Posted on Monday, 30th April 2012
Spitalfields is home to the original Hawksmoor, the hugely popular steak restaurant that paved the way for the other Hawksmoor branches in Seven Dials Covent Garden and Guildhall. My first visit to the Hawksmoor at Spitalfields proved to be a good, if slightly inconsistent experience. But when I tried the fabulous lobster roll at the Seven Dials branch, I became a fan of the Hawksmoor brand.
The Spitalfields branch recently launched a bar extension in its basement with 60 covers. Its focus is the bar (rather than food as is case with the restaurant upstairs) and it offers a selection of carefully selected cocktails, some of which date back to the original 2006 Hawksmoor cocktail list. The bar suits the Spitalfields area. It’s cool and chilled, and relies on the use of reclaimed materials to give it a slightly grungy look. There is also a bar menu which is quite distinct to the upstairs dining menu, with more snack-type eats to complement the drinks in the bar. It features a compilation of sandwiches, and more importantly, includes a lobster roll (£15). One cannot order from the main restaurant menu in the bar or vice versa.
It may seem funny that the item I enjoyed the most at a steak restaurant was their lobster, but the one I had at The Hawksmoor Seven Dials was truly glorious. The portion of juicy, tasty lobster was generous, and it was served on a brioche bread roll that was to die for. Finally it had been dressed with an decadent quantity of unctuous butter which turned this into something incredibly satisfying and addictive. Yum. Anyway, the one at Hawksmoor Spitalfields bar.was decent, but a little dry. Also, the brioche wasn’t quite to the standard set by Seven Dials. It only cost £15 rather than the £25 at Seven Dials, but it was also a smaller portion.
Heading upstairs, I found the dining room to be bigger and far cosier than I last remembered and the restaurant has an urban sophistication that didn’t seem to exist a few years ago. To starters, I was very impressed with the generosity shown in a crab and samphire salad. For £10, there was a lot of fresh, good quality crab. The red meat of the crab was also very impressive with its smooth and creamy overtones and no hint of bitterness. However, the salad needed a touch of acidity and the samphire was a little tough, but otherwise this was a very good dish.
Also impressive was the smoked salmon with potato farl and a pea salad (£10). The smoked salmon was of a very good quality, the salad was fresh like spring, and the potato farl was rustic and tasty with a crispy exterior.
Steaks of bone-in sirloin (£30 – 600gm) and rib-eye (£28 – 400gm) were hearty in size and full of flavour. The sirloin was so tender you could cut it with the back of your knife. The rib-eye erred on the rare side rather than the requested medium rare, but was delicious nonetheless. And the leftovers which I took home in a goodie bag tasted just as fabulous the next day.
A side serving of bone-in marrow (£4) was nicely roasted and soft like butter. Triple cooked chips (£4) were super crunchy, and buttered spring greens (£4) were nicely cooked to yield a little bite.
We tried three different flavours of ice cream – vanilla, corn flake and chocolate (£3 a scoop). All were nice and creamy. The sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream (£6.75), accompanied by lashings of rich sweet sauce, also went down well.
The service was pleasant and efficient. Our waitress did a good job of recommending a wine that was well suited to our steaks in the price bracket that we were considering, the A Lisa from Bodega Noemia, Patagonia Argentina 2010 (£45).
All in all, this was a very, very good dining experience. There is a little something for everyone. You can have snack-type foods downstairs or restaurant dining with fine steaks upstairs. Or if a drink followed by dinner is your poison, then the new bar at The Hawksmoor Spitalfields does a good job of accommodating this.
Restaurant Link: http://thehawksmoor.com/locations/spitalfields
Bar Link: http://thehawksmoor.com/spitalfieldsbar
Food rating: 4/5
Service rating: 3.5/5
Price range: £32 – £60 for three courses from the restaurant dinner menu. Excludes drinks and service.