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Hawksmoor

157 Commercial Street, London, England, E1 6BU, United Kingdom

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The idea here is plain and simple: to serve great steaks. Such a concept lives or dies by the quality of the meat, and fortunately they have chosen a good butcher, the Ginger Pig, as their sole supplier. The beef was Longhorn cattle from Yorkshire, the meat aged 28 days. Note that for fillet you typically have to order in advance, though tonight they had some in stock. Generally the cuts are sirloin, rib-eye, rump and hangar. I tried a cep salad to begin with. This had decent rocket leaves and pleasant cep, but there was hardly any salad dressing (12/20). A very simple pair of grilled prawns were of good quality but were a fraction overcooked, served with good home made mayonaisse (13/20). 

We tried both fillet and rump steaks. Both were really excellent, the rump in particular havng terrific flavour (17/20).  These were accompanied by some triple cooked chips that were less good than I recall from the last visit (12/20), some rather soggy greens and a really good macaroni cheese (15/20). A tarte tatin was rather ordinary, though an ice cream sundae look nice at least. The moral of this is to pretty much stick to the fine steak here and enjoy the fairly priced wines.  Service was friendly and reasonably efficient. To drink we had the superb Alion from Vega Sicilia, which is listed at £75 here yet retails at £38 or more. This level of markup up (twice retail) is fairly general on the excellent list and is perhaps the lowest you will encounter in a London restaurant.

Below are notes from a meal in May 2007, by way of comparison.

There are a few token dishes other than the main event. I started with grilled scallops and salad which had a smear of salsa verde; the slices of scallop were not generous in size but were correctly cooked, though the scallops themselves were nothing special (12/20).  My companion's two ribs of Tamworth pork were reportedly a better bet. The fillet steak was very good indeed, the meat having a pleasing amount of fat in it and had fine flavour; the texture was excellent (16/20). The triple cooked chips that accompanied the steak (£3 extra) were not a patch on the ones at the Fat Duck on which they are modelled, but were still good (14/20). Steamed greens were a little soggy though macaroni cheese was reasonable. The steak came with a little tub of decent Bearnaise sauce and also home-made ketchup.

For dessert we shared apple and rhubarb crumble, which had a nice crust and properly cooked fruit inside (14/20). A glass of Bonny Doon vin de Glacier at £5.50 with this went down well. Starters are priced between £6.50 and £8.50, the standard steaks between £16.50 and £25 (the fillet steak we had was £30, and this was plenty for two), desserts £5 - £6. Service was friendly and capable.

I should mention the wine list, which although small is one of the best I have seen in London. The grower selection can hardly be improved upon, with Bonny Doon, Au Bon Climat, Ridge, Petaluma etc. For treats they have the rare Kistler Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay 2004 at £110 (a real bargain given the retail price of £94) while the rare 1994 vintage of Vega Sicilia Unico is £225 against a retail price (if you can find it) of £181.  At more modest levels, Bonny Doon Cigare Volant at £47.50 compares to a retail price of around £20. It is such a pleasure to see good wines priced in a way that does not make your eyes water when you order. Inevitably this encourages you to order better wines and enjoy the evening more.

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