"We almost didn't put that on the menu - we thought "who'd have steak and half a lobster for breakfast?""
Will, co-owner of Hawksmoor, and I looked over in unison at TPG, a man up to his elbows in rib eye and lobster meat. There's always one in every crowd.
Hawksmoor is a steak house in East London famed for serving up great quality British beef, grilled on charcoal to blissful perfection. All meat is sourced from the Ginger Pig, and steaks are, patriotically, from Longhorn cattle, reared in Yorkshire and aged for around 35 days. On Saturday, we were there to test out the first trial run of Hawksmoor's new breakfast menu. Thus, the need for TPG to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the hefty surf 'n turf option.
The weekend brunch menu revolves around quality meat products and bears the usual array of Hawksmoor's staples - the steaks, the infamous burger - and some fabulous new additions such as my Sausage and Egg HK Muffin (£8) or (for £30) the full English for two - comprising a bone-in bacon chop, sausages (pork, beef and mutton), short rib bubble 'n squeak, grilled bone marrow, trotter baked beans, Bury black pudding, roast tomatoes, grilled mushrooms and endless thick slices of dripping toast... all with an onion and bone marrow gravy.
The HK muffin had wooed me from afar, practically wolf whistling from across the room on someone else's plate. It tasted as good as it looked. Two runny fried eggs are piled into a lovely thick grilled muffin bun with a spicy flat sausage made from pork, beef and mutton, all topped with Ogleshield cheese. The only slightest critique I can offer is that the sausage was slightly too "spiced up" for me. I added Ginger Pig bacon, which is the closest thing I've had to the best of Australia's mouthwatering bacon in this country.
TPG's steak was so sublime it made us seriously weak at the knees. Perfection. He had it medium, as recommended by our helpful waitress for the rib eye cut, to really get the fatty marbling melting through the meat. If you're a steak and eggs man, this one's for you. TPG saddled it up decadently with a half lobster (add 12 quid), which was slightly overcooked and rubbery. Still, nothing could detract from our adoration of the rest of his plate.
We teamed up our selections with some of HK's renowed fabulous drinks. I was feeling fiesty so opted for the Bloody Mary #10 - made with a refreshing cucumber hit and the bite of horseradish. Loved it!
TPG, predictably, could not go past the cornflake milk milkshake. That's right folks - the cornflakes are soaked in milk overnight, drained (there are no "bits" in it) and then the milk is used to make the ice cream for what is undoubtedly THE BEST FLAVOURED MILKSHAKE in the entire universe. It's even knocked Shake Shack's salted caramel from the top of the perch. This seems to be some variation on similar shakes offered at my beloved Momofuku Bakery in New York - an ingenious addition to the breakfast menu.
We eventually retired, content and bellies full, to the bar to watch the masterful hands of Shaky Pete at work. Pete is not only super friendly, but a cocktail guru. He whipped me up a refreshing ginger brew in no time - ginger, lemon, beer and other secret ingredients giving it a sassy sorbet texture. It's like the best shandy you've ever imagined. Highly recommended.
TPG obviously felt he needed to show his sophisticated side after the milk shake, and chose a superb armagnac. Layers of chocolate, toffee and other delights wafted up to the nose and romanced the palate. Gorgeous. We are hunting down a bottle for home (if only TPG had not washed since he wrote the name on his hand).
Pricing on the new day time menu seems fair. It's not a dirt cheap breakfast, but you're getting top quality ingredients, perfectly executed at a very reasonable price. It's good value. Even better was the pricing on Saturday since we were trialling the menu at a 50% discount to allow any kinks to be ironed out before the official launch this week on 13th March (although I've quoted the full prices here).
The worst thing about the new weekend brunch menu is the complete inability to decide what to have - what can't you live without? Other new lunch options include the roast beef (roasted on charcoal and finished in the oven to achieve that "roasted on a spit flavour") with dripping roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, carrots, greens and bone marrow & onion gravy. My stomach just rumbled while typing.
And, of course, there's the Hawksmoor burger. We had devoured one recently (Valentines Day doesn't get more romantic than this) and it certainly lives up to its reputation.
Gloopy, loosely packed meat from Longhorn cattle (a range of cuts) is enriched by globs of fatty bone marrow in the mix. A simple salad, pickles, mustard mayo and simple brioche bun are, idyllicly, the only distractions from the main game. On this occassion I was surprised to find the bun a little too much on the dry side (while some dryness is required to stand up to the juices, the bun seemed to lack freshness). However, flavourful, rich and decadent, the burger was up there with my all time favourites, and can only be rivalled in London by Goodman's (which is of a completely different style, but similar quality, as reviewed earlier here).
For £15, the burger comes with a choice of triple cooked thick cut chips or a gem salad. A no brainer, surely. Although, this time we went for one of each. I'm a fan of thick cut fries, and not afraid to say it. These were expertly cooked - crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. The salad was the real surprise here - there were no regrets for forgoing the second serve of chips. Fresh and mixed with chopped spring onion and zesty herbs. It was a tasty refresher.
So now I have an embarrassing schoolgirl crush on 2 London steak houses - Hawksmoor and Goodman (reviewed here). Service at both is super friendly and knowledgable. Hawksmoor feels more laid back and breezy, and a little less like a gentleman's club - although I've only been during the day. Its breakfast rocks, its burger is divine, its steaks are pure heaven from a grill. And it serves a white hot cocktail to suit any occassion - that's my kind of place. I can see myself becoming quite the regular here. Shaky Pete, save me a seat at the bar.
The weekend breakfast menu officially launches on 13th March 2010. It's going to be a winner. Bloody Mary #10 with your steak and eggs, anyone?
Hawksmoor, 157 Commercial Street, Shoreditch, London, E1 6BJ