Food and Drink

Five pages of ideas to make the most of your Sun­day

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Contents | Photograph Of The Week - Joanna Blyth­man is the Guild of Food Writ­ers Food Writer of the Year 2018

In this age of squeamish­ness about meat, this dis­so­nant world where super­mar­kets sell “no touch, tear and tip” pouches of chicken breast to cus­tomers who want to eat an­i­mal flesh but flinch at touch­ing it, I mar­vel at the doughty Tiffney’s be­cause it makes no con­ces­sions to this sen­si­tive con­stituency.

As we pe­ruse the menu, up comes the Maitre D’ bear­ing a board with var­i­ous steak cuts on it. Ve­g­ans and faint­hearted eaters who feel in­tim­i­dated by any­thing more gory than a sliced avo­cado might faint on the spot, but then they won’t come here in the first place un­less they re­ally aren’t pay­ing at­ten­tion. Tiffney’s has carved out its niche in Glas­gow as “the home of dryaged beef”.

This claim is staked on the fact that it se­lects the finest Scotch prime beef from the North East and Spey­side then ages it “to ten­der per­fec­tion” – for 70 or more days – in its own hu­mid­ity-con­trolled meat locker.

Be­ing an om­ni­vore who rarely eats steak – slow-cooked meat wins out for me ev­ery time – I find be­ing talked through the dif­fer­ence be­tween rib-eye, cote de boeuf, tom­a­hawk, T-bone and so on in­struc­tive, and vis­ually, this care­fully butchered grass-fed beef, with its mar­bling of creamy fat through dark, firm flesh, has the time­less beauty of a still life by Floris van Dyck. Tiffney’s cap­tures that se­ri­ous Old Mas­ter mood: shad­owydark with pools of inky light that of­fer dis­creet anonymity, par­tially dis­closed views that tail off into the back­ground.

Like all the best steak spots, Tiffney’s as­sumes that you’re there to spend on ev­ery­thing, not just steak. Apart from soup, starters are in the £10-£12 bracket and in­clude pro­tein-in­ten­sive carpac­cio, veal sweet­breads and wood pi­geon salad. But our ten­der con­sti­tu­tions can’t cope with dou­ble meat, and even the wimp­i­est starters we se­lect are fill­ing: skate wing in a but­tery sauce with hazel­nuts that’s pushily salty even be­fore you get to the sam­phire and capers, and a hulk­ing great crisp-fried soft shell crab on a mer­cury pud­dle of com­pe­tent squid ink risotto.

We share a £40 T-bone steak, al­though we get the feel­ing that this isn’t whole­heart­edly en­cour­aged, but it’s more than enough for both of us. It’s an in­ter­est­ing cut be­cause you get to com­pare and con­trast the sir­loin (you can al­most cut it with your fork), and the fil­let (so ten­der it al­most melts). Im­mac­u­lately cooked to medium rare, you could take a mea­sur­ing tape to the even­ness of the sear­ing on each side that en­closes the rosy blush in­side.

In the mouth it lives up to its pre­mium billing; we can be­lieve this is a splen­didly reared and metic­u­lously ma­tured beast. So we savour it and ig­nore the pep­per­corn sauce, which is gloopy and ridicu­lously salty, and don’t fin­ish the fat chips stacked up like wooden tum­bling blocks – some char­ac­ter­less mod­ern va­ri­ety I’d guess, at any rate, bland.

As a nod to the veg­etable world we’ve or­dered pur­ple sprout­ing broc­coli, but like the grilled cherry toma­toes that come with the steak, they taste as if some­one’s hand has slipped with the salt cel­lar. Need­less to say, we’ve de­clined the side or­ders of hag­gis and prawns.

Some­thing makes me go for the cheese plate; in ret­ro­spect, not a great idea. Un­like the glo­ri­ous beef, it’s pro­saic: un­ex­cep­tional Brie, two more ubiq­ui­tous Scot­tish cheeses, a smoked cheese in wax. The crack­ers are of su­per­mar­ket mixed se­lec­tion box stan­dard, but mind you, the baby

Ve­g­ans who feel in­tim­i­dated by any­thing more gory than a sliced avo­cado might faint on the spot

oat­cakes and quince paste are fine. Let’s draw a veil over the frozen grapes, a ma­jor, den­tal nerve-tin­gling aber­ra­tion.

Tarte Tatin is steep at £9 a pop. Its fluted flaky pas­try is al­most dis­solv­ing be­cause it’s top-heavy with half an un­der­cooked ap­ple, but on the up side, it comes with a most re­spectable vanilla ice cream.

There’s no doubt that Tiffney’s serves a great steak, al­beit it doesn’t ap­pear to be re­motely in­ter­ested in the in­creas­ingly favoured “cheaper” steak cuts. But then this is a steak­house for con­ser­va­tive eaters who don’t want any shocks. It comes at a price, and you’ll need a stout di­ges­tive sys­tem to do jus­tice to it.

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