A while back, I wrote up the Beeffanatic review of the Hawksmoor burger which became my favorite burger in all of London. You can read that post here, but it seems fitting that on (or about) the 10th anniversary of Hawksmoor this post will focus on their steaks.
Hawksmoor started from humble beginnings and has grown to include six prime London steakhouses – and most recently announced that they will cross the pond and open a New York location… more on that later! The Hawksmoor is one of my favorite steaks in London – they manage to stand out in a particularly crowded field of upscale steakhouses across the capital and they do so without being pretentious. Hawksmoor’s steaks are perfectly cooked, deliciously juicy and wonderfully flavorful.
The friendly rivalry that has sparked between steak restaurants like Hawksmoor, Goodman, and Gaucho (with some other one-off players also) has really driven an evolution in the London steak scene. They push one another to be innovative, excellent and above all, produce a better steak than the capital has seen in its history.
Hawksmoor gets it’s excellent beef from the Ginger Pig butchery. Ginger Pig raises its livestock up in Yorkshire and supplies meat to both Hawksmoor and Honest Burger. The Ginger Pig started off over 20 years ago and, at the time of writing, own seven London butcher shops – supplying top-quality restaurants from their 3000 acres of Yorkshire Moorland. They raise their herds of longhorns, shorthorns and Galloway livestock on just grass and hay and dry age the meat before it makes its way down to Hawksmoor restaurants.
This is British beef at its best – pure breeds, fed on grass and dry aged. Let me drop some cow-knowledge on y’all: many modern cow farms cross-breed their cattle for size and fatten them using grain feeds. Many farms use additives in the feed, or even growth hormones to ensure the cows get huge at a young age and can be slaughtered – this is mass production and it’s not great for an excellent burger or steak. Many of these same butchers either don’t age their steak at all, or ‘wet-age’ the beef to minimize weight-loss; which of course means they can sell more kilograms of beef. Ginger Pig is one of a few British meat producers who still use traditional methods that produces superior flavour in the end-product. This is why Hawksmoor chooses their beef, with glorious results.
I’ve had the pleasure of dining at three of Hawksmoor’s six London restaurants. And I’ve been lucky enough to eat their ribeye steak, porterhouse steak and bone-in prime rib on these dinner occasions. All were glorious examples of what good beef, prepared correctly can be: tender, flavorful, juicy and rich – slightly charred outside and wonderfully reddish pink on the inside.
The restaurants themselves all have a unique look and feel; variations on a theme of top-class steakhouses. The Seven Dials location is completely underground in what once was the Watney-Combe brewery. It’s beautifully lined with dark wood and framed by old bricks with centuries of character. The Air Street restaurant near Piccadilly is an art deco wonderland, straight out of the Great Gatsby. From the winding, grand staircase up to the bar and restaurant, you feel like it’s the 1920s and 30s coming to life with vertical decor and green-leather seating. Guildhall in the City feels, well, British! From it’s square cut glass doors to the chipping white tiles lining the service areas, Guildhall is a City lunchers dream that happens to sit right by the Guildhall market, turned posh shopping experience.
It’s no secret that I’m a ribeye man. The ribeye steak is basically a rib steak with the bone removed and Hawksmoor makes a great one. It’s a tricky cut because the of the fat marbling in the meat; one has to cook it enough to allow this to melt and impart its flavour, but not too much or you end up with a chewy piece of meat. Hawksmoor is one of those places that really knows how to do a perfect medium ribeye.
The Porterhouse (shown twice) is a T-bone steak, but at a larger scale and generally served for two. Be careful who you choose to share with though, otherwise you’ll be fighting each other for this Hawksmoor delight. A porterhouse cut has sirloin on one side and some filet on the other, making for a perfect combination of taste and tenderness. Hawksmoor allows you to order by the 100g portion – but no smaller than 500g so bring a monstrous appetite or a small lady-friend.
I love Hawksmoor – no matter what the location, the experience and the meat are wonderful. I hesitate to label them as the best in London, but they are up there with the best of the best. Take your time, don’t be in a rush when you dine there. Take on the staff’s recommendations if you’re unsure of yourself – trust me, they know their stuff. Enjoy a nice red wine, some decadent sides and chew slowly.
Happy tenth birthday to the Hawksmoor group!! You can visit their website here.
and now back to that New York thing…
About a year ago the landlord of the flagship restaurant space in the new World Trade Center in New York approached Hawksmoor about opening their first North American restaurant there. Opening a steakhouse in New York, the “spiritual home of the steakhouse”, is a daunting offer, but one that Hawksmoor are taking on! They will occupy a 14,000 square foot space in a new NYC landmark that has risen from the ashes of perhaps the world’s most famous site. The Hawksmoor NYC will open for business in 2017 and hopefully achieve the same level of acclaim that the London locations have.