Report: Hawksmoor, Covent Garden

November 2, 2010

All around us, lumps, layers, it seems like mountains of flesh and meat are bleeding, glistening, wafting across the round table, with crisp brown edges and raw red centres, surrounded by small cute pots of golden chips, green spinach, carrot chunks, and cheesy bubbling macaroni, in front of a trio of gravy jugs with thick Béarnaise and Peppercorn sauces, a bottle of homemade ketchup, two bottles of red Sangiovese, ice water, and six neat place settings most notable for their extra sharp, saw-action, steak knives, in a dim bricked basement where gentle classical music and jazz plays below the animated conversations of suited city types, rich and fashionable ladies, and silver-haired old men with thick-rimmed glasses.

How barbaric, how carnivorous, how elegant, how sophisticated, how so very Hawksmoor.

When we heard that our favourite Sunday Roast offerers, the highly revered British steakhouse Hawksmoor, had opened a new restaurant in London’s Covent Garden, we pulled the Twitter equivalent of don’t-you-know-who-we-are, and eventually (thank the meat Lords) bagged a table during their soft opening. (Yes, we know no one likes a queue jumper, but hey ho, you don’t have a Sunday Roast review blog and we do.)

Our table of six arrives with great expectation at the quiet entrance to the restaurant, for a feast awaits. A polite greeter takes our coats and shows us downstairs to the stunning, wood paneled bar area, that has a perfect Manhattan speakeasy feel to it, with low desk lamps and high wooden bar stools.

The thick cocktail list has a great number of interesting paths to begin the night, with each drink carefully explained via a helpful and insightful anecdote about its origin and ingredients. I opt for the Fancy Gin, which the menu describes as “the perfect showcase for our national spirit, gin. Extravagantly sweetened with Curaçao instead of sugar.”

For booze hounds, there are punches and cups, fixes and fizes, juleps, aromatic cocktails, sours, and bridging drinks, as well as a curious collection of anti-fogmatic drinks which an American named Harry Craddock, who was supposedly obsessed with creating an effective pick me up, developed in the 1930s. He described them as an “anti-fogmatic, eye opener, bracer, corpse reviver or morning glory.” Forget Red Bull, this is serious alcohol appreciation.

Drinks downed and muscles loosened, we are shown to our place in the large banquet hall which is buzzing with activity. Every table is full, and yet somehow, the restaurant still feels spacious.

Our server explains the food menu but we have only come for one thing: meat. We order lots and lots of it, and the blackboard at the end of the room that lists all of the available cuts of beef promptly has the 1.2 kg, 1.1 kg, and 1 kg of Chateaubriand struck off it.

There is something quite pleasurable about watching what you’ve just ordered being removed from the menu. It’s like the food you’re about to receive is one-of-a-kind, unique, and has been specially and lovingly prepared for you.

And it has, at the Hawksmoor. That’s what you pay for (and pay, you do). All of the restaurant’s meat comes from the award winning butchers, The Ginger Pig, renowned for their meticulous attention to dry ageing – the minimum they offer is 35 days.

All that’s left for you then, is to choose how you’d like your steak, and what sides you want. The Hawksmoor’s chefs use a real charcoal oven, and today, due to the sheer weight of our meat, they insist we go for medium rare, as “a large amount of undigested protein sitting inside your stomach isn’t very good for you”, says our waiter.

To go with our meat, we order the aforementioned selection of sides and sauces. The Hawksmoor offers two types of triple cooked chips, one in beef dripping, the other in sunflower oil, so we order both.

When the food arrives it doesn’t disappoint. Above all, the meat is utterly delicious, tender, and oozing with juice. With 600g or so each to eat we don’t manage it all, and have the remainder wrapped up in doggie bags for the ladies we left at home.

Completely stuffed at the end, our faces are incandescent as our bodies struggle to process the huge hunk of flesh in our stomachs, the digestive enzymes bouncing off the molten mass like pitiful little flies off a car windscreen.

And then just in case nuclear winter sets in tomorrow and this is our last chance to eat a civilised meal before a life of scavenging, we order desserts; sticky toffee pudding, chocolate fondant, and cornflake sundae. Even the Sweet Fiend, whose voracious appetite usually knows no bounds, leaves the Hawksmoor feeling overindulged, even a little bit sick.

Of course, that’s all the Hawksmoor’s fault, their food is simply too delicious to say no to.

Hawksmoor (Seven Dials) on Urbanspoon

Note: we didn’t have a Sunday Roast at Hawksmoor Covent Garden, so therefore have not ranked it with our usual Roasted Sunday categories. But if it’s the same as their offering at their spot in Shoreditch, it is the best there is.

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2 Responses to “Report: Hawksmoor, Covent Garden”

  1. Adam Says:

    A few chums and I experienced the Sunday Roast at the new Seven Dials site at the weekend, and I can assure you that it was another 9.3-er…

  2. aduncan Says:

    wow, miss these meals over in Cali


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