What? Huw Gott and Will Beckett are back with their first London Hawksmoor to open since 2014, right next to Borough Market.
New? Yes, it opened at the start of March whilst, the Cooks’ Room – a 16-cover private dining room with its own kitchen – has just launched.
Where? 16 Winchester Walk, Borough Market, SE1 9AQ, www.thehawksmoor.com
On the Menu: Whilst Hawksmoor is renowned for its steak, it isn’t just about cuts of meat. To start you’ll find the likes of Salcombe crab on toast; potted beef and bacon with Yorkshires and Old Spot belly ribs. Main courses, beyond the steaks, include lemon sole, Salt Marsh lamb chops with Isle of Bara cockles and the Hawksmoor burger. For pudding, there is the likes of Yorkshire rhubarb pannacotta and maple, walnut and rye tart with goat’s milk ice cream.
First Impressions: Who wouldn’t want to start the week with cocktails, steak and BYOB? Clearly not many people because the restaurant was packed on the Monday we visited. We headed to the bar first, obviously you expect to wait for your drink, we’re British we can do queueing, but until it was our turn to be served, the bar staff didn’t even acknowledge we were there or any of the others waiting – then they were very friendly (as were the rest of the staff throughout) – but until then, not so much as a glance, a smile, or a hello.
The Look: This Hawksmoor is housed in a former hop warehouse, which stands on the grounds of the 12th century Winchester Palace. Huw worked with Macaulay Sinclair interior architects to retain many original features – it’s all dark wood and dark green leather with low lighting in the evenings. There are wooden beams and columns salvaged from the when the building was built from great ships broken up, parquet flooring comes from a library in the Midlands, table tops come from an old chemistry lab and there are large lights from a masonic lodge. It’s slick but relaxed; the sort of place you want to sit and eat steak with plenty of mac n cheese and chips.
What We Ate: We started with giant, plump scallops that had been gently roasted with white port and garlic and smokey potted mackerel, served in a jar with a satisfying layer of fat to break through. Both were winners and both set the standard of what was to come.
We chose a 400g rib eye and a 400g sirloin steak, though there are bigger cuts to share too, or demolish if you’re particularly hungry. The meat is aged for 35 days and the result is that it was up there with some of the best steak we’ve had in a while, proper hunks of well cooked meat. You’re going to eat it and then want it all over again. Order the Stichelton hollandaise to go with it, it’s a stronger variant of a blue cheese sauce and the perfect accompaniment to dip your beef dripping fries in. Obviously, we had to order bone marrow to further satisfy our inner carnivores. If you’re into strong, mature cheese you’re going to be all over the mac n cheese, or if you want something a little less filling, but equally as decadent, you’ll want the creamed spinach.
Being quite the sticky toffee pudding connoisseur, there could only be one option for pudding, the dripping doughnuts…no, of course it was the sticky toffee pudding that Hawksmoor is known for. It was rich, dense with that dark, caramel sauce and a good scoop of clotted cream. Perfection. That said I’ll be going back to try those doughnuts.
What We Drank: We started with cocktails at the bar – the menu is divided by cocktails suited for any time of day, whether you need me a pick me up in the morning (don’t make that a habit, obviously) or need to take the edge off the day. We chose the Dear Old Pal from the Pre-Prandials – drinks to be had just before a meal – it’s a smoky Irish take on the Old Pal made from Redbreast 12 yr, Noilly Pratt and a smoky Lapsang Campari. For a more refreshing drink, go for the Champagne Charlie found in the Bridging Drink section (drinks to tide you over between meals); it’s made from Beefeater, lemon, seasonal fruit syrup – which in our case was pear – and Champagne. With our steaks we had a glass of the Pulenta Estate Gran Malbec from Mendoza in Argentina, recommended by the sommelier.
Go With: It’s meat and seafood at its finest so don’t go taking a vegetarian. Great for a date night, but equally good for business meetings or just catching up with your friends.
Final Word: Head there on a Monday for their Monday Wine Club – you can take your own wine and it’s just £5 corkage, regardless of how big the bottle is – Jeroboams encouraged!