Hawksmoor Spitalfields Restaurant and Bar

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Restaurant and Bar was 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.

Lobster roll

Lobster roll

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Sophie’s Steakhouse – Chelsea

A recent Sunday lunch at Sophie’s Steakhouse in Chelsea revealed it to be a noisy family affair with swarms of children flying around. I adore kids, but if you’re looking for a quiet relaxing Sunday lunch, the Chelsea branch of Sophie’s Steakhouse might not be the best place to head. The fact that service wasn’t at its most efficient didn’t help either. The restaurant could probably have done with more front-of-house staff.

We kicked off with some pan-fried king prawns (6) with chilli & garlic (£14.95) which were of a decent quality. But the prawns were under seasoned and not particularly garlic-y.

Pan-fired king prawns

Pan-fired king prawns

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Cau Restaurant

Cau Restaurant is a new chain of Argentinean steakhouses by the people behind Gaucho. Cau (cleverly pronounced as ‘cow’) stands for Carne Argentina Única. The restaurant targets a more regional market, and the first UK branch is in Guildford which I visited. There is also another branch in Amsterdam.

The concept behind the Cau restaurant brand is far quirkier and more casual than Gaucho. This is evident in the restaurant’s design with the grass images on the ceilings and the sky blue walls. Waiters and waitresses wear ‘cauboy’ and ‘caugirl’ T-shirts which I thought was particularly fun. This is very much a family type restaurant and the amicable and pleasant service was testimony to this.

We started with a sweet potato salad with mixed greens and chorizo (£4.95) and a crab salad with baby gem lettuce (£6.50). Both salads lacked for dressing and both contained avocado which hadn’t ripened properly. There was far too much lettuce in the latter, and I would have also preferred more crab.

Sweet potato salad

Sweet potato salad

Crab salad

Crab salad

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Hawksmoor Seven Dials

Hawksmoor Seven Dials is a pretty cool restaurant. The vibe is chilled, the service is relaxed and I loved, loved the plentiful options on the menu. There’s a good range of starters, steaks with optional add-ons, not to mention other ‘stuff’ for non-steak eaters such as chicken, and an array of sides. The cocktails sound great too.

Sitting in the bar meant we had access to the bar menu as well as the main restaurant menu, and for our starter we shared a lobster roll (£25) which was only listed on the bar menu. This dish is based on the lobster roll from a tiny lobster shack in Wiscasset, Maine where a whole lobster is served with garlic and hazelnut butter in a soft toasted bun with béarnaise on the side. It was easy to see why the Hawksmoor has adopted this recipe as it was simply delicious. Chunky pieces of tender lobster claw and tail meat were piled high in a scrumptious, almost brioche-like bun. A touch more seasoning was needed, but the sweetness of the lobster and the nutty flavour of the melted butter running through the soft roll created something of a dreamy delight.

Lobster roll

Lobster roll

Hawksmoor steaks uses Longhorn cattle sourced from The Ginger Pig in North Yorkshire and are dry aged for at least 35 days. We were bowled over by the size of a bone-in sirloin (£29 for 600g). The bone was virtually non-existent, and the two of us fed off almost 600g of meat which confirmed to us that it had been a good idea to share. The steak was slightly chewy even though it was cooked to our requested medium rare. But we enjoyed the roasted bone marrow ‘add-on’ (£3) which was soft and gooey and served from the bone with a spoon.

Bone-in sirloin

Bone-in sirloin

Bone marrow

Bone marrow

I adored the triple cooked chips (£4) which were super, super crunchy, and extremely well made. The bar menu includes an option for a dipping sauce for the chips (not listed on the main restaurant menu), and we selected the stilton hollandaise. The stilton flavour was subtle and helped to produce a fantastic sauce that worked well with the acidity and creaminess of the hollandaise.

For dessert, a delightful cornflake ice cream tasted ‘just’ like cornflakes, and was highly enjoyable. The cornflake flavour was subtle and did not overpower the ice cream.

Cornflake ice cream

Cornflake ice cream

Surprisingly, the dish I liked least was the steak. The bone-in sirloin wasn’t bad, but given that the Hawksmoor is a steakhouse, I had expected a piece of meat with a more melt-in-your-mouth effect. But I loved every other aspect of this meal. The lobster roll was divine, the chips were fantastic as was the accompanying stilton hollandaise, and the ice cream was wonderfully clever. The service was pleasant and attentive, and overall the experience was a resounding success. The Hawksmoor Seven Dials is definitely onto a winning formula. I’d happily hop along again.

To read my review of the Hawksmoor on Commercial Road, click here.

Website: http://www.thehawksmoor.co.uk/seven-dials


Summary information

Food rating: 4/5
Service rating: 4/5

Price range: Between £30 – £50 for three courses. Excludes drinks and service.

Hawksmoor (Seven Dials) on Urbanspoon

Square Meal


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Restaurante Brasil Legal – Salvador, Brazil

Steak

Steak

In the time that I have been in Salvador, the churrascaria, Brasil Legal, has became something of a favourite. Unlike Boi Preto, the churrascaria that I talked about in my last blog post, Brasil Legal is no high end eating establishment. The décor is not flash. Here you won’t get any table service other than for drinks. There are no passadores (meat waiters) who come to your table to offer you meat. Instead, you must go to the meat station to collect it yourself.

Meat station

Meat station

But what makes this place so great is the price. An all-you-can-eat lunch will set you back R$11 for the food and R$2.50 for a drink (total R13.50) which is about £5. When you consider that this is cheaper than a McDonald’s Big Mac meal which costs R$14, there really is no reason you should ever eat at McDonald’s in Salvador again. This place is cheap, cheap, cheap.

I don’t always advocate cheap places – I believe in quality over quantity. But here at Brasil Legal, the food is pretty good. The restaurant offers 25 different types of salads including a variety of fruit, 16 different cooked dishes, four types of meat (steak, chicken, sausage and chicken hearts) and desserts when available. Eating at Brasil Legal is a pretty addictive experience, especially when you consider that for nearly next to nothing you can eat pretty good food and fill your tummy to the brim. It’s a place that I’ve been coming to regularly for a late lunch so that I can eat myself silly after a hard day at the beach. In fact, I’ve been here about eight times, during which time I have sampled just about everything that the restaurant has to offer.

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Hawksmoor Steakhouse

A fantastic summer berry fool

A fantastic summer berry fool

The lovely people from Gekko invited me out to dinner last week. They like my blog and wanted to chat to me about potentially linking to my reviews on their hotel and restaurant website. I was pretty chuffed. It’s really rewarding to get positive feedback from readers to a point where they like what you do and want to get involved with you.

Their restaurant of choice was The Hawksmoor, a British steakhouse on Commercial Road. In a split second decision that would haunt me, I decided to drive rather than to take the tube. A combination of bad traffic and getting lost worked against me and I ended up being 45 minutes late. Surely this is not a way to make an impression on people you haven’t yet met. But like I said, the crowd from Gekko are really lovely and they were entirely understanding of the situation.

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