been accused of being expensive (which it is), but that needs context, for it is no more expensive than other prime steakhouses. My 14oz Ribeye was £29, my chips £4; at Goodman Canary Wharf, the menu listed 400g (14.1oz) USDA ribeye is £32 and chips are £5. I'm betting too that Park Lane rents are a lot more than Canary Wharf rents, highlighted by the fact that the 14oz Ribeye at CUT at 45 Park Lane is £46, chips a remarkable £7.
JW Steakhouse then is very good, and on Park Lane, it also represents value, really. The quality is there, the staff are good, the surround is comfortably and recognisably steakhouse. To be honest, we never return to a steakhouse as a rule because Goodman is our go to place if we want steak and we're not blogging. As for here, I still think Goodman is better, but I could imagine returning to JWS, and that's about as high a compliment as I can pay a steakhouse; sometimes, it's nice to be surprised (and if only for size alone, I will be thinking about that cheesecake for some time to come).