“Flawless. The best steak you’ll find anywhere” Giles Coren
Will Beckett and Huw Gott opened the first Hawksmoor in September 2006 in a former kebab shop with a mere 60 covers in Spitalfields market. The concept was simple – well sourced steak, solid British fayre and contemporary cocktails, and it was an immediate success, receiving critical acclaim and lots of foot traffic. In the early days Hawksmoor’s drinks menu (including a famous reinvention of the marmalade cocktail) was arguably more well know than their food – head barman Nick Strangeway won numerous awards for his creative cocktails, including the Best Restaurant Bar the year Hawksmoor opened. They drafted in head chef Richard Turner in 2009 (he is also the brainchild of London’s meat and barbecue festival, Meatopia) and from there the Hawksmoor brand went from strength to strenth. Turner’s menu is still very meat and steak heavy, but over the past few years it has branched out into seafood, under the careful guidance of Mitch Tonks. They use Longhorn beef which is sustainably sourced from Tim Wilson’s Ginger Pig farm in North Yorkshire. He hangs the meat for 5 to 6 weeks (normal supermarket meat is hung for around 4 weeks) before it is delivered to the restaurant.
I went along to the Guildhall branch which is five minutes’ walk from Bank tube and has around 200 covers with a separate bar area. The decor is very traditional with dark wood panelling and furnishings, and green leather booths atop parquet flooring. Their menu is short and spendy with starters at £7-16, steaks £28-50 (also sold by weight) and a handful of seafood, chicken and veggie options at £13-32. I started with bone marrow with onions and toasted sourdough (£7) – the portion was very generous with three large (I think) beef shin bones smothered in sweet and crispy onions. The marrow was rich and soft, with lots of fatty beefy flavour; the accompanying sourdough was yeasty and chewy, providing nice texture.
I opted for a fillet steak (£34 for 300g) with béarnaise sauce and triple cooked chips (£4). The steak was prepared perfectly – it was still warm but had been well rested so there was no seeping blood; the charcoal cooking came through nicely in the meat and it had been well charred on the outside which lent texture. The meat melted in mouth and could have been cut with a spoon – a very impressive steak. The triple cooked chips were served piping hot and were unhealthily crispy/tasty. I was disappointed with my Bearnaise sauce which had obviously been prepared earlier in the day and was a bit gloopy. The clientele were mostly loud City types (this is probably not a place to go for a first date) and service was reserved but attentive.
Verdict: great quality and well cooked steak, highly recommended for all carnivores 7/10