Price: Moderate/Expensive* (£145/person)
Rating: 3 (out of 5)
I would normally try to avoid writing reviews on chain restaurants (now that there are five branches, I can’t but consider Hawksmoor a chain). It’s not that I have anything against them, I would just prefer to give independent restaurants more of an audience. But, with a £145 per person price tag this gives me a decent reason to do a review. Okay, so this meal is a little more expensive than “moderate”. However, there is some reasoning behind this.
This was not my first visit to a Hawksmoor, but tonight was something a little more special than usual. One of my best mates is getting married and this was where he chose to announce that we were going to be his groomsmen. As such, we decided to order the most expensive stuff on the menu (*hence a normal meal would probably be a lot cheaper and fit in the moderate/expensive price category).
Unlike most other chains, Hawksmoor differs in that each restaurant does not offer carbon copies of the same menus (aside from the superb steaks). During my previous visit to the Guildhall branch (I think this branch offers the largest choice of them all) I was impressed by not only the steaks, but the simply delicious and excellent value burger (on its bar menu – it contains seven different cuts of beef and bone marrow). There is even a beef tasting menu where you get to eat the cow from “tongue to tail” (epic!).
The Knightsbridge branch is laid back and pleasant (at the site of the former utterly dire “Frankie’s Bar & Grill”). There isn’t a trace of pretentiousness or snobbery despite the SW3 postcode, nor is there a horde of tourists in your immediate surroundings (the restaurant is down a side road off the main pitch).The drinks selection was pretty standard for a restaurant of this ilk (you can see the fine selection of spirits behind the bar dude). The bar guys are true mixologists which almost guarantees a decent refreshment. My Bloody Mary was pulled and poured rather than mixed or shaken thereby adding air to the cocktail (I don’t know if this really makes a difference, but it was a bloody good drink). Served with the customary accoutrements, this was such a great hangover cure!
We started our meal with a selection of oysters (six “Jersey Rocks” and six “Fine de Claires”), delicious. At £32 for the dozen, they cost a hell of a lot more than the oysters that can be had at the Whitstable Oyster Festival (however, you’ll only be able to get rocks at this).
Steak tartare and caviar was a slight disappointment. I would have rather had the two separately. Probably the most basic steak tartare I’ve had, it consisted of finely sliced beef with a raw egg in the middle and covered with a generous layer of caviar.
Shown above is a kilo of Chateau Briand (not much to say apart from “nice steak”) and devilled (Singapore-style) lobster. The lobster was probably my highlight of the evening (no disrespect to the kitchen, but this dish had the most amount of cooking skill attributed to it). The sauce was only slightly spicy, but full of deep flavours (I couldn’t get enough of it!).
While I like Hawksmoor (Knightsbridge), my preference would be to visit the one in Guildhall.