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Hawksmoor - Veni Vidi Vici

Rating: 89.
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"It was an inauspicious start. A few days after signing a twenty-year lease on a failing Turkish restaurant at the wrong end of a traffic-clogged street in East London, a bank loan we desperately needed fell through. On the same day we discovered that the site didn't actually have planning permission to be a restaurant". This is a quote from the cookbook Hawksmoor at Home, but there is no need to worry: owners and founders Will Beckett and Huw Gott and head-chef Richard Turner have since conquered the London dining scene with their British steakhouse Hawksmoor. The first steakhouse, Hawksmoor Spitalfields was opened in 2006. A second branch, Hawksmoor Seven Dials, followed in November 2010 and it was just last October that they opened their third branch, Hawksmoor Guildhall.

Hawksmoor Spitalfields and Seven Dials are open from Monday till Sunday (no dinner on Sunday) and Guildhall is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from Monday till Friday. All branches have a bar and an a la carte menu. Obviously the main focus of the menu is steaks (dry-aged for at least 35 days) and it features cuts like Porterhouse, T-bone, Chateaubriand and Bone-in prime rib. All meat comes from North Yorkshire Longhorn cattle, the oldest pure breed in Britain and also a Heston Blumenthal favourite. The menu also features some other dishes like grilled fish, chicken and lobster and the burgers on the bar menu are among the best burgers you can get in London: they rank highly on many London top 10 burger lists. I had lunch there on Monday 9 April 2012, it was my second visit.

I started off with a wonderful Marmalade cocktail (gin, campari, lemon juice, homemade orange bitters and English marmalade) in the bar.

My starter was Smoked eel and ham hock salad. A nice crisp salad of water cress, mint, finely chopped shallot, fresh peas, croutons. Both the smoked eel and ham hock were fantastic and the poached egg on top was wonderful. A proper salad, full of flavour, good textures and a nice light dressing.

On the the piece de resistance: a Chateaubriand of 800 gr. Hawksmoor only serves quite large cuts of beef. On the day I had lunch there this was the smallest cut mr X and I could order. A sensational medium-rare steak, succulent, juicy but still with a bit of texture and a absolutely marvelous charred crust. Faultless seasoning too. Even though this 800 gr Chateaubriand was obviously too much for the two of us, I can understand why they only serve their beef in such large portions: this is the only way to get absolutely perfectly cooked beef. This beef would certainly get a 100 point rating from me, but if there are only two of you, it requires a supernatural appetite to actually eat it all.

The beef was amazing on its own but it also went very well with the sauces we had ordered: bearnaise, bone marrow gravy and Stilton hollandaise. All three were wonderful, the bone marrow gravy was rich and sticky and both the bearnaise and hollandaise had a lovely consistency. To top it off we had terrific beef dripping chips and a delicious macaroni cheese.

Pudding, I couldn't possible leave without pudding. Sticky toffee sundae, a delightful sundae with vanilla ice cream, toffee sauce, whipped cream, dried fruit, and pieces of sticky toffee pudding. Rich and very indulgent.

They say meat is a male thing? Whilst I will maintain that women can cook a decent steak too, Will Beckett, Huw Gott and Richard Turner clearly have created a wonderful restaurant where you can have the ultimate steak and then some. This is not just about understanding ingredients or beef, this is about wanting to deliver great food that is perfectly at one with itself. The food is exactly what it should be and what it aims to be. Steaks don't get better than this and if I were a Longhorn cow I would want to end up on a plate in this restaurant too. I would not have died in vain.

Hawksmoor (Seven Dials) on Urbanspoon

Posted 24-04-2012


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