Monday, 5 November 2012

Restaurant Review: Hawksmoor Air Street

A good bit of red meat. So necessary to make one happy. Having deprived myself of steak in the weeks ahead of my trip to Hawksmoor I was so ready for this...

The Hawksmoor Menu
Dressed for Dinner
The new Air Street branch specialises in seafood as well as meat, so we were going to go and try both. A  smorgasbord if you like. First up though the actual restaurant. Tucked just off Piccadilly on Air Street the entrance way is understated and very classy. I thought for a minute there was a buzzer system to get in the door after unsuccessfully pushing it a number of times then patiently waiting. Until someone PULLED it and it opened right up. Schoolboy error. Once inside the bar is almost saloon like. Lots of dark wood and green leather. Very old school chic.

The stained glass windows are a beautiful addition

We started in the bar for cocktails; I particularly liked the hour by hour justification on the cocktail menu. Both going for champagne, two very different drinks. The Dandy (front) won round 1, it was just garnished nicer than the Champagne Charlie!
Cocktail menu
Champagne Cocktails
The new direction towards seafood is very apparent right from the starters. Mainly comprising of seafood we opted for Queenie's (small juicy battered scallops to you and me) and potted beef with Yorkshire pudding and gravy, well it was Sunday...

When it arrived I must say I love a construct it yourself element to the beef. This was in a jar with two large yorkies and a generous jug of gravy. The Queenie's were presented in a glass with an equally large serving of tatare sauce.
Potted Beef Starter
Queenie's and Tatare Sauce

We assembled our beef dinners, very strange sensation as a starter! It was really tasty. Oniony gravy and tender beef. The only surprise was the Yorkshire puddings were cold. Quite unexpected and would have maybe been better warm.
DIY - Starters are Served
The Queenie's, no surprise here, they were delicious  Tender and fresh I could have eaten twice as many. The tatare sauce was complementary without being over powering. The seafood was winning so far.

Tempting as it was to go for turbot or monkfish it was all about steak tonight. Rib eye for me, D-Rump for H. On the side? Slightly different to the traditional; macaroni cheese and creamed spinach. We are nothing if not concerned about getting our 5 a day.
Rib-Eye. Hello there (Not for Veggies...)
On recommendation from the delightful Alex (our waiter) I opted for my steak to be cooked Medium but I'd say it was a French medium. Perfect as my usual cooking time is medium rare, this is why it always pays to ask. It was deliciously juicy with a fatty rim. The test of a good steak? It didn't NEED the sides. I was happily chomping down mouthfuls of pure red meat when I wasn't scooping up lashings of creamed spinach or mac and cheese.
Creamed Spinach, Mac 'n' Cheese and Peppercorn - what a trio
Heaven in a dish
To scale, this is a beast of a steak
The definition of Food Porn
A 'French' Medium. Perfectly cooked to me
The mac and cheese was the standout of the two sides, I could have eaten this all to myself. The spinach was good, but very creamed. Forget about your 5 a day in here.
Over exposure!

Once all 300gms was polished off I was completely stuffed. The red wine was going down slower and I really could have done with a tooth pick. Meat and spinach in the teeth is not a good look. If you are on a date or looking to impress, be warned the perils of things in teeth!

We needed a rest after this so quaffed the wine and perused the dessert menu. Having read all over the blogosphere and Twitter all about the Hawksmoor menu before I came, I KNEW it was all about the salted caramel rolos. When Alex came to take our order we asked him to guess what we were having; thinking he would go straight for these. He didn't. I hadn't even looked at the rest of the menu but he said something about peanut cookie and salted caramel ice cream and we were gone. Boy am I glad we were. It was delicious. Much softer than I expected with a warm chocolaty, nutty, caramelly centre and the delicious caramel ice cream. The rolos were patiently waiting for their turn.
Totally unnecessary. Totally delicious
Soft and gooey in the middle, just how you want them
When we got around to them? Every bit as good as you'd expect. They almost tasted of bonfire toffee. Slipping through your fingers due to the silky chocolate that coated thick, melt in the mouth caramel. I'm sure everyone will be making the same quip about not sharing your last rolo. No one is worth that.
I cannot do this justice, no matter what camera I use
Get. In. My. Mouth
The sensible thing to do now of course is simply groan about how full you are and slope off to a contented and stuffed sleep. Sensible isn't really our thing. Back to the bar for a couple of rounds of espresso martinis. Hands down the best espresso martini I've ever had. It is a mystery how it stayed so deliciously cold throughout. Could be the speed at which we were necking them. Also here's a random fact for you courtesy of the divine Tim Lovejoy: The three coffee beans swimming inside your cocktail? These represent health, wealth and happiness so make sure you crunch them down. Do not do this however if you want to sleep anytime soon.
Goodnight Hawksmoor
All in all a gorgeous restaurant worth every penny of the £2m investment (200k on stained glass windows alone). Price wise for a three course meal with wine / cocktails you are looking at around £150 for two; BUT there is an exceptional value theatre menu. The wine list starts at £18 (unheard of in central London) to £500. If you are looking for a steak you really can't go wrong here.

Booking advised - do so here

Atmosphere: 4/5 you can tell when they fully open the bar will be a very sophisticated watering hole
Food: 5/5 can't complain here, top notch steak
Drink: 5/5 a delicious cocktail list, vast wines at very reasonable prices
Overall: 5/5 highly recommended.
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