Could this be the best steak in London?
There’s been a lot of talk recently about Hawksmoor holding the title of Best Steak Restaurant in London. Not one to fall foul to potentially idle gossip, I decided the only thing to do was to go there myself, eat until I almost burst and make my own judgement.
As is becoming a popular trend it seems, London restaurants (not just the Brick Lane curry houses) are offering their diners the opportunity to BYOB (bring your own bottle) on, often, a Monday night. For a reasonable corkage fee (£5 at Hawskmoor) this means you can keep your bill as easily digestable as your meal and even find an excuse to pop open that sumptuous red you’ve been squirrelling away for special occasions. I mean, what’s more special than being able to bring your own booze into a top-end restaurant and not have to swig it out of a concealed paper bag when the waiter isn’t looking?
The atmosphere in Hawksmoor is somewhat ‘refined casual’. It’s definitely erring on the masculine side with the decor and general ambience, although that doesn’t seem to put off us women-folk as there were plenty of ladies in there, all managing to match the men on plate-clearing. G’on the girls!
As our ‘brought along wine’ was decanted for us, we tucked into a nice glass of champagne each and ordered our starters of Half a Dozen Oysters for my friend (served with Tabasco and shallot vinegar on the side), and the Potted Leghorn & Plum Pudding Bacon with Piccalilli and Toast for me.
I was already in a state of over-excitement about my impending meat-fest before we’d even arrived, but the second I took a bite of that Potted Leghorn it was as if a starters gun was fired, announcing that all of my worries could suddenly flood away and be replaced by intense joy. A perfect balance of sweet and salty, this gorgeous, meaty little starter simply made my day. It was made all the better of course by the fact that it’s served in a small kilner jar, and I’m a sucker for just about ANYTHING as long as it’s served in a kilner jar. My friend “Mmmmm’d” and “Ahhhhhh’d” her way through her plate of oysters, and the rate at which they disappeared was compliment enough.
Next up were the mains. The big test. Was this going to be the best steak I’d eaten in London?…
Well, it’s safe to say that’s it was certainly up there with the top 3. Cooked to medium-rare perfection my 300g fillet steak cut a fine figure of meat on my plate. I’d selected the stilton hollandaise sauce to accompany mine (just for added artery clogging factor of course). It was creamy, it was rich, it was just perfect with it. My friend had ordered the 600g Bone-In Sirloin which filled almost the entire dinner plate. It looked fantastic and I’m assured it tasted just as good. I have to admit I think after our first bites of meat we actually high-fived across the table – but don’t tell anyone! She opted for the Bone Marrow Gravy with her steak and it took all my energy to stop myself picking up the gravy boat it came in and pouring it all straight into my mouth.
The sides at Hawksmoor is where the real fun happens. Friends who’d been previously suggested I try the Triple Cooked Chips, and I shall not take issue with them on that – they were delicious. They also demanded I try the Macaroni Cheese side. Heavens ABOVE! This is the best macaroni cheese I have ever, EVER tasted. I’ve always held my own mac’n’cheese dish miles high above any other I’ve tasted, but I surrender my crown to Hawksmoor on this front.
My only regret is that my friend and I shared our sides as I could have happily eaten a whole portion (plus half of hers). The steamed spinach side was also delicious as the leaves still retained some of their original shape and had a bit of bite to them rather than having turned into a sloppy, goopy green mess like far too many other places serve spinach.
Embarrassingly, both my friend and I have recently bought the Hawskmoor At Home book (which I HIGHLY recommend – I’ve eaten a couple of dishes from it already and they were both fantastic. Although, it’s worth making a special trip to The Ginger Pig or an equally good butcher as the quality of the meat will make all the difference). Each time the waitress came to clear our plates throughout our meal, I’ll admit I did enthusiastically ask if each thing I’d eaten was in the cookbook I had at home. I can only but dream of ever being able to cook it as well as the guys in the kitchen at Hawksmoor, but as long as I have a recipe for their Macaroni Cheese side I can sleep easy at night.
Despite both bulging at the seams after our starter and mains, the dessert menu (and persuasive waitress – darn her!) managed to persuade us into sharing a couple of scoops of Salted Caramel ice-cream for dessert. Once again…a speech-defying moment….it was the absolute, utmost, undeniably best salted caramel ANYTHING I’ve ever eaten – and I’ll pretty much eat anything with the words ‘salted’ and ‘caramel’ in it.
After dessert we decided that it was probably best to leave. I needed to retire home and just lay on my bed stroking my gargantuan tummy after that visit. At £70 per head it was still an expensive meal out considering we didn’t have wine. However, we did feast on 2 glasses of champagne, 2 starters, 2 steak mains, 3 sides and a dessert. I wouldn’t surrender a penny if it meant I had to give any of it back. It was marvellous. Best steak? I’m not willing to commit to saying yes, but Best Overall Steak Meal Experience? Hell yeah.