For background I have been to the Hawksmoor Seven Dials twice and both times I had the most delicious time so I was very excited to be invited by a colleague to the Air Street branch. This is the newest restaurant of Hawksmoor family in London and is carving a name for itself by having a menu offering both meat and (which the Hawksmoor is famous for) and fish options. Interesting idea considering people will only go to the Hawksmoor if they are carnivorous and want a bloody good steak.
The other Hawksmoors I have visited are underground but at Air Street you are welcomed at a ground floor reception but then led up to the restaurant; making it much lighter than previous outlets. The decor follows the same theme, however with dark brow wooden seats and tables and brass lamps and fixtures.
We were promptly seated and handed our menus. We ordered fried queenies, scallops and salmon for starter and although I really wanted a steak I thought I should try the fish to see how this compared to the unbeatable steaks (in a way a good idea as you I shall explain later) so decided to try the monkfish. Our group also ordered fillet steaks and the dover sole on the bone.
The wine list was a piece of folded card and not obvious to see; so it had to be pointed out to the head of the table as it was not given directly to him. We were asked for water by the overly enthusiastic waitress, who don’t get me wrong, was professional but just a little well… excitable therefore irritating. She would constantly top up our water glasses making us have to move for her and stop flow of conversation to say a polite thanks (I gave up saying it in the end needless to say). The wine finally came and we relaxed a little and chatted until our starters arrived.
The restaurant was not packed as we are used to in this restaurant chain (I hate to use the word chain for them but I guess that is what they are as they are four outlets) but was busy with young Chelsea and businessmen. This place lacked the dark, hidden away glamour of the other outlets and so I was disappointed from the outset. This is before the food arrived!
So on to the food. I have ordered the fried queenies which was a huge mistake. I assumed these to be quickly fried in a pan but when this was served to me it looked similar to popcorn chicken – greasy over powering batter that lost any taste or texture of the delicate queenies. The group also ordered salmon, which looked like jam and had an opaque appearance. It was well smoked but lacked the Hawksmoor meaty look. When the groups scallops came out we all had food envy as these were served in large scallop shells. The scallops were well cooked and we all sat there rather miffed we did not take that option – well that was until later that evening that we found out that the people who took that option all had food poisoning and were dreadfully sick! Terrible honestly especially as one of the diners had to get a flight back the next day…
Our starters were swiftly taken away and we were served our mains. I was served first and was a extremely disappointed with the small piece of monkfish that was served with no sides or sauce. When ordering the waitress told me to have the small portion as it was lunch but this really was a measly portion. It was so overcooked it had tightened itself into a hard block and looked a little pathetic against the whole dover sole and the gigantic juicy steaks. I could barely eat the fish needless to say. The steaks looked lovely but had grisly on them which is not acceptable given the price of these dishes and would never be accepted in the other Hawksmoor’s. The dover sole was probably the best option on the menu as it was well cooked and fell off of the bone. This was served with a rich creamy hollandaise sauce. I would like to have say that this was probably a one off but a friend actually went just after our visit and their monkfish was so over cooked they sent it back. Not acceptable at all!
We ordered sides which were lucky for me as my monkfish came with nothing) and these were lovely, we had chilli and lemon wilted spinach, greens and double fried chips. Really tasty but cannot really up the ante of the poor main courses themselves.
Throughout this the overexcited waitress kept topping us up but never once asked us how our food was (a relief really as we were in polite company). I am sorry reader to give you such a terrible account of a great institute. Trust me if I was reviewing one of the other traditional Hawksmoor’s they would be hard pushed not to get five stars all around but this place really did not live up to this in atmosphere, service and especially food. As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls give the Hawksmoor Air Street:
Food Atmosphere Service