Any good foodie will know about Hawksmoor. Apparently it and Goodman’s are the biggest contenders for great steak restaurants in London. Don’t get go near any of those Aberdeen Angus Steakhouses, and don’t get me started on the terrible value of the Gaucho chain.
The good Italian family and I (in the role of honorary family member) arranged for a Christmas gathering at the second and newest location of Hawksmoor in Covent Garden. As much as they call themselves on the seven dials, it really doesn’t qualify. I looked forward to the evening since I’d heard so much about it and I’ve always enjoyed my steaks when dining at their Commercial Street location even despite the infamy of their Kim Chi Burger.
With a booking a 9pm, we decided to meet a little bit earlier. Unbeknownst to many people this location actually has a reasonably sized bar where you can even book a table to dine on. The bar was certainly busy when I sat down just after 7pm. Every table seemed busy though cleared down as the night went on. Their cocktail list seemed pretty exhaustive with plenty of inventive drinks and many pages to flip through.
Sitting in the bar area, everything is table service though unfortunately it took me about twenty minutes before I managed to order my first drink. A shame considering I sat in front of the maitre de with numerous waiters zooming between the bar and the dining room (pictured above in a poor iPhone-quality photo). On the plus side, I tweeted about it to the @HawksmoorLondon twitter who pleasingly responded (more on that later).
Our time for dinner finally arrived and quite famished from the waiting happily ordered after perusing the menu. Toni got the 6 Cumbrae Oysters (£10) (pictured above) whilst both Luca and I choose the ribs (pictured below). I’m happy to report the soft succulent flesh of the pig remained juicy and tender with plenty of flavour from the sauce covered around it. Don’t expect an American-style BBQ ribs – on the menu, they’re called Tamworth Belly Ribs (£9) so they are a bit more fatty than expected. It’s all worth it for the flavour though. Though happy with that dish, if I returned I’d try the Grilled Lamb Chops with Mint & Caper Salad £10) since I read many reviews.
Three of us decided to share one of the 900gram porterhouse steaks since we wanted something more juicy, although Marco decided to go solo on his 300g fillet (£30). Ordering it for medium-rare, we expected pink, juicy slices served on the tiny skillets. Unfortunately what arrived was a much more medium to well done steak. We noticed it only after grabbing a small slice and went to tell our waiter about the terrible fate this Ginger Pig-sourced piece found. We flagged the maitre de with our waiter nowhere to be seen, and with a single look, agreed with our observation before immediately sending back for another one. The second time around, we got a much better looking piece of meat, although they kindly let us keep the previous one. I forgot to take any pictures of this in action.
Fortunately all of the sides lived up to my expectations including this deliciously soft and creamy Mac and Cheese (£4) that arrives in its own little cast iron pot.
The beef dripping chips (£4), though really, really bad for you tasted amazing. Nice, crisp and full of flavour.
A couple of us also went for dessert. Here’s my decadent cornflake mini-sundae (£4) that worked to finish me off for the evening.
We finished off the evening with a round of whiskey (mmm, smoky Laphroaig £10.50) and an espresso (£3). The maitre de delivered the drinks and told us he would get them on the house apologising for the meal stuff up and the twenty minute wait earlier in the evening. Well done on Will from Hawksmoor for sending someone across.
Unfortunately the third strike arrived when we hit our bill and I scanned it to make sure it looked correct and found two desserts added that we never really had. Even though it didn’t have a huge impact to our bill because of the amount of food and drink we had, I found it particularly annoying to notice these two items slip in. Pointing it out to our waiter, he apologised acknowledging those dishes were for the table next to us.
I really wanted to love my Hawksmoor experience. I wanted great food, great service (which the 12.5% really did not warrant that night) with great ambiance yet they faltered a few too many times. Customer service did well to make up for a number of misgivings yet it concerns me that restaurants of such fame have these fundamental problems. Oh, and did I mention it’s not on the Seven Dials as much as they claim all over their website, it’s down Langely Street near the famous Pineapple Dance Studios.
Name: Hawksmoor Covent Garden
Found at: 11 Langley St, London, WC2H 9JG