This review is part of Hawksmoorathon – three meals at three different Hawksmoors in one day
After a breakfast of devilled veal kidneys and a black pudding burger for lunch, it should come as no surprise that I was feeling rather chunky. Somehow, I still managed to rustle up a small appetite for dinner at the original Hawksmoor in Spitalfields. The Euro Hedgie and I had to settle for a seat downstairs in the bar which had recently been refurbished and it’s quite a sight – the brass fittings and handsome tiled walls look lovely. The only reason why it’s not my favourite Hawksmoor is because it’s very warm, plus it’s the bar so the full restaurant menu isn’t available.
The bar menu may not have any steaks, but it has plenty of attractions in its own right. The tamworth laab is the most Asianesque dish I’ve ever had at a Hawksmoor and therefore the lightest. Small shells of lettuce are used to scoop dollops of minced lamb that have a sweet, peppery, slightly zesty quality that’s a great way to start a meal.
The beef short rib nuggets, on the other hand, are disappointing. Although the short grained crumb is smooth and ungreasy, the meaty interior is rather anonymous and forgettable. The only saving grace is the kimchee dipping sauce which, despite being entirely liquid with no cheaty floaty bits, successfully and evocatively captures the sharp, spicy, sour taste of that classic pickled cabbage dish from Korea (sorry folks, no photo of this one).
Although the short rib nuggets were a bit of a flop, the same can’t be said for the curiously named short rib French dip sandwich. A soft, buttery, fluffy brioche-esque roll is filled with moist, tender, sticky slithers of beef that’s almost stew like. There’s also some melted cheese which I couldn’t identify but it has a gentle sweetness to it. Just by itself, the sandwich is a basic yet intensely satisfying meaty hit, but it gets even better when dipped into the accompanying gravy.
At this point I should really have called it a day, but I couldn’t resist the allure of the peanut butter shortbread and salted caramel ice cream. While the shortbread did have a gentle hit of that unmistakable peanut butter tang, the effect wasn’t complete since the shortbread understandably lacked the gooey viscosity that makes peanut butter so appealing. The caramel ice cream did add some of that and was quite icy, gooey and sugary too if not very salty. It’s not a stunning dessert, but it is a gently satisfying one.
I washed it all down with the refreshing (and non-alcoholic) apple mojito which combined the crisp sweetness of apples with the fresh hit of mint.
If you’re wondering where the Euro Hedgie was during all of this, he was actually a bit late and rocked up mildly sozzled, having spent the interval between lunch at Seven Dials and dinner at Spitalfields downing cocktails in a winding trail all the way from Covent Garden to Shoreditch. His erudite verdict on the chunky-looking hot dog? ‘Yummy’.
Although the bar at Hawksmoor Spitalfields isn’t perfect and doesn’t serve up steaks due to the small size of its kitchen, it’s still a great place to dine in its own right.
Hawksmoorathon bloat-o-meter reading
I feel a bit like Mr Creosote. Oh god, why did I do this to myself.
Name: Hawksmoor (Spitalfields branch)
Address: 157 Commercial Street, London E1 6BJ
Phone: 020 7426 4856
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 18.00-23:00, Saturday noon-15.00 and 16.00-23.00, Sunday noon – 17:00
Reservations: highly recommended.
Total cost for one person including drink: £20-25 approx.