I was in Covent Garden to see Deathtrap at the Noel Coward Theatre (Simon Russell Beale, Jonathon Groff, well worth seeing…..) and had booked a post-theatre table at Hawksmoor as soon as I heard it was opening this week. Having spent some time looking at the menu online and salivating over the prospect of big juicy steaks I found that whilst the play was good my subconscious focus was definitely on dinner.
Hawksmoor is located in a converted disused brewery tucked away inconspicuously on the far corner of Langley street past the fluorescent glare of Cafe Pacifico and Pineapple Dance Studios, the restaurant and bar both have real character. Considering its central Covent Garden location you also know that people dining there are in there because they really want to be rather than because they wandered past it accidentally.I really loved the interior of Hawksmoor which whilst contemporary was all dark woods, blackbloards and low lighting (hence the lightly dodgy photo quality!). It made me wonder what it would have been like to dine in one of the Victorian steak clubs that Hawksmoor models itself on.
|Fancy gin cocktail|
The cocktail list moves away from the classics and the predictable and focuses more on old fashioned cocktails. A “fancy gin cocktail” consisted of gin, cane sugar and lime and was tasty, not overly sweet and really packed a powerful punch, it was quite reminiscent of New York style martinis.
|Not a great photo but nice lobster nonetheless!|
I ordered the half Devon Blue lobster with Hazelnut butter to start. I have to admit that the hazelnut was being very subtle indeed and had masqueraded itself very effectively as garlic butter. Since I love garlic butter this was not ultimately a problem but I remain intrigued as to what hazelnut tastes like with lobster. The lobster itself was really succulent, sweet and felt like a good size portion for its price (£15). I would definitely both recommend it and have it again.
H chose the bone marrow and slow cooked onions to start at £5.50. The onions had been cooked in beef dripping and were sensationally good. It came with slices of toasted sourdough bread to heap the onions and marrow onto before shovelling quickly into your mouth.
From a panopoly of steak options I went for a rib eye steak for my main topped with stilton hollandaise. The whole “subtle flavours” thing arose again at this point. Essentially if I had been doing the Masterchef taste chef on the sauce, stilton would not have featured on my list of perceived ingredients. It was still tasted an accomplished and tasty rendition of a hollandaise sauce but didn’t have the blue cheese flavour I’d been hoping for. The steak itself was cooked to perfection and had a nice flavour and more than met my appetite for a large slab of cow. The chargrill flavour that permeated both the lobster and my steak was full of flavour without being overpowering.
|D Rump + egg|
H ordered a 55 day hung D Rump on the basis that neither of us had ever eaten anything that had hung for that long before. At less than £20 for 400g it was an excellent choice and was a lovely cut. To be honest I kind of wished that I had ordered it too (despite my rib eye being lovely) as the grain of the meat was good and the depth of colour of the meat exceptional. I’m assured that the addition of two fried eggs for £3 was also well worth it.
We conducted a scientifically accurate* chip test between the beef dripping chips and the triple cooked chips (*not scientific really). The dripping chips were more like wedges and were, frankly, delicious. Crispy and rich on the outside but fluffy soft on the inside. Whilst the triple cooked chips were nice (and would have been more than acceptable had I never tried the beef chips) they didn’t rock my world so I know what I would have on a return visit to Hawksmoor. I still have a burnt mouth today from eating them too quickly!
|Beef & Liberty: excellent!|
Side orders of roasted field mushrooms and creamed spinach arrived. The field mushrooms were truly excellent and I could have merrily eaten a dish of them as a starter on another occasion. The spinach was, well, spinach. It was indeed creamed and perfectly presentable but as H said there was a “curious edge” to it that neither of us could pinpoint.
All in all portion sizes are huge and you will leave stuffed even if you only have a main course. I will definitely be visiting Hawksmoor again. The atmosphere was buzzy and a real mixed crowd from girls having gossipy dinners a deux to tables of macho guys phhwoaring over their steaks. The menu and style of Hawksmoor is not so dissimilar to that of Hix Oyster & Chop House but if I were to choose between them then Hawksmoor wins for me both in terms of food and atmosphere. I would love to visit with a group and order a giant cut from one of the blackboards regularly updated by waiters as steaks are purchased. 1.4kg of chateaubriand anyone?!