Last time I wrote about the London food bloggers’ beefy hero of Shoreditch, I was accused of snobbery. I was unkind to the waiting staff who I described as ‘skateboarders’ lacking coordination and worse, more dishevelled in appearance than most customers.
However, my steak was so mouth-wateringly, drool dribblingly, bib wettingly luscious, that Truly Scrumptious couldn’t have tempted me away from it, even if she had offered to blow my Toot Sweet in the back of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I had to come back for another try.
So, attired in my scruffiest jeans, muddy trainers, knee-pads and plastic helmet, I felt sure I would fit in this time. Arriving at the door I presented myself to the Maitresse d’Hôte. “Sorry darlin’ I’m just a customer heading for the loo” was the reply. When the real Tony Hawk turned up, my table was not ready, even though I had only booked it half an hour ago and turned up less than 5 minutes late. So I sat at the bar and enjoyed a Bloody Mary, surprisingly but enticingly spicily and tastily dressed with a fresh halved cherry tomato.
Truly, my complaints matter little, because the food is better than a Jack the Ripper mystery and that’s why, on a lonely, dark, October Monday night, it’s so hard to get a reservation.
Potted smoked mackerel was not only reminiscent of the smell of glorious Grimsby docks, it tasted of neatly trimmed, well, you know, and there is no finer compliment. The cheapest starter on the menu, at £5.50, it is about the price of a cover charge at a Caprice Holdings venue and, therefore, possibly one of the finest bargains in all of London cuisine.
The steak is not cheap but it is good value and sensibly, is sourced from the North of England, away from the smog. No pea-soupers in Yorkshire. I added steamed spinach and triple cooked fries hoping that they would cancel each other out in my hopeless diet. One of the finest steaks I have ever eaten. I don’t suppose Yorkshire folk would fork out the readies for this quality and, therefore, are more than ‘appy to export their best meat to London.
The most surprising happening of my evening was the wine intercourse. A Chilean Carmenère was equal to the best I have tasted. At £35, again a decent spend, but as my good Scouse mate Tony says, only budgies go cheep, and once again I plead guilty to calling for value over capital outlay.
Unlike my last visit where the wine was served at “skillet”, this time it was pulled out of a sophisticated wine fridge at “ambient”. I remarked how impressed I was that they even possessed a Combine Harvester, only to be rewarded with a “would you prefer it cooler, sir?” I requested 10 minutes in an ice bucket which received an understanding nod. Full marks from my #WART campaign! Not many restaurants in The British Isles get the importance of wine temperature.
I was further impressed when I asked for the Digestif list. So many restos can only offer blank looks, but Hawksmoor offers 5 pages of Bacchanalian funbags.
Although I finally elected to decline, I would have chosen an 8yo Bas-Armagnac. Possibly the cheapest, erm I mean best value after dinner drink from a quite expensive list.
My bill (for one) was within a couple of kickflips of £90, including service, which few of you will consider cheap, or even good value (trust me on this one, it is better value than Gaucho Grills and the wine markups are well on the shy side of Gaucho’s ‘outrageous’).
But you should find an excuse to come here at least once. There is a branch opening opposite Pineapple Studios in Covent Garden, which for many will be easier to get to than Ripper territory. You will spend the next month in delectable duodenal delight as your constitution digests the saignant 900 gram Porterhouse, or medium-rare 1.3kg Bone-in Prime Rib. It’s the foodie’s equivalent of a First Growth tasting.
How would I make Hawksmoor better? Here I get unpopular again. Surely the only improvement would be giving the punters a chance to more readily recognise the waiting staff. At this price and quality, it would be nice to see butcher’s aprons, Hawksmoor branded polo shirts, or at least matching knee pads.
157 Commercial Street
London E1 6BJ
T: 020 7247 7392