Vegetarians avert your eyes, for Hawksmoor is for the carnivorous of bent.
(Pssst. omnivores might enjoy this review of The Gate, Hammersmith, take the vege option at Dans Le Noir or perhaps pop onto the Jubilee Line and visit the Neasden Temple - just across the road is the most fabulous vegetarian restaurant)
Hawksmoor has become a naughty weekday default treat for us, one usually at the end of a long day where we can’t face the thought of cooking and fancy a big juicy steak. They don’t just do red meat – there looks to be a nice selection of seafood, poultry and vegetarian options, but we never venture further than their hunks of beef and ridiculously good triple cooked chips. I’m actually amazed that I haven’t blogged about it, assuming I had done so years ago – though Goodmans (first equal in the steak stakes, if not top by a whisker IMHO), cultish steak at L'Entrecote Marylebone and Canary Wharf, and The Meat Co. have all made an appearance with their perfectly cooked sides of cow but I haven't seemed to share the place we visit most often.
With several restaurants over London, there is a location
for everyone but we always seem to find ourselves drawn back to the Art
Deco splendour of Air Street, just off Picadilly Circus. We usually pick up one of their ‘express’ menus owing to speed of service (throwing in a fruit-based drink for the lady from their fab cocktail list and a pint or two of beer for the gent) perfect as a pre-theatre treat – though be warned any one who visits will leave rather full…
A couple of weekends ago we thought to be a little braver than usual, and rewarded ourselves after a long (ahem, leisurely rather than strenuous) spring walk through the blossoms of St James and Green Parks, thinking that we had earned a traditional English Sunday dinner. We skipped breakfast, lunch AND brunch in anticipation, and the fresh air kick-started our appetites with a vengeance.
We didn’t order starters through sheer indecisiveness (though our usual favourites are the huge Yorkshire Puddings served with a generous dollop of potted beef & bacon, or the burrata with asparagus, peas & wild garlic) but I meandered through the extensive cocktail list like always – they are grouped onto the brilliantly titled “anti-fogmatics, pre-prandials, post-prandials, bridging drinks, cards and cigars, disco drinks & beers, spirits and softs”. The problem I have as an irresolute individual is that all the drinks I’ve tried are delicious – but as a registered sweet tooth often can’t pass up the Tokaji Smash, Seasonal Gimlet or the Tropical Cobbler. Mr Kiwi always swiftly orders a Meantime pale ale with a satisfied smirk smile.
Chiming in with his order of Roast Beef, we simply sat back and warmed up. Out came a veritable feast of wintery roasties; perfectly golden duck fat roast potatoes, half a sweet onion, half a roast garlic (good for vampire warding, not so great for first dates), nicely crisp carrots, a serving of spring greens, an enormous Yorkshire pudding and lashings of bone marrow and onion gravy. Our respective slices of meat came cooked to order – the Kiwi with my barbarous rare, the Brit with a more “civilized” – apparently - well done, both drizzled with moreish garnishings of rock salt and pepper.
Heaven on a plate. At first glance we both thought the serving wasn’t very generous, but as we made our way through the meal realised our rather serious error. So serious that we split a sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream before rolling home for a mid-afternoon nap. Weekend adulting, and using my Doctor’s insistence on eating gluten in preparation for a celiac test at it’s finest.
(Please excuse the vivid blue of my husband’s shirt, I’ve warned him before about being a good Instagram husband and wearing muted tones that are better for blogging but to no avail. One day, one day.)
The actual Air Street restaurant is huge, housed in a building overlooking Regent Street – with gloriously art deco patterned windows, chandeliers and a sweeping mahogany staircase. The dark wood panelling, opulent walls of mirrors, green leather banquets and parquet flooring gives the room a slightly masculine appeal but in a lovely manner. The only slightly quizzical aspect is a very casual dress code of the waiters – but for their sneakers and check shirts they are incredibly friendly (one chatting at length about the football pools then hilariously trying his Italian on a group of pretty Spanish ladies). You are never left wanting for anything, but not pestered with attention. It’s why we keep going back – oh, and the steak. Did I mention the perfectly cooked sides of beef that they serve?
Just be warned, their Sunday Roasts are so popular (we looked around and a good 2 out of 3 tables were full of Roast dinners at 2.30pm) they tend to run out around 4-5pm. The biggest problem with having Hawksmoor branches everywhere is that they have spoiled us for any future meals of steak and everywhere we visit, we hesitate to order just in case it doesn’t measure up.
Damn you, Hawksmoor, damn you.