Thursday, 18 November 2010

Hawksmoor, Seven Dials - Covent Garden

The kimchi burger - it's no oil painting,
but you can't fault the meat

The new Hawksmoor, Seven Dials in Covent Garden is a shiny, brassy counterpart to its more pared back Shoreditch mothership.

Located in the old Watney-Combe brewery, the front bar is dark, stylish and sophisticated. This is essentially a steak house (and a mighty fine one - I'll get to that later). But in the domain of proven bar man extraordinaire, Shaky Pete (who has moved over from the Shoreditch branch), we sip well made marmalade cocktails in martini glasses (£7.50) and some excellent lagers while making the most of Hawksmoor's superb bar menu.

I've sung the praises of the extraordinary Hawksmoor burger before, its juicy, loosely packed meat laden with fatty marrow to give it extra richness. Rob orders it here and gives it the thumbs up - it looks every bit as good as those I've had at Shoreditch. Now, there's also a choice of the Burger Van Burger (a stripped down version of the classic Hawksmoor burger) or the Kimchi burger. For something different, I go for the latter and it's certainly an eyeful. The meat is fantastic (no surprise there), and it's huge. However, I'm not a massive fan of the kimchi (a Korean dish of fermented cabbage and spices). Rich and tangy, it's nice enough on its own - but I find it quite overpowering with the burger. If I'd never met the original Hawksmoor burger, I would be writing home about this one now - it's good. But we've met, I'm smitten and so it's the original burger all the way for me.

The burgers come with a choice of thick, crunchy beef dripping chips (my choice - they're fantastic), triple cooked chips (both sorts of chips come with a gorgeous Stilton hollandaise) or a refreshing green salad. The latter may not sound as sexy but is terrific as far as greenery goes. (Burger and chips/salad is £15 - but, oh, it's worth it).

Lobster roll

TPG's lobster roll is a fine thing - generous pieces of sweet lobster are heaped into a long, warm, toasted brioche bun with garlic, hazelnut butter and mayo. Apparently, it's stuffed with a whole Dorset Blue. Strangely, there's a side of bearnaise which is excellent in its own right but I'm not sure what it's doing there with a lobster roll. The clincher is this baby is quite small for £25 and doesn't come with the side of chips or salad. In New York this week, I ate the lobster roll of my life (at Luke's Lobster, East Village), made with huge chunks of fresh lobster from a sustainable source in Maine - it cost me $14 (£8.73, review to follow). It may not be fair to make direct comparisons of two such different operations in entirely different continents, but it has to be said that the Hawksmoor lobster roll is hair raisingly expensive.

But that's pretty much where my quibbles with anything about the Hawksmoor end.

I also ate in the larger dining room during the soft opening period. Exposed brickwork and dark pillars give an industrial edge to the sleek room, which is perfectly conducive to the task at hand - consuming large quantities of tremendously good steak.

All steaks are from Yorkshire Longhorns reared by The Ginger Pig and dry aged for at least 35 days.

My preferred cut is the fatty bone-in prime rib (£6/100g), although they're out of that and the rib eye (400g, £25) by the time we order on the first night of the popular soft opening period. Our lovely waiter arranges for us to have a large chateaubriand for the same price (normally £12/100g). It's quite easily the tastiest chateaubriand I can remember, the dry ageing giving a great depth of meaty flavour. It's gorgeously tender and cooked to perfection on the Josper charcoal grill. There's a satisfying charred crust while the middle is lusciously pink and juicy. The delectable bone marrow gravy is our sauce of choice and we don't regret it.

We share the excellent, crisp and fluffy beef dripping chips and a serve of creamed spinach (£4 each). TPG is tempted by the macaroni cheese, but we save it for next time.

And now I have an admission to make. Before our ginormous steak, we also ate a serve of lamb chops. And it certainly taught me a lesson - just because you're out for steak, do NOT ignore the chops. They're grilled with a mint and caper salad which adds salty, zingy flavours to the deep, juicy meat (£10). Sublime. We also enjoyed the excellent prawn cocktail (£8.50).

In the end, it's really hard to choose between dishes - so much appeals.

The mini sticky toffee sundae (£4) is delicious with gloopy bits in the sauce at the bottom, although TPG's custard tart is a little bland (£6) - we regret not opting for the sticky toffee pudding which comes highly recommended.

Your bill at the Hawksmoor will stack up - it's not cheap. Dinner for 2 with drinks is likely to cost around £100 (plus service). However, it's a joyous place to indulge in great quality meat with some classy cocktails on the side. If you haven't been already, add it to your list.

Hawksmoor Seven Dials, 11 Langley Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9JG (Tel: 020 7856 2154)

Hawksmoor (Seven Dials) on Urbanspoon


  1. I really enjoyed Hawksmoor Seven Dials, although went for a mammoth steak fest rather than trying the menu. I think it was 850gr Porterhouse, 900gr bone in rib and 400gr rump between 3 of us, definitely no room for lamb chops and even the chips and spinach, as lovely as they were, were hard to get down. Eating that much steak makes it more like £80 a head too, even without starters or desserts although some pretty punchy wine helped.

    I can't recommend the rump enough, the flavour from the long hanging was so good and it went nicely rare, which makes a nice change from the medium-rare I think their bone in cuts needs.

  2. I haven't been to Hawksmoor (yet) but from what I've heard of the burger it's actually very good value at £15. I can't think of many other (legal) things that make Londoners go all dreamy and weak at the knees and then grin a lot for £15 and this is pretty much what happens anytime the burger is mentioned...

    I mean a burger and fries will run you roughly a tenner at The Diner and it's execrable...

  3. Ooh, this all looks so good. For one (very impressed) moment I thought you'd eaten the burger, lobster, chops and steak (and dessert) in a single meal. Never the less, lobster roll aside, you get a lot of food. I love the flavour of the meat they use here, it may not be quite as tender as USDA, but it is so much better in terms of flavour and interest. And their ribs are damn fine too.

  4. I really want to go there and that lobster roll sounds brilliant - hope you are going to post about your NYC trip as well

  5. I had a teeny bite of the lobster roll and it was immense, but I can't justify that kind of expense. Not when it can get me a steak instead...

  6. Hi! Will from Hawksmoor here. Just wanted to say thanks for the blog and glad you enjoyed everything!

    Also thought it was worth making a slight justification of price on the lobster roll. Like a lot of things at Hawksmoor it's high price but, I think, very good value, mostly because we buy the most expensive ingredients about £12 to make (it's got a whole lobster in it) and we make just over £9 profit (after VAT) from it. That's a stupidly low margin for most restaurants, and I'm conscious that we spend more on it than the end customer does in Maine.

    Kind of agree with Lizzie though. It still isn't steak.

    Mmmmm steak ...

  7. Joshua - I love the rump too. But you can pretty much guarantee that all the steaks are excellent quality and cooked perfectly.

    Miss South - I agree the burger/chips is good value, particularly compared to others about town which are not half as good.

    Grubworm - That would have been quite a meal!

    Gourmet Chick - The lobster roll is really good. Will defitely be posting about NYC - tried some great places.

    Lizzie - Yep, it is hard to go past the steak! But I love that the option of the bar menu is there.

    Will - Hi, that's really interesting info and thanks for commenting on it. As good as the lobster roll is, I think I'm generally more likely to spend that money on the steak too, but it's great to have the option and it certainly sticks to your general ethos of quality all the way.

  8. I still haven't been, but I've heard great things! It seems every single food blogger in the country is raving about the food, especially the steaks at Hawkesmoor. Perhaps I should give it a try?

  9. We had a good Sunday lunch there. Although it hasn't the best atmosphere for a Sunday roast, but it was a damn good one.

  10. Robert - A man of your taste should most definitely head there to try out the steaks. I'm sure you'll love them.

    Mzungu - Hawksmoor Shoreditch won this year's OFM award for Best Sunday Lunch so I can imagine the roast is pretty good.


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