Sunday Roast Review: Hawksmoor

June 21, 2010

Roasting: 9.3/10

There was some chatter about Hawksmoor prior to our most recent sunday sit-down. Some of the more dedicated roasters have been quipping, “technically it’s not really a pub”, while others chipped in with “they only do beef, what about the rest?”.

Well firstly, if you don’t like beef then you shouldn’t really be reading this blog. But please keep reading anyway. Secondly, even though we love a good pub roast, it would be clear insanity not to give the roast from one of (many would say the) best steakhouses in London a proper smashing. Even if they do ‘only do beef’.

An unassuming groundfloor on commercial road, inside Hawksmoor it’s all white walls and exposed brickwork, dark wooden tables, restored factory lights and, amongst other prints, a wonderful set of screenprinted diagrams showing all the different cuts from a cow. It’s quite minimal, and tastefully done. We liked the stack of sunday papers at the door, a nice reminder that although it’s definitely not a pub, a relaxed atmosphere is certainly present on a sunday.

A few laughs courtesy of fatbooth, a quick survey of our dining companions, namely the huge gent in a baby pink suit guarding a mound of doggy bags; and the family of 10, of which 5 kids were tucking into what looked like the famed Hawksmoor burger, (lucky little sods, have fun taking them to Burger King after that), we got some beers in.

The Meantime Wheat Beer arrived in a tankard that had clearly been yanked out of cyrogenic deep freeze. Shedding fragments of its icy coat, the sweet nectar that came from within drank like it was poured from the plunging cleavage of an extremely cold yet beautiful woman. Sweet fruit tones with a nice zing to round it off, no beer glass will ever be cold enough from now on. We love a good wheat beer, and this Greenwich offering was superb.

We tackle the menu, and what a menu it is. Supplied direct from the renowned Ginger Pig (butchery class coming up, excitement maximus), this is the real deal. Chargrilled chatueabriands and marbled porterhouses mooed softly across the table in silky sweet tones; sirloins and ribeyes stood in the shade of the wine list, grazing on triple fried chips and short rib bubble and squeak. Half a lobster even piped up asking us to pass the stilton hollandaise.

But this was a sunday, and on a sunday we roast. So the aforementioned selection, much to Renardo’s disappointment, were all out on the technicality of being char grilled. You have only one choice for the roast at Hawksmoor, and this sunday it was rump with all the trimmings. Having heard praise for the short rib bubble and squeak we also ordered 2 servings just to round things off.

Cut to 20 minutes later. We have our orders in. Our lovely canadian waitress has convinced The Sweet Fiend he wants a Napa Valley cab sav. Doggy bag man has left. The sun is still shining. And our roasts our arriving. They are placed on the table amid a sudden hush. Renardo’s leg starts twitching, Birdman fumbles with his napkin. The Sweet Fiend swirls his wine.

Three heavy slabs of deep pink meat with charcaol tinted exteriors lie sprawled next to a mound of honeyed carrots. A posse of shallots, skin bulging, sit steaming off to one side. A yorkshire Ben Nevis looks ready to erupt the entire family of roast potatos nestled within, while a glistening wedge of cabbage the size of a norwiegan spruce has been felled across this sprawling roasted landscape.

Birdman picks up a jug of bone marrow and onion gravy and drenches his yorkshire spud capsule. Renardo empties the rest. Our waitress quickly brings another one. First in line, a hefty slice of rump. Maintaining a wonderful deep meaty flavour of a well aged cut, the charcoal bites through resulting in a flavour unlike any roast we have had so far. We now see why this place commands such a god-like status amongst carnivores. The meat is just incredible.

The potatoes are also in a league of their own. Roasted in beef dripping, duck fat spuds move into second place against these little puppies. Golden, crunchy, soft in the middle, perfectly salted, all the things any respectable potato should aspire to. We counted at least 5 per plate, ample for a big appetite. The Yorkshire was bang on, good rise and not overly greasy, with strong walls providing temporary shelter for the spuds from their inevitable gravy soaked fate.

Simplicity was key for the carrots and cabbage. Sweet and crunchy textures of orange went well with the buttery green, both very fresh and cooked to a nice level of crunchy yet soft. The skin-on shallots were an original touch, nice and rustic, but we found the skins annoyingly fiddly to remove. Retaining a lot of heat, we had to wait a while before peeling and once done we resorted to leaving the skins on the table as there was just no room on the plate.

The gravy, like the meat, was next level business. How can bone marrow and onion gravy not be? It was flawless. We went through 2 jugs at pace, and we nearly asked for a round of gravy instead of beers. Forget bloody marys, do a gravy mary and serve it with the breakfast. We’d buy it. Rich and sweet, just thick enough and oh-so-moreish, it was quite easily the best we’ve had.

The ticks kept coming too. The short rib bubble and squeak (although initially misplaced) was good enough to be a meal on its own. Served in cast iron dishes, the tender meat from the ribs and sweet onion confit added a whole new dimension to this old school classic. Just quietly, we think it should be a permanent feature on the menu.

Unfortunately it seemed the bubble and squeak was too much with Renardo quietly conceding defeat. A foolish error from a veteran of the scene, everyone knows The Sweet Fiend always orders dessert. One trifle, a cornflake icecream and salted caramel icecream later and you have 4 comatose, yet very content roasters. The desserts were good, the salty sweet caramel probably the winner, but unfortunately the sweets were but a distant flavour in comparison to the roast.

We could go on about the Hawksmoor, we really could. But this is turning into a small novel. In conclusion, it was an absolutely bloody amazing roast. It was everything we expected and more, and it will easily be one of the best roasts you can have in London. The 3 core elements, the meat, the potatos and the gravy were done to such a high standard we almost wept. And it’s very reasonably priced for what you get. There are a hell of a lot of pubs out there serving a £15 roast, and the majority of them will never come close to Hawksmoor. We just wish we had been there sooner.

Meat ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Potatoes ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Veg ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Yorkshire ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9)
Gravy ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Serving Size ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)
Menu Variety (N/A)*
Service ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9)
Atmosphere ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8)
Value for money ★★★★★★★★★★ (10)

Total Roasting: (9.3/10)

* We debated whether to include this category in the final score, but decided as Hawksmoor is ultimately a steak restaurant it should be omitted.

Hawksmoor on Urbanspoon


13 Responses to “Sunday Roast Review: Hawksmoor”

  1. yfronts Says:

    woah. So looks like you guys found the holy grail of roasts, nice one.

  2. Hamham Says:

    I’m nursing a hangover today and reading this post just made me salivate. I want this roast dinner in my mouth immediately.

  3. LeahW Says:

    That roast looks amazing, great review. Good to know you are still roasting it up…

  4. Lee Says:

    Excellent review, nice one lads. You have just sorted out this weekends roast for me!

  5. Lizzie Says:

    I am a huge, huge fan of Hawksmoor and this is why. Excellent post!

  6. Thanks for the kind words everyone! If you haven’t already been, get down there. Seriously. It’s Grade A top choice meat. (yes, I watched the wedding singer last night)

  7. The Sweet Fiend Says:

    I thought the ice creams were ACE too…but then, I am the sweet fiend!

  8. SophieG Says:

    oh baby x

  9. Renardo Says:

    Congratulations to the Hawksmoor for winning the Observer award for best Sunday lunch 2010.

    Well deserved!

  10. Josh Says:

    If you want to order a round of gravies you could actually just order Bloody Bulls or Bull Shots?

  11. […] offer. It’s no best-kept-secret, by any stretch, and their Sunday roast has already achieved legendary status, but we try and aim for the greatest on […]

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