This experience was like the feeling you get when you’ve been anticipating a holiday, a much needed one, for a very, very long time. You could never quite get enough time off work, you didn’t have the money or you didn’t know who to go with and just when you’ve almost given up…you’re packing your bags and on your way to the holiday destination that dreams are made of. This is how I felt about dining at Hawksmoor. High expectations yes, but rightly so, the restaurant has been dubbed ‘the best steak in London’ it has been hailed as the new breed of modern meets old school, a steak house to trump all steak houses and that you will not come out of there unsatisfied, unhappy or hungry. Well, the latter is definitely true.
I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a restaurant to be good more than here, I was incredibly excited to go and happy that I was privileged enough to walk through these doors. A birthday gift from my Mum…a gift card to Hawksmoor. She understood that this really was a big deal and that this was going to be one of the best meals you would have in your lifetime. Well, it was pretty hard for my mind frame to be changed..but it managed to.
The atmosphere is busy and buzzy, more casual and young than I thought, but being surrounded by media and arts companies it wasn’t too surprising. The waiters are nice, a little too conversational and at some points I felt like they were about to pull up a seat and join us, but all in all it was a nice place. Open brick, old steak house meets bright young things with scraggly beards and girls with tousled hair and red lipstick…just where they get the money for this place, I don’t know, I work in media…I know!
We started off with the potted mackerel to share. This was delicious. A little creamy, salty with beautiful dill flaked cucumber on the side. It was a great starter, not too much and a good beginning to the meal. If I’m going to be really honest, the mackerel could have been a little creamier. You know where does the best potted mackerel…The Clarence in Balham. Fricking deelish!
Onto the big guns. I think I was actually nervous with anticipation at how good this could potentially be. We ordered a Rib-Eye, a Fillet, creamed spinach, triple cooked chips & beef dripping fries. Both steaks were ordered medium-well. Neither of them arrived medium-well. I like my steak medium-well.
The fillet. It was pretty big, and very high, a good chunk of meat that’s for sure. It was a little overdone, no pink at all on the inside. The taste was ok, but definitely not that melt in the mouth, obliterating all your surroundings kind of feeling. It was a tad chewy, it should cut like hard butter and be so soft and tender. If I’m really honest, it tasted like roast beef. I like roast beef, but when I’ve ordered a fillet steak it should taste as such. With all that has been said and written, I should not be able to say ‘I’ve had better steak’. I have had better. Cafe Boheme on Old Compton Street for one, delicious fillet steak and melt in the mouth was written all over it.
The rib-eye. This was pretty black on the outside, a little charcoal-like in places, ok what the hell…a tad burnt. And the inside was quite rare. Not ideal. The taste was richer than with the fillet and I actually think I preferred this, it was a bit softer, less tough and not as chewy. But not cooked exactly how we’d asked for it.
We asked for both with béarnaise sauce and this came in a little jug so you could free pour to your heart’s desire. The sauce was amazing, really delicious. Fresh tasting and you almost could have it it on it’s own. The ketchup they provided was watery and tasted a little rancid, not good for chip-dipping at all!
The sides. Creamed spinach – a fair attempt, it was nice, but not amazing, my Mum’s leaves theirs for dead. It was a little bland, needed more salt and to be a little smoother. The spinach taste was a little lost, it would be interesting to know what cream they used. The triple cooked chips – these were like when you get normal chips, they go cold and then you reheat them way, way later. A bit hard on the outside and the flavour isn’t fresh. I wasn’t a fan. The beef-dripping fries – you know when you get skinny fries and there are those overcooked/crispy ones that aren’t as nice as the long, perfectly cooked, fluffy ones? These were all like them, only more crispy and dry and the animal fat taste was too apparent so much so that it was off putting. When you have a bowl of chips, it’s those little crispy pieces at the end that no one really wants as much. I know you know what I’m talking about.
And there we have it. The Hawksmoor Diary as it were. If only it could have been great.
Hawksmoor Seven Dials
11 Langley Street, London WC2H 9JG
020 7420 9390