"Go to splurge"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
What can be said about Hawksmoor's steaks that hasn’t been said already? We know they’ve scoured the ends of the earth searching for the perfect beef, only to find it in the English countryside. That the cattle is grass-fed, which makes a huge difference to the flavour – call us slushy but we could practically taste the sweet fresh grass with each mouthful, along with a beautifully charred exterior that you only get from grilling meat over proper charcoal, and evenly distributed fat that adds to its velvety, melt-in-the-mouth qualities. The fillet steak in particular is so soft you could almost cut it up with a fork. Quality like this comes at a price of course, the porterhouse may be £8.50 for 100g, but upon ordering we learn the minimum offered is 750g. That’s £63.75 just for one main, before you factor in a side dish. Then again, you probably knew all of this at the start of this paragraph.
But it’s not all about the steaks here. For this, their fourth restaurant, Hawksmoor have enlisted Mitch Tonks, a chef known for his expertise cooking fish and seafood. And here, the self-proclaimed and unanimously considered best steakhouse in Britain gives equal billing to meat and fish.
There’s monkfish, turbot, Dover sole and lobster, all above £35 not including any sides, be warned. We’re a little disappointed to hear there are no oysters, fresh or otherwise, as we’d wanted to start our meat feast with as much pomp as possible but never mind; a portion of fried queenie scallops in batter comes with a sizeable jug of tartare sauce with dill and plump capers, and two huge Tamworth belly ribs have incredibly moist meat, paired with a big (there’s a theme here you see) chunk of fresh red cabbage.
There is some gorgeous creamed spinach which still has a bit of bite, a dish of very creamy, American-style macaroni cheese and some slightly lumpy mashed potato with gravy. The Jansson’s Temptation, a potato gratin dish with anchovies, cream and grated cheese, is a little on the salty side, especially seeing as the addition of anchovies is a result of mistranslating the Swedish for sprats, which are more like sardines. And while I’m nit-picking, a negroni is piled with ice cubes so huge (there it is again) that I have to tilt the glass backwards very dangerously at a risk of spilling the drink over my blouse. Have they not considered their ice cube/tumbler/customer ratio?
They do take wine very seriously however. The Ramón Bilbao limited edition Rioja 2009 we order isn’t the right temperature as it’s only just been delivered, so the waitress recommends decanting it twice. It’s still too cold, so instead they bring us a bottle of Cruz de Alba, Crianza 2009, which at £40 is just £2.50 more, but they offer us a dessert worth £7 to make up the difference. We’re almost at bursting point by the time it arrives, but not a crumb remains of the peanut butter shortbread with salted caramel ice cream.
Our bill comes to £220. Go to splurge, and if possible procure a nearby snoozing place for immediately after the meal.
Leila reviewed Hawksmoor Air Street on Fri 12 Apr 2013