Beef wellington is quite simple at its heart: rosy, tender beef fillet; a deeply savoury and earthy mushroom duxelles; maybe a pancake, or similar, to shield the beef, and crisp, burnished puff pastry. Madeira sauce; horseradish; maybe some truffle. It’s a symbol of celebration, excess, luxury — loosely, stress on loose — tied to 1815, national pride, beating the French at their own culinary game, all things that British restaurants were desperate to do in the 1980s through early 2000s. It’s history. It’s aristocracy. It’s money.
Given it is now 2021, and two of those three things — excessive beef eating, gastronomic excess as the lone symbol of the gourmet, being a bit nationalist — are no longer publicly acceptable, beef wellington looks, honestly, quite weird. Outdated, even. But no: its smaller, more nimble cousins, the pie and the pithivier are deeply en vogue, and this renaissance, combined with a newish emphasis on craft, detail, and intricacy that Instagram really loves, puts a whole new identity on the beef wellington. It’s an it dish, for chefs and kitchens as much as diners, an opportunity to deliver spectacle. In that spirit, here are London’s best beef wellingtons, and one wildcard from the sea.Read More