Alfredo’s, then a little S&M (the former Sausage & Mash café, that is): as Islington landmarks go, this position is a prime cut, now carved out by Meat People. The 1920s Grade II-listed building with its tiled ceiling, wooden panelling and steel-framed windows still evokes the ocean-liner era, even with its vibrant yellow banquettes.
The current trend for steak and burger places means that competition in now hotter than a Josper grill. Meat People is no Hawksmoor or Meat Liquor, though – it’s a neighbourhood joint.
We opted for the Meat People Platter, a board bearing a selection of their main courses: slow-grilled beef short ribs, onglet steak and Iberico pork. The standout piece was the onglet, tender and yielding and cooked medium-rare as requested. The other two cuts had had a less profitable time on the grill. The pork was too blackened – the charring overpowered rather than offset the cut’s underlying flavour. The rib meat required a few chews too many, but the chimichurri garnish was good.
Beetroot and a handful of broad beans, although incongruously cold, nicely accompanied the pan-fried sea bream. The most exciting part of the dish was the huacaina sauce, a Peruvian mix that included white cheese and yellow chilli.
This is not a Latin American restaurant, but the chef happens to be Argentinian. A South American influence continued into the light desserts. Slices of caramelised banana were joined by a creamy scoop of dulce de leche ice cream, and slivers of lime rind brought alive a pear poached in Malbec, cinnamon and star anise. A filo tower with whipped cream and fruit compote had surprising finesse for a steakhouse.
This is a steakhouse, so it’s no surprise the sole vegetarian option is an uninspired mushroom risotto.
The quality of steaks in London at the moment is so high that standing out might be difficult for Meat People. But if it concentrates on making sure the standard of meat and cookery is consistently good, the carnivores of Islington may never have to leave N1.