Ever since an expert in Porto told me I had very masculine taste in their eponymous drink, I’ve come to the conclusion that accepted feminine sensibilities about food don’t quite ring true for me. Which is partly why I jumped at the chance to have dinner at the new branch of steak restaurant Hawksmoor in Seven Dials, Covent Garden. Having sampled their Spitalfields branch a few months ago, I knew that the quality of their meat is second to none, and their cocktail list makes Tom Cruise’s Brian Flanagan look like a child playing at potions. So could this second restaurant live up to its city cousin? The steaks, if you’ll forgive the unforgivable pun, were high.
The Hawksmoor at Seven Dials is housed in the old Watney Combe brewery, and they’ve certainly got a reputation to live up to. The brewery’s original owner back in the 1800s set up an annual steak supper – famous for its generous beef steaks and servings of ale, it played host to several royals over the years. Owners Will Beckett and Huw Gott have stayed true to the original theme, furnishing the dining room with reclamation scuffed parquet flooring, doors and tables so the restaurant has none of the uncomfortable gleam you so often get in new establishments.
The menu is to die for – bold, uncomplicated dishes speaking of a kitchen so happy with the quality of its ingredients, it doesn’t need to dress them up. Six Cumbrae oysters were sweet, clean, everything they should be, and clams in bacon bone broth were full of flavour without being overly salty.
But of course, you come here for the steak. Sourced from Longhorn cattle reared in Yorkshire for butchers The Ginger Pig, the meat is almost embarrassingly well hung, with a rich gamey flavour and a pure hit of smoke from what must be a hellishly hot grill. Blackened and charred on the outside, it was the perfect pink inside that I have been striving for since cooking school. My rib-eye was as tender as fillet, and the sirloin, though rarer than we’d anticipated, was all the better for it. Bearnaise and their heavenly stilton hollandaise were faultless, and the herbed salad provided an excellent foil to the richness of the meat.
A word on the chips though. Go for the beef dripping – they’re infinitely superior to the triple cooked option; crisp, fat and fluffy, and just begging to be dipped into those butter sauces.
Sticky toffee pudding and quince crumble were both delicious, although to be honest we were pretty finished off by the steaks.
My only small criticism would be the service, which was rather too slow at the beginning (and there was quite a debacle about a cocktail), but picked up as the evening progressed so really wasn’t a big deal.
All in all, the best meal I’ve had in absolutely ages, and one of the most fun places I’ve been for dinner. The wine and cocktail lists are wonderful, a tiny bit light on the vodka, but they still rustled me up a bloody good martini. It’s not cheap, expect to pay around £150 for two with wine and cocktails, but then when the food is so exceptionally good, I really think the price tag is justified!
11 Langley St, WC2H 0207 856 2154, thehawksmoor.com