In this unassuming side street of Covent Garden is a black wrought iron door that once pushed leads on to one of the best steak houses (arguably) in London. The Hawksmoor is one of four steak restaurants (Air Street recently opened), which are all located in London.
As we pushed open the door we were welcomed into a dark reception area, where we gave our names and coats. Our bags and coats were stored in huge wardrobes that looked as though they came from Narnia.
We were taken down the dark stairs and taken to the bar, which is dimly lit. The bar area is not only dark because it is underground but also because the furniture is all dark, with only the gilt gold trimmings and creamy tiles to lighten up the area. This gives this place a feeling of Victorian glamour and a hide away from the hustle and bustle above ground in this tourist area.
We took a seat at a bar bench opposite the well stocked bar and checked out the impressive cocktail list. We came here early purposely so we would have time to get a few cocktails in before being seated in the restaurant in the next room.
We ordered the famous ‘Shakey Pete’s ginger beer’, which is a concoction of ginger beer, gin and London pride – sounds odd but is delicious and served in a frosted silver tankard, as well as the ‘Shipwreck Sour’ a brandy sour mixture which is foamy and served in a beautiful 1920’s glass.
Satisfied, we walked on into the next room through to the dining room. This is much lighter as there is a bare brick wall and the only dark wood is the table and chairs. The gold and cream contrasting with the brown brick and wood continues the tiheme from the open plan of the bar. The bar can be closed off the restaurant by large wooden doors but usually this is left open as it makes more of a relaxed atmosphere despite the luxurious surroundings.
We were seated in the centre of the large restaurant; there were seats at the edges with comfy benches and a small private dining area in the corner located in a wooden box type set up. We ordered a nice, not too overpriced bottle of red and weighed up our options. Before even stepping in the restaurant we knew we were going to have steak but we had the choice of cuts on the menu as well as a limited few on the blackboard. On the blackboard is a list of prime steak cuts that are of certain sizes and waiters cross of as they are sold.
We started with the steak tartare (indeed a meat fest) and the smoked salmon on soda bread. The smart, well groomed waiter in suit acknowledged our choice whilst topping up our wine glasses. We leant back and admired the glamorous surroundings. Our starters quickly were served and were well presented. My steak tartare was pre-mixed which I personally prefer as it shows a real skill from the chefs getting the balance just right to suit most tastes. The steak was burgundy red signifying the good cut of the steak as well as very roughly cut. I think if the quality of the meat hadn’t have been so good it would have been hard to enjoy these thick pieces but it just melted and without a doubt the beat tartare I have had. The salmon was thick and juicy although looked like the plainer brother of the other dish but still tasted delicious on the rustic bread. We polished off the starters, which were swiftly taken away.
For main course we decided to treat ourselves and chose the Chateaubriand (one of only four left) that was on the blackboard. We asked for this rare but were told by the waiter without any patronising attitude that due to the cut, a Chateaubriand should be medium or medium rare at most to get the most of this cut. He did explain why but it was a little lost on me as I was too impressed how he had contradicted our choice although leaving it option politely for us to keep to our decision if we so wished. It is impressive not to be patronising yet telling a customer that he is not always right. With the steak we ordered a peppercorn sauce with spinach and bone marrow.
The Chateaubriand came out served on a wooden platter with a small rocket salad; the waiter cut it in front of us and he was right – the meat was red-pink and certainly not too overcooked for me. The waiter cut it with such skill and without the awkwardness or showmanship that is often created when a waiter is serving out at a table. Our wine was topped up again with glasses of tap water and we tucked in. Now if you read this blog often you will know I love my steaks but I have to say this is one of the best steaks (the other was at the Tramshed) I have had in my life. The steak melted in the mouth and was juicy, full of flavour and not one piece of fat or gristle. The sides did not let the star of the show down. The deep green spinach was thick with large leaves barely just wilted and seasoned beautifully and the marrow was delicious. Not like other marrows that we have had that had the bread crumbs mixed with the marrow making it soggy but the bone cut in half bubbling over the crust of bread crumbs that is golden and toasted perfectly. If I am ever asked what my last meal would be if I was on death row; well reader this is it.
The atmosphere is Victorian / 20’s glamour, the service is knowledgeable without being patronising and the food is out of this world. Considering the Hawksmoor has such a reputation on such simple dishes, it cannot allow itself to slip up but this never looked likely. I love to find faults in certain aspects of the dining experience in my reviews but it pains me to tell you that Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls couldn’t find one. As a result we give reward the Hawksmoor with:
Food Atmosphere Service