As well as birthday celebrations at the bottomless brunch at Oxbo, the chocolate afternoon tea, the dinners at Smoking Goat and Flour & Grape (coming soon!) – I was lucky enough to also spend the Friday evening of my birthday weekend eating dinner at Hawksmoor Spitalfields. Here’s my review.
Anyone who’s remotely interested in eating out in London will have heard of Hawksmoor. It’s seemingly on every London meat-eater’s top ten and is somewhat of a London institution, with several sites dotted across the capital. I must admit I had lofty high expectations by the time I finally visited from the amount I’d heard about it!
We were seated in a dark, candlelit corner with bench seating next to each other and a bit of a wobbly table (which the waiter soon sorted) when we arrived. My immediate reaction was that it felt a little cramped however I heard today that Hawksmoor Spitalfields has had a refurb, so it might be less cramped now.
The menu sounded very indulgent and the specials were scribbled on a chalkboard on the opposite wall, I had difficulty choosing! We started with a bottle of red from Ldn Cru which was a lovely wine and I liked the fact it was made in London.
For starter I went for the scallops in white port and garlic and Paul chose the potted beef and onion with Yorkshire puddings. We loved my scallops, they were succulent and sweet, but Paul wasn’t so fond of his potted beef. He found the beige-ness of the whole plate, with the only dash of colour being the thick yellow layer of fat on top of the potted beef a bit off-putting so we swapped mid-way through. I really liked the rich meatiness of his but agreed it could have done with a splash of colour on the plate – even a few token herbs thrown on top would have improved the look of the plate as it didn’t look appealing.
We ordered the chateaubriand for main which was listed with price per 100g on the chalkboard, taking the water’s recommendation for the amount we’d need. We ordered the infamous macaroni cheese and creamed spinach (a nod to my five a day if nothing else…) to accompany our meat. The creamed spinach was good, but the macaroni cheese with it’s breadcrumb crumble on top was to die for. Honestly, it was amazing.
The meat itself, divided us. I really enjoyed it but Paul maintained that Galvin la Chapelle’s chateaubriand (which I didn’t have) blew Hawksmoor’s out of the water. Whilst I did love it and ate it all happily, there was just something more that I expected. Whether that’s because my expectations were so high or whether we were just unlucky with the piece of meat we got, I’m not sure. Both of us were just a bit underwhelmed by the flavour of the meat itself.
By this point we were very merry, full and debating whether we could physically manage dessert. Of course we soldiered on and chose the Crunchy bar (me) and sticky toffee pudding (Paul). You know, the light choices…! Regular readers will know what a sweet tooth I have and the extent of my love for chocolate. It’s no small thing then for me to tell you that these were probably the best desserts we have ever had. Yes, really. They were incredible. The Crunchy one with its honeycomb, rich chocolate and thick toffee sauce was just divine. The sticky toffee pudding was equally intense with such a smooth toffee flavour.
After dessert they brought out this little platter of their handmade “Rolos” saying Happy Birthday. Filled with salted caramel, they were as beautiful as dessert. It was a lovely end to an incredibly filling meal! In fact, they were so good we bought a box to take home.
Verdict? Overall I had a great time at Hawksmoor and can see why it’s done so well in London. Its unapologetic indulgence and simple approach to great food is refreshing – there’s no fancy flowers or foams in sight. I was a little disappointed by the meat itself but I loved every other aspect, maybe we were just a bit unlucky with our piece of meat. I do think for the price (around £220 for two), there are other places you can eat which may have the edge on Hawksmoor, (City Social was a similar price). Those desserts though are worth a visit in their own right and I would certainly happily return.
Location: There’s a few in central London, each with a slightly different menu.