Gary Rhodes’ new steakhouse, Rhodes Twenty10, makes its debut during the first week of Ramadan
No one could accuse Gary Rhodes of being camera shy. Whether in print or on TV, the famed chef and restaurateur has been primping in front of the camera for years. He’s not fussy about how you pose him; half naked, menacingly clutching a meat cleaver… you ask, he’s happy to try it.
While I wait to meet Rhodes in the kitchen of his new restaurant, Rhodes Twenty10, I’m trying to visualise how we’ll shoot him this time. The restaurant itself is out; it’s still being built. While the dining room is under plastic wrap, I can tell that – though understated compared to Rhodes Mezzanine – it is a more decadent environ than the average Dubai steakhouse.
The venue marks a slight departure for the chef; while it’s still a high-end venue, the focus is primarily steak (that he opens during Ramadan, he claims, is a coincidence). I was naively imagining we’d shoot some dark, brooding images of Rhodes hacking into a huge cut of beef, or perhaps leaning against a cow carcass. Yet the kitchen is bright: achingly bright. And it’s clean. Naturally, there are no carcasses hanging around waiting to be sliced. I have to remind myself this is the kitchen of a Michelin-starred chef, not Sweeney Todd.
When Rhodes arrives, he’s all business.‘How do you want me?’ he asks. I try to explain the kind of shot I’m looking for: basically, just Gary with lots of meat. ‘I can’t tell you how many times a woman’s told me that,’ he responds with a wink, before breaking out into a sudden blush, as if he too was surprised by the comment. He quickly regains his composure and gets into position alongside a tray of choice cuts. He’s constantly adjusting his face and angles to make sure he’s hitting the light perfectly; in other words, he’s a pro. When we shoot the video segment for the Time Out website, in which he demonstrates how to cook the perfect burger, he’s more at home than ever.
But he loves his food even more than he loves the camera. When the burger is done, he’s like a child eager to show off his latest crayon masterpiece, except the dish that he has just created is sublime. His ‘burger’ is made from 100 per cent ground fillet. In place of a bun, he serves it on a sliver of potato roasted in duck fat, topped with a melting slice of foie gras and addictive shallot sauce.
It’s clear that to Gary, his two loves are actually quite similar. As far as he’s concerned, they’re both a form of entertainment. ‘Of course,’ he says, ‘I’m in the entertainment business. I want your time in my restaurant to be like you’re going to the theatre. You come to the theatre, you’re all excited, you’re waiting for it, what do you do? You sit at the bar, have a drink beforehand, you think, “What’s this show going to be like?” You take your seat, the curtain opens, the food arrives.’
To keep his customers entertained (or at least guessing), he’s added what he feels is another twist to the theme of his newest restaurant: he wants his customers to design the meal. He’ll provide a range of cuts to choose from, including half portions. Diners can also choose an unlimited number of sauces and butters, as well as a choice of sides.
‘There are several chefs who won’t accept a customer requesting a steak well done. In the ’80s and early ’90s in London – I won’t mention their names – they’d say, “Get them out of my restaurant, I won’t give it to them like that.” Hold on – you have the game wrong here. It’s not what you want to eat; you’re providing a service for what they want to eat. If someone comes up with an odd order, and says, “Can I have that grilled, and I’d like some fries and mash on the side, and some spinach and grilled tomatoes,” I might wonder what planet the guy is on, but at the end of the day I’m going to give it to him.’ In other words, he aims to please at any expense. Now that’s something worth sinking your teeth into.
Here are a few big-name restaurants due in the UAE. Brian Turner He’s already visited Dubai several times – we’ve heard the ever-jolly Ready, Steady, Cook star is set to unveil a restaurant in DIFC.
James Martin The rumour is that he’s just waiting to be asked. Come on, hoteliers, give the Saturday Kitchen host a restaurant.
Alan Yau The man behind Wagamama just launched an Abu Dhabi version of his Michelin-starred venture, Hakkasan.
Jamie Oliver The Naked Chef has supposedly signed a contract for a Jamie’s Italian Kitchen, likely to open at Dubai Festival City in October.
Getting your cut Gary Rhodes talks us through his favourite steaks and how to cook them
The cuts ‘You only have a few prime cuts that suit steaks,’ explains Rhodes. ‘As you get further into the rump area, the meat becomes tougher.’ For choice cuts, he explains, the torso is key.
Rib-eye ‘The more a muscle works, the more flavourful it’s going to be,’ says Rhodes. This is true of the rib-eye, the meat from the rib area of the cow. So while it’s won’t be as tender as the other cuts, it will be the most flavoursome. This, Rhodes says, is his favourite cut of meat. ‘I don’t know many chefs who wouldn’t go for that cut.’
Sirloin This cut sits in the back and is separated from the rib-eye by a bone. It doesn’t work quite as hard as the rib-eye, and it’s not quite as rich, or full-flavoured, but it has veins of fat running through it. These melt in the cooking process and break up the texture of the meat, making it more tender.
Fillet The fillet doesn’t have any fat marbling, but it is the most tender of the bunch because it’s an unused muscle. It sits behind the T-bone. ‘Basically, it doesn’t have to do any work. It just sits there, feeds, enjoys, and is a very happy piece of meat that stays so wonderful and tender,’ says Rhodes. Now that’s a description. The flavour of this cut is comparably mild, so it can handle a stronger sauce or butter as an accompaniment.
T-Bone This is the bone that separates the fillet and the sirloin. Basically, it’s a massive steak that includes both those cuts (perfect if you can’t make up your mind). Because the cooking time is different for both cuts, the sirloin side will be rarer than the more tender fillet side.
Before cooking your steak, make sure it’s at room temperature. This means removing it from the fridge at least an hour beforehand.
Seasoning Rhodes rubs a sprinkling of olive oil and pepper on both sides of the steak before cooking. However, he only salts one side, and that’s the side that hits the grill first.‘We all know what happens with salt: if you put it on a piece of meat, it’s going to draw the blood,’ he explains. ‘The one thing I want to do is contain the blood. The side I salt is cooked instantly. I don’t salt the other side until I’m ready to turn it on the grill. That way, when it turns over, the juices are sealed. Do it any other way and you’re losing half the juices’.
Cooking If your chosen cut contains a thick strip of fat, Rhodes advises cooking it on the fat side first. ‘This way, it helps to melt it a bit. Otherwise, the cut will be very, very chewy’. For a rare steak, cook it for about three minutes per side; for medium-rare, four to five minutes; for medium, six to seven minutes.
Resting Always let the meat relax for as long as it took to cook it, says Rhodes. That usually means waiting 10 to 12 minutes before serving.
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dr mustafa Aug 11, 2010 04:44 pm
The burger sounds delicious must drop in to try it
ps-thanks for the cooking tips Mr Rhodes!
jane Aug 11, 2010 12:16 am
I hope this restaurant is better than Tower 44 in London which was a complete disaster and we are still waiting a refund!!! Which was promised but never received! I have ate in the Mezanine and that was very good. I wish Gary good luck with this new venture