Where I ate:
Hawksmoor Seven Dials, Langley Street, London
Last Thursday, Jake and I went to see Matilda the Musical at the Cambridge Theatre. As the show was starting at 7:30pm, we needed somewhere to eat beforehand and because the area is generally always so busy, needed to book in advance. Jake booked us a table at the Seven Dials branch of Hawksmoor for 5pm, although we arrived slightly later (thanks to a trespasser on the line at one of the tube stations).
Upon arrival, we were greeted by the reservations manager who took and hung up my coat before guiding us downstairs where the waiter took us to the table. The restaurant is underground and so, is quite dark. It’s really open plan with the bar on one side, the kitchen on another and we sat on the far side, next to the (extensive!) wine cellar. The site is a former brewery and you can definitely tell, the layout reflects it, if that makes sense? There’s a sort of mysterious feel, but the overall ambience is really relaxed.
What I drank:
Garden Party (White Port, Redcurrant Campari & Prosecco, strirred with Cucumber)
A very English version of Milan’s Sbagliato, a drink that translates as plain ‘wrong’ – after a bartender at Bar Basso mistakenly used sparkling wine in a Negroni in place of gin. First mixed by Adam McGurk at Hawksmoor Air Street.
Hawksmoor have a really extensive cocktail and wine list, with prices you’d expect from the area. Even though I perused the menu before we went, I still had no idea what cocktail I was going to choose – and ended up panicking, picking the first I saw. Obviously it didn’t go with steak at all and was more suited to being an aperitif. I’d describe Garden Party as a posher, boozier Pimm’s. It was very fresh and wasn’t as fruity as I was expecting. It was lovely though – definitely a sippy drink.
What I ate:
Rib eye steak (cooked blue) with peppercorn sauce and beef dripping fries, followed by peanut butter shortbread
Hawksmoor offer a pre- and post-theatre menu, well priced at £24 for two courses, or three courses at £27. If you’re in a hurry like we were, I’d definitely recommend choosing from the express menu; while at the other end of the spectrum, if time is your friend and you’re in a big group, there are so many sharing options. I’m already hoping to have my birthday at Hawksmoor, with a kilo and a half of Chateaubriand. The weights of the steaks are even written on chalkboards around the restaurant, so you can choose your preferred option.
I didn’t fancy any of the starters, so went straight in with the main – what was supposed to be a 250g rib eye, actually transpired to be 400g... and I polished the lot! Each express main comes with your choice of a side dish and I chose the beef dripping fries, for something different. The steak was the best I’d ever had – both in England and abroad – it was cooked to perfection, the most incredible cut and quality, and the photo just doesn’t do it justice. I don’t think I can even explain how amazing it was – but I thoroughly recommend you check it out. The fries too, were so good – really crisp – but plenty for two to share. I swamped both in peppercorn sauce, which wasn’t too rich, with a peppery punch.
With three desserts on the menu, there was only one option for me: the peanut butter shortbread. I had high expectations after the steak and this didn’t let me down. It was basically a giant crown-shaped shortbread biscuit with a sweet filling of peanuts and salted caramel, accompanied with a scoop of ice cream. It was really rich and sweet, but wickedly moreish. The ice cream simply melted because the biscuit was fresh from the oven. A perfect ending to a perfect meal.
Our waiter was brilliant from start to finish, he was keen in hearing our evening plans, but was also professional and efficient. There was a slight query regarding our bill, but he dealt with it quickly and with minimum fuss. An optional 12.5% service charge is added to the bill, I’d happily pay that and more in terms of quality and service. The fact that my steak probably came to £15 is just remarkable. I can’t wait to return to Hawksmoor!