The Matrix is now 20 years old, which makes me feel approximately 120 years old. The film has always been one of my favourites – from the revolutionary use of bullet time to the epic martial arts choreography.
There is one scene in particular which has always stuck with me. It’s when the character of Cypher is undertaking an illicit face-to-face negotiation with Agent Smith. They meet in a plush restaurant within the Matrix – crisp white table cloths, sterling silver cutlery, a harp player. Cypher is chomping on a succulent steak, drinking a velvety red wine from a Riedel glass. “I know this steak doesn't exist,” he says. “I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realise? Ignorance is bliss.”
I can’t watch the scene without salivating: the slight chew, the tenderness, the juiciness. It’s enough to make the man turn his back on his friends, to forget all he’s learnt, to give up on life as he knows it. Now that must be good steak.
And I think I might have found the real-world equivalent. A 35-day aged, shorthorn beef tomahawk from Gaisgill Row Farm in the Lake District. It’s everything you could want from a steak and more – indeed, that’s why you have to share it.
It’s just one of the hearty choices available at Jason Atherton’s latest restaurant, The Betterment at The Biltmore hotel. His latest opening, situated on Grosvenor Square, is not a steak restaurant – but the meat here is definitely one of the star attractions.
It’s enough to make the man turn his back on his friends, to forget all he’s learnt, to give up on life as he knows it
Roasted over embers, the tomahawk is bursting with flavour – you can almost taste the early morning dew on the Cumbrian pastures.
To complete the Matrix scene, you need a comparable red wine. And that’s where 2016 Stag's Leap 'Artemis' comes in. This cabernet sauvignon from Napa beat a host of French equivalents in a prestigious blind tasting recently – it’s thick, rich and has a decadently silky finish.
It’s an excellent match with the steak, but also went well with other highlights from executive chef Paul Walsh’s new menu – including a brown crab starter and a baked Ribblesdale goat’s curd cheesecake for dessert. The latter comes deconstructed, with autumn fruit and gingerbread on the side. It is an epic dessert – and best shared unless you want a coronary.
But it’s the steak I’ll remember. Ignorance may be bliss, but so is 35-day-aged shorthorn.
The Betterment, 44 Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, London W1K 2HP; 020 7596 3200; thebettermentmayfair.com