I’d vaguely heard that there was a new Hawksmoor at the bottom of Regent Street but I didn’t really know. Obviously, I should have known about the soft opening on November 1 and should have had my table booked as soon as the opening was announced, but I also have a day job and sometimes that gets in the way.
And I warn you now, although you have probably spotted it yourself, but there are very few pictures in this review. That’s because it was too dark to take any decent ones and you know what a perfectionist I am.
I was out with two bankers again – this time a couple. They work for different banks, both of which are clients. As they kindly pointed out to me, you get to entertain two banks for the price of one. Result.
And I’ve been to this place before, oooh in about 1990, because it has seen a number of restaurants come and go, but I hadn’t been back since. Apparently, it was the former office of British Airways, not that you’d know it – here you step right into the 1930s . The restaurant is done out in green leather and dark wood and it’s very effective. It’s a massive space - 235 covers – but it’s broken up into different sections, so doesn’t feel like an aircraft hangar (did you see what I did there?).
If you’ve been to any of the other Hawksmoor branches (and if not, I suggest Covent Garden) , you’ll know that it’s all about the steak . Not here though. They’ve teamed up with Mitch Tonks to consult on their fish offering and very good it is too. The fish is generally done like the steak, simply and on charcoal. It’s a good tactic, offering fish, and opening the restaurant up to non meat- eaters means that they are likely to get more covers. But really, the Hawksmoor brand is all about the steak and to me, they rise or fall on that.
And the steak is great, if expensive. My only quibble, on a perfect piece of steak, was that having asked for medium-rare, it was actually pretty damn rare, but as I was sharing, I didn’t want to send it back and when I’m entertaining, I don’t like complaining, or at least not about the food.
But I get ahead of myself. We started with pork ribs, smoked salmon and chicory salad. Not all on one plate, naturally. All of them were good, simple dishes with fresh ingredients and decent accompaniments. And then sea-bream and a porterhouse steak. The curiously-named Jansson’s temptation got a particular mention – it’s a variety on the classic dauphinoise, with a few anchovies. It was excellent.
We also had sides of spinach and of course, chips. We had a little malted vinegar drama. I know, middle class problems. We asked for it and we knew that the purple-coloured vinegar delivered wasn’t the thing, despite their protestations. Eventually, persisting, we got it. These things matter with chips. And their own tomato sauce. Call me a complete and utter pleb, (it seems to be the rage) but I prefer Heinz. Okay shoot me now.
And because we were stuffed, we only had one dessert and some salted caramel Rolos. I wonder whether they can actually call them Rolos if they aren’t actually Rolos. I’m thinking passing off and other such things, but that is the sad life of a lawyer. Never off duty.
Anyway they brought us four. I’ve seen from other reviews that they usually bring three and I like to think that there was an unusual level of care in bringing us four because we were sharing. Leave me with that illusion please.
And the Jaffa cake dessert was an oh my god. Sounds of deep joy emanated from the other side of the table, with insistence that we try it. Oh my God, he was right. Worth going back just for that I’d say.
Not cheap, but then you know that when you go there. And different to the other ones, less gritty, more sophisticated; it will appeal to a different audience. Women, for a start. It feels more female-friendly, compared to the testosterone haven that is Hawksmoor Guildhall, for example. This is a sophisticated and interesting steakhouse, in an impressive location. Given that it was less than a month since it opened and was already pretty full by 8 PM, my guess is that they’ll do well here and so they should.