The best steak and burgers I’ve had in London so far
There’s no shortage of steakhouses in London, but many of them are merely OK or just plain pants. One of the best is Hawksmoor which was originally based in Spitalfields, but now has a branch in Covent Garden’s Seven Dials and another outpost due to arrive in the City. Hawksmoor isn’t cheap, but I return to it time and time again.
My most recent visit to the Seven Dials branch was for Sunday brunch with the Euro Hedgie. The little waif was hankering for some meat after skipping dinner the night before and nursing a mild hangover.
The bar has a vaguely nautical feel with its low ceiling, subtle chrome trim and liberal use of dark wood. The main dining room may sound clichéd with its exposed brick walls, kitchen tiles and colonnades, but it’s actually very attractive. The entire place apparently sits on the site of one of London’s first steak clubs.
I usually have the chateaubriand at Hawksmoor, which is a divinely tender and succulent cut of steak best enjoyed rare, or medium rare at most, to savour its tenderness and nutty offal-like flavour. The chateaubriand however, like many of the steaks, is sold in weights designed to be shared. The smallest available on that day was 600g – the Euro Hedgie demurred since his heart had settled on the Sunday roast and even that much meat is far too much for me alone.
Despite costing just £18, the Sunday roast is truly epic in size and could sustain a small family – my photo doesn’t do justice to the size of the dish. Alongside the greens and carrots are large, chunky potatoes which have very doughy exteriors and surprisingly solid, dense interiors. I wasn’t fond of them, but the Euro Hedgie seemed to enjoy them slathered with gravy.
The rare rump/silverside of beef was very tender and had a nice clean taste apart from that lovely, subtle tang typical of good silverside. The large Yorkshire pudding was light and fluffy and wasn’t too buttery or heavy. Delightful.
I chose to start with a new dish on Hawksmoor’s menu – the steak tartare. Long time readers will know that I’ve been on a quest for quality steak tartare in London and have yet to find it. Hawksmoor’s tartare benefits from some tender, coarsely ground meat flavoured with a generous amount of fresh capers and parsley. It’s the best steak tartare I’ve had in London so far, but it’s still not as distinctly flavoursome or as accomplished as the best tartares in Paris or Madrid though. My quest continues.
Although Hawksmoor’s burgers are only listed on the menu for the bar and not the main dining room, the helpful staff are more than happy to serve them in the main room if you ask. For some reason I opted for the burger of the month over the standard burger and the vaunted kimchee burger, even though I wasn’t paying attention to the waitress when she was describing it due to my sleepy, groggy state of mind. I wasn’t disappointed with my choice though – it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. The pattie, cooked medium, was very succulent without being greasy and had a deeply satisfying nutty, salty taste. The odd-topping tasted of capers and anchovies (or at least that’s what the taste reminds me of), but this complimented the moreish meat very well. There was a bit of lettuce, tomato and onion to add a bit of variation, while the toasted bun wasn’t too soft or too crispy and held the burger together well, never becoming too soggy. Superb.
Most likely the best burger I’ve ever had.
Included with all Hawksmoor burgers are chips and I always choose the triple cooked chips. They’re very crispy on the outside and fluffy soft on the inside. Although they were a little greasy and saltier than usual, I thought they had actually improved since my last visit, while the Hedgie disagreed thinking that they were slightly worse. Still, a superior chip.
All chips should be triple cooked chips.
Just as remarkable as the meat at Hawksmoor is the restaurant’s unique (as far as I know) cornflake milkshake. The dull and unadventurous may blanche at the idea, but it’s really superb. Hawksmoor has somehow managed to capture that sweet, milky taste of cornflakes, especially that residual puddle of milk and flakes at the bottom of the bowl after you’ve finished your breakfast, and distilled it into a creamy shake. Superb.
My favourite milkshake anywhere.
My one quibble with Hawksmoor was that service during my most recent visit was slightly erratic and amateurish. The admittedly polite and apologetic staff were very slow, which the Hedgie puts down to the packed room of diners almost all of whom were having the Sunday roast. Our waitress also accidentally charged the wrong amount to my card, although it was corrected immediately.
Despite the hiccups with the service I can’t say a bad word about Hawksmoor. If there are better steaks and burgers in London, I have yet to find them. It’s not cheap, especially the pricier cuts of steak such as the chateaubriand (which really is best eaten rare), but it’s well worth it. Carnivores will be cradling their swollen bellies while weeping sweet tears of joy. Five stars.
Name: Hawksmoor (Seven Dials, Covent Garden branch)
Address: 11 Langley Street, London, WC2H 9JG
Phone: 020 7856 2154
Opening Hours: Lunch Monday – Saturday noon-15:00 and Sunday noon – 16:30
Dinner Monday – Saturday 17:00-22:30
Reservations: highly recommended.
Total cost for one person including soft drink: £25-35 approximately (can be much more expensive depending on cut and weight of steak ordered)