Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Hawksmoor Seven Dials

It's not every day I get to try a top-twenty UK restaurant (eighteenth according to last year's National Restaurant Awards) but hooray for birthdays, as on mine I got treated to dinner at Hawksmoor Seven Dials - happy days!

If you're eating at the Hawksmoor, you're eating steak. I had therefore thought my customary faffing around over the menu and angsting over meal envy wouldn't be an issue, having forgotten about their legendary cocktail list. Reminiscent of a time when cocktails were considered practically medicinal rather than served in fish bowls with umbrellas and sparklers, the list is divided into wonderfully-titled sections such as Antifogmatics and Pre-prandials, with fascinating little historical snippets about each drink. (The bar serves these with food from either the main menu or their bar food menu, which includes burgers, hot dogs and a whole grilled lobster in a bun with a side of BĂ©arnaise. In Arnie's immortal words, I'll be back.)

I eventually went for a Fancy Gin Cocktail (precursor of the martini, apparently, and delicious) before turning to thoughts of food. With steak as the main event, we chose a supporting cast we thought would complement it: dressed crab to start, Heritage tomato salad and triple-cooked chips to go with and peppercorn sauce on the side. The staff are attentive in that chilled, laid-back way I prefer and very knowledgeable, happy to advise on which cuts of steak are better cooked rare or medium and to help navigate their eclectic wine list. 
The £12 crab starter was comfortably enough for two people to share, particularly with a slab of steak on the horizon; impressive chunks of moist white meat on a base of dark, served with big slices of toasted sourdough bread. I love crab and as a regular visitor to Cornwall I have high expectations but this did not disappoint.
I had the fillet cooked rare to follow; this was awesomely good, the charcoal grill really adding texture and bringing out its full flavour, the meat just meltingly tender. Hawksmoor steaks come from Longhorn cattle (Heston Blumenthal's breed of choice for steak), reared by the incomparable Ginger Pig and dry-aged for 35 days; all I can say is that it is totally worth it. This was probably the best steak I have had in London  (there is a place in Argentina that carves it with a spoon, but that's another story). Right here, right now, Hawksmoor is where it's at. The chips are also excellent and the colourful tomato salad added just the right note of freshness and balance, aided and abetted by a glass or two of Syrah.

I don't normally do pudding - sweet enough, me - but didn't take much arm-twisting to try the intriguing option of cornflake jelly and ice cream. I was ambivalent about the jelly, but the ice cream was unexpectedly good; it sounds faddy, but the flavours really work. (Apparently they also do cornflake milkshakes, and why not? Bagsie me one of those on the next visit.) And bless, they not only wrote Happy Birthday round the edge in chocolate and served it with a candle, they were endearingly discreet about it. Hawksmoor, you're a class act.

Yours, another year on, 

Girl About Town xx

(Thank you for my cards guys - anyone see a theme?) :)

Square Meal 

Hawksmoor (Seven Dials) on Urbanspoon

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