I remember when I lost my steak virginity. It was a rickety little bistro somewhere off Rue Bonaparte in Paris, and I was completely nonplussed when I was asked by my rather handsome waiter, “Bleu, Saignant, A point or Bien Cuit?” What arrived on my plate looked like charcoal and as I crunched my way through it, with copious amounts of water, I kept thinking “Is this what I have been missing out on? Pah!”
Clearly, I had ordered badly. Six years on, my appetite for a good steak dinner will never be satiated. I day dream about porterhouse steaks and fillet steaks, and have an unhealthy curiosity for what particular restaurants put in their ‘secret’ house sauces, like the green gooey one at Le Relais de Venise in Marylebone.
When it comes to the great British steakhouse, people can get a bit evangelical about their favorites – and none more so than The Hawksmoor chain. I’m not sure if it’s because of their beautifully sourced meat from The Ginger Pig, the copper-gilded interiors or knockout cocktail menus. I am sure that it’s a brilliant way to squander a spare afternoon, greedily consuming a Chateaubriand steak with a side of truffled macaroni cheese and lobster. You do need a whole afternoon mind, as you slowly pull yourself out of one of the most divine meat comas you’ll ever experience.
See. Right there. Evangelical.
A few weeks ago The Hawksmoor team announced via Twitter that they would run a soft launch of their snazzy new bar menu at their Spitalfields branch. Unlike some of the more trendy establishments in London that refuse to have a booking policy (Burger & Lobster, Meat Liquor, Polpo etc. etc.), the bar was taking reservations. Much like the aforementioned restaurants, however, getting a table was a bitch. I managed it – just – but that was largely thanks to a lawyer friend with an unhealthy obsession with his Twitter feed.
The bar itself was situated in the basement of the flagship restaurant, and made up for the lack of natural daylight with sparkling brass bar tops and exposed peacock-green colored tiles, all rounded off with waiters sporting a range of fluoro Hawaiian-themed shirts. I don’t think it was intentional but collectively, it certainly brightened the place up. Between the group, we scoffed the friar sandwich, chilli cheese dog and cheeseburger, all set off with sides of shortrib nuggets (comes with a great dip), smashed cucumbers and an oxtail poutine (Canadian cheesy chips and gravy, topped with braised oxtail). For pudding, I opted for the peanut butter shortbread with salted caramel ice cream – a lovely little deconstructed number, with just the right balance of sweet and salt for my liking.
The real star in show here, however, is the establishment’s cocktail menu – featuring beauties like the ‘Shakey Pete Ginger Brew’ (gin, ginger, lemon and London pride) and the ‘Nuclear Banana Daquiri’ (rum, chartreuse, banana and lime). They also do a ‘Desert Island Drinks’ list chosen by a Hawkmoor Bartender each month. Coming in at £40 – £50 a head including drinks, the place is great value for the quality of the food you get and a nice alternative to the quasi-religious Hawksmoor steak experience. Only just, mind you.
Have you tried the bar at The Hawsmoor Spitalfields? If so, let us know what you thought in the comments box below or @Style_thenSome!