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Hawksmoor – eaten and reviewed

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Steaks! You either love them or you hate them but at times you just need to have one. A nice medium rare steak, cut with a nice big steak knife always makes me think I am a caveman, eating my catch and enjoying it (though thankfully for everyone involved with more clothes and less hair). Hawksmoor has received much praise in my restaurant bible (TimeOut), being called not only the second best steak restaurant in London but also the second best bar. Would they get a good review from Ross though!?

To summarise

157 Commercial Street, The City,E1 6BJ

Not sure if the title of TimeOuts award of 2nd best steak restaurant in London is warranted but sometimes a good big steak is just the thing you need after a hard days work! Rather strange atmosphere (is the place a bar or a restaurant!?!?!) and rather cramped feeling dining room didn’t impress but the portion sizes and quality of meat is sure to put a smile on peoples faces.

Ross says – 6 out of 10

To waffle

Grilled shrimp - big and tasty but messy to eatBig rib-eye steak, juicy, well cooked and did I say big!?While Hawksmoor is billed as an American restaurant the only things I could see which related it to America were the selections of beers. This place is very much a meat-lovers restaurant, with meat coming from the Ginger Pig (made famous on one of Jamie Oliver’s shows) they “can get any cut of meat for your meal” (as long as you give them 48 hours notice). While I do like a good T-Bone I thought the menu was good enough to not take them up on that offer.

Situated in the City and a five minute walk from Liverpool Street Station, Hawksmoor is rather unfortunately situated on a rather busy road and looks more like an dirty bar with slats on the windows and a couple of metal/glass swing doors. My feeling that the rather low ceilings, poles from floor to ceiling and a cream/brown colour scheme left the place feeling rather dark and cramped further fuelling my feeling that really this is a bar which also does food. It wasn’t the best of days outside though so maybe this didn’t help things…

The menu is nice and compact with about 8 starters, 8 mains and 6 desserts – again remember that they will also obtained specialist cuts of meat on request. Taking a grilled theme you know that the ingredients are being billed as the star, they are going to be cooked well, seasoned up and served in a no-nonsense manner. With it being so small I basically knew from the start what I was going to order, I went for:

  1. Grilled shrimp
  2. Rib-eye steak (medium rare)
  3. Sides of Chips and broccoli
  4. Tarte tatin with ice-cream (I didn’t really need this but the wine was kicking in by then…)

Steak sizes were pretty big (as always I went for their biggest steak) so I was well fed but thankfully not stuffed as I have been in the past. Both meats (shrimps – big shrimps, not tiny little ones like I was expecting, in fact do Americans call prawns shrimps?? and steak) were cooked and seasoned really well. Maybe my steak was a tiny bit burnt but I’m guessing this was a deliberate char-grilled effect. Both courses also came with a selection of sources, the best of which was lovely, rich gravy for the steak that added a little extra bit of flavour to the already flavourful food. All good tasty stuff.

All in all I would say that the place was good, just good. Nothing about the place was really awful but equally nothing about the place jumped out and made me think that I was having the meal of my life. The restaurant itself was good, though I felt that the fact that there were people going there just to drink at the bar had a bit of an adverse effect on the atmosphere. It might be that I am getting used to having big flavours in my food nowadays but while my steak was indeed good it didn’t excite me all that much (even with lashings of rich gravy!) – maybe I was expecting too much after reading about its awards in TimeOut, maybe I rely on that book too much….

Tags food, London restaurants, Hawksmoor, restaurant reviews, steaks