I booked Hawksmoor for a speedy weekday lunch with a friend. We are both unreconstructed carnivores and a morning spent perusing the menu only served to whet my appetite. The interior was one part warehouse, one part club dining room, but one could forgive the unapologetically masculine decor once the food arrived.
Time was not our friend so we dove straight into our mains. I had a 400g rib eye steak and my companion the 300g fillet. The meat was a revelation; my steak was beautifully cooked, the flesh gloriously pink, the marbling characteristic of this cut, only serving to conserve the tenderness of the steak and allow it to melt sinfully in my mouth. I opted for a Bearnaise sauce that was an excellent rendering of the classic and to accompany it as my side, a portion of triple fried chips. Never again will I want double fried or whatever else other eateries are offering. These chips were game-over. Perfectly seasoned, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and with no residual oily aftertaste that mars many. In short they were better than any chip I’ve had. My companion’s fillet did exactly what you would expect of it, it was tender, moist and packed with flavour. And her peppercorn sauce, in a lesser restaurant often resulting in an unctuous mess that you would rather not bother about, was rich and tasty with the right amount of punch. The sweet potato side she said was the Robin to her steak’s Batman. If food is being described in superhero terms, you know it is pretty spectacular.
To drink I had a glass of the Chateau de Ricaud, an inexpensive Bordeaux that added rather than detracted to my meal. Again, I was impressed by how many wines were offered by the glass, an important consideration for the business diner, when being the wrong side of sloshed when you have an afternoon ahead of you is neither professional or ideal. Also of note were the helpful and informative waiting staff who were knowledgeable without straying into supercilious-ville, so often an annoying ‘perk’ at eating at a good restaurant in London.
We skipped puddings, but didn’t feel deprived as we were surprisingly very full from our mains. The only fly in the ointment was our Spring Salad which tasted of nothing in particular and we finished out of obligation rather than delight. Lunch came in at a not exactly cheap nor wealth of Croesus requiring £90 inclusive of service. We will definitely be back again but this time we will round up the troops and bring husband, boyfriend, children and assorted others in the evening and tackle a kilo or more of Chateaubriand over a bottle or two and of course several rounds of those inspired chips. It is always a good sign if you are planning the next visit so soon after the first, but that’s Hawksmoor for you, an unpretentious treat.