It's not fancy, it's not big and it's not clever, but the scrag end is delicious. For simple, honest opinions on restaurants, recipes, supper clubs and what not, you've come to the right place.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Hawksmoor, 11 Langley Street, Covent Garden

If I was called Pete, I’d feel even better about Hawksmoor’s remarkable cocktail, Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew. After all, on Sunday at lunchtime I did feel somewhat shaky - a result of the excesses of the night before the night before. I’m also a teeny bit ginger (my facial hair, since you ask, and absolutely NOTHING else). And any brew worthy of the name gets my vote. It’s almost the perfect drink for yours truly, then, even if it is named after the barman who created it. 

Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew is truly the aperitif of gods. Unshaven, hungover gods perhaps, but gods nonetheless. This marvel contains gin, homemade ginger syrup, lemon juice, and a foamy London Pride top. They serve it in a glass with a proper handle too, the better to combat any tremors.

Anyway, Hawksmoor is principally known as a restaurant, so I’ll cease banging on about drinks. It’s famous for steak (and Kimchi burgers, if tweeting bloggers are anything to go by). We took advantage of their soft opening, which meant the food was 50 percent cheaper than it is now - good news for a tightwad.

As a result, we ordered extraordinary quantities of food and spent at least as much as we would have done had there not been a discount and we’d been watching our wallets. I had six Cumbrae rock oysters with sausages. The oysters were drowning in excess water, but otherwise delicious, while the sausages were the perfect fatty accompaniment. At £13 pounds (normally, £10 for oysters, £3 for sausages), these would be fine, but at £6.50, they were spectacular. We also ordered potted mackerel, which was large and tasty. It could probably have done with some more toast, but at £5.50 normally, you can hardly complain about that.

But who cares, really? It’s all about the beef. We went for a prime rib to share, with bearnaise sauce, steamed spinach, beef dripping chips and triple-cooked chips, and a side of bone marrow. You heard.

The beef was remarkable – fatty, beautifully pink and full of flavour, almost crispy on the outside with bags of lovely char taste. Also, there was loads of it – 1.2 kilos to be precise. This was a good thing, though also points to a slight quibble with Hawksmoor, at least during the soft opening.

We sat down for Sunday lunch at 1.30. By then, there were no porterhouse or prime rib cuts left at less than that weight. Between two, 1.2 kg is a bit of a stretch, and it would have been nice if the more popular weights (800g-1kg) were more readily available, especially since at normal prices, 1.2 kg would cost £72. That’s a figure to be reckoned with. I expect this is precisely the sort of thing that the soft opening is designed to identify, so it would be harsh to call it a problem, but I’d have certainly felt priced out of any of the sharing dishes if it had been a normal service – a shame, because the meat was truly brilliant.

At £3, the bone marrow side is laughably cheap – gooey, rich and stupidly moreish. Frankly, I’d have eaten four of five of these if I could. The beef dripping chips were super too – thick-cut and ballsy. Their thrice cooked cousins were slightly reserved by comparison, though still excellent. Spinach worked as a kind of annoying hippy at the meat feast – perfectly pleasant, but only really there to make you feel guilty about everything else.

We washed it all down with a bottle of Gayda (I laughed, but then I’m extremely silly). Punchy and nicely leathery, it was worth the £24 pounds we paid.

Taken on the terms it sets itself, Hawksmoor is more or less flawless. I can’t imagine you’ll ever find better beef in London, and the Seven Dials site looks the part and more. Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew may be the best cocktail I’ve had, though I don’t drink many. I hope to shake him by the hand next time I go. It’s not cheap, but for a memorable meal in Covent Garden, Hawksmoor is a must visit. They are going to clean up.

Phil Letts’ take: 8/10

Hawksmoor (Seven Dials) on Urbanspoon

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