The food? The drink? The atmosphere? Hawksmoor Steak and Cocktail house has it all. And more. The Seven Dials branch, is located opposite Pineapple Studios, about 5 minutes walk from Covent Garden tube. It’s well known for its British meat, supplied by the North York Moors butchers, the Ginger Pig, and for how they cook it simply over charcoal.
We got a whiff of delicious charred meaty goodness as we approached the understated entrance doors of the converted brewery, which itself is steeped in brilliant steak related history Its first owner, Alderman Combe, hosted an annual steak supper club back in the 1800′s, a members, secret high society sort of affair that catered for those lucky people who preached ‘beef and liberty’ (hence the fabulous sign on the way down to the bar). I doubt I would have made the list back in the day, but last week, when we were welcomed into the low lit funkily decorated cellar bar by friendly laid back staff who seemed to wear whatever what they liked, I felt like the place was on the casual side of special, minus any of ponce you can get in some London places.
The restaurant is partitioned from the bar and still retains some stunning architectural features including a vaulted brick ceiling and huge cast iron columns. If you don’t fancy a full blow out meal, the bar area is open for their booze and the famous Kimchi burgers (a traditional Korean dish of fermented vegetables – for more info go have a read of some reviews by Eat Like a Girl, Young&Foodish, Going with my Gut).
The cocktail menu is HUGE and ranges from both classic drinks to down right eccentric concoctions, including Juleps, Tweaked tikis, Punches and Cups and Bridging drinks, a concept for those Victorian young men who had nothing to do after lunch other than drink cocktails and wait until dinner time came round. Shame. Feeling like I wanted to find out exactly what those crazy kids were enjoying so much, I went for the Bridging drink ‘Champagne Charlie’, a mix of gin, lemon juice and homemade seasonal fruit syrup (blood orange), charged with champagne. Absolutely delicious, sweet and bubbly, yet with the underlying dryness of gin. My boyfriend had the Boulevardier which was a very manly bourbon based cocktail, but unfortunately it was missing the bourbon-soaked cherry promised on the menu, he didn’t seem to mind though.
We weren’t rushed into the restaurant at all, but went through from the bar when we were ready, a nice and relaxing touch. Unfortunately we couldn’t sit on our original table next to the wine cellar because the legs were wobbly and there was a brick that looked like it was about to fall out of the ceiling (dangerous much?), so we got moved to a new section with a waiter who was absolutely hilarious. We swiftly made bets with him on when the brick was going to drop. Probably quite bad taste in hindsight, but he continuously made us laugh whilst providing flawless service.
We decided to go for starters. I had read A LOT about the Tamworth Belly Ribs, there was no way I wasn’t going to try them. And they didn’t disappoint. Left on the bone, they were tender, juicy, sweet and sticky. I could have eaten them all over again with their charcoal bbq flavour and crunchy red cabbage. Actually incredible.
Mike had the bone marrow and slow cooked onions and he loved them. Spreading the marrow and onions on thick chunky bread (of which there wasn’t quite enough), he oohed and aahed at every mouthful. For me, the presentation was a bit much but the flavour was all there. The rich meaty marrow and sweet onions was served in the bone. I drunkenly said to the waiter as we chatted after the course that they were ‘boney in the look’ at which he broke into huge laughter and informed us that he’d once been dumped for much the same reason…ahem.
On to the mains. Well, we could’t fit everything onto the table despite not ordering greens (shame on me). We went for the Porterhouse as I’ve never tried one, a T-Bone steak consisting of two cuts of beef, fillet (tenderloin) and shortloin. I also really wanted to get our waiter to cross our 900g portion off the chalk board which the team use to monitor how much of what is left. The simple things!
The meat was heavenly. Smokey, tender, full of flavour and rich meaty juices. Sliced in the kitchen, there were a couple of bits that were a little bit overcooked, a shame when you pay such a premium, but overall it was fantastic. Alongside we chomped down on what are truly the kings of all chips, fried in beef dripping, crunchy, fat, fluffy and undeniably unhealthy, we dunked them into an order of the stilton hollandaise sauce which was tart yet deep and creamy, and we pretty much didn’t speak until we were all done. Feeling very fat and very satisfied, what would any sensible couple do? Call it a night and make sure you catch the last tube home. But no, we had to have the sticky toffee pudding, and I’m so glad we did.
Our waiter bought it over and gave us a tuneful and very happy rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ encouraging other diners and waiters to sing along. With a huge grin, I wanted to dig in and guess what? This is a steakhouse that can do dessert! It was SO good with a honey sauce, a rich sugary yet light textured pudding and a dollop of clotted cream.
When it was finally time to go home, yes we couldn’t move, and yes we missed the last tube and I fell asleep on the hour long night bus but it was worth it. My boyfriend might not think it was worth every penny of the £150 (!!) it cost for the two of us, but I did, three hours of dinner, three courses, two cocktails and a bottle of delicious red wine.
Next time I will listen to whomever the tweeter of Hawksmoor is and not wear a belt when dining. I’m 100% eyeing up the sharing breakfast plate at the Spitalfields branch so will bear his advice in mind when I dig in.