For humans, there’s nothing too glamourous about aging. Slowly getting wrinkly, balding and losing a few marbles; if you hung us up for a month in a controlled humid environment, it probably wouldn’t do much good. However, for meat, this controlled decay process enhances and unlocks new flavours and textures – more than you could imagine.
In a similar way to how luxury restaurants became cured meat-obsessed over the past decade, dry aging beef has made its return from lonesome butchers and steakhouses, to its new home of high-end restaurants. People are also taking dry aging to new heights, going against the original 20-30 day maturing process as butchers have always done. Instead, modish chefs are pushing limits with aging periods of 45 days, 150 days or if you’re the famous Carnevino Steakhouse Las Vegas’ head chef – 8-month-old dry aged steak.
There’s more than meets the eye to dry aging beef. It takes knowledge and skill to ensure the environment is perfect in order for succulent flavours and textures to be released, so it’s safe to say there’s more to the art than hanging some meat on a hook and leaving it to rot.
The science behind dry aging beef is an intense cycle of bacteria manifesting and building layers of different mold, which after broken into reveals juicy and very much un-mouldy meat. An aging room should have a clean smell, and if there are sour notes then the meat has been improperly stored and is not suitable for serving.
Underneath that intense smell is the water seeping out and concentrating the flavour, carbs are turned to sugar making it sweeter, connective tissue is weakened which gives it that tender bite we can all appreciate. But one of the most important chemical reactions that takes place is the protein that is broken down into amino acids, umami included. Umami deepens the rich and concentrated flavour of aged beef and tingles the tastebuds, providing that sensory pleasure we can recognize in every bite of a steak.
We pride ourselves at The Hook for dry aging all of our meat for a minimum of 28 days in our own dry age cabinet. Our meat is aged on the bone to intensify the flavour, and we serve a variety of different beef cuts. Steaks include fillet, picanha rump & rib-eye, large steak cuts of côte de bœuf, sirloin on the bone and chateaubriand are available. Even our ‘Smokey Joe’s Burger’ patties are dry aged. We have an extensive and ever changing menu of high quality steak cuts, just ask your waiter for details.
The Hook & Sling welcomed new employee, Igor Racu, in March earlier this year. Igor who is originally from Iași, Romania moved to Guernsey three and a half years ago, where he held the position of Bar Manager in two well established restaurants and bars, Mora and Red.
Before emigrating to Guernsey, Igor owned his own hospitality company where he taught and managed a host of skills for those entering or struggling in the hospitality industry. Creating food and cocktail menus as well as training waiters and bartenders, Igor brings a fresh perspective on leadership to The Hook staff.
The general nature of Guernsey nightlife means the demand at bars on Friday and Saturday nights are continuous, where everybody wants to be served quickly and at the highest quality. With The Hook’s lively atmosphere Igor says he does not aim to put on a show with tricks, but entertain patrons with high quality drinks.
Igor described the ambience of The Hook as ‘Friday everyday’, and when it comes to the bar’s fast paced environment, Igor said his ‘patience’ was his greatest strength as a bartender.
‘Behind the bar you need to be effective and provide good products and fast service.’
The Hook recently launched its latest cocktail menu which was concocted by Igor and the team and inspired by traditional Japanese flavours, to complement the Japanese cuisine. The cocktails which have gained the most popularity, pictured below, are ‘The Pokémon’, consisting of strawberry & cucumber shrub, aloe vera, vodka and while strawberry liqueur, along with ‘The Sudoku’, made using rhubarb gin, sweet vermouth, Campari bitter and rhubarb liqueur.
Igor, who describes himself as a ‘competitive perfectionist’, said he prefers to switch up the menu every 4-6 months and aims to target all different types of taste preferences on the menu.
To gather ideas for up and coming cocktails along with names, Igor goes into a deep state of meditation and notes down his thoughts to experiment. Satisfaction is a large part of his cocktail creations, which is why if a cocktail is substandard, he will go back to the drawing board until he’s happy to serve his creation to customers.
Igor and the team at The Hook and Sling are constantly creating new cocktails inspired by current trends. If you have a personal preference the team will be more than happy to assist and create something entirely unique!