Hawksmoor Seven Dials, London

Hawksmoor Seven Dials

I have a confession to make. Up until about a couple of months ago, I had never been to Hawksmoor. I know - call myself a food blogger, and a steak-loving one at that, and I've never been to Hawksmoor?! Shameful. I finally addressed the issue with not one, but two visits to Hawksmoor over the space of three weeks, opting for the more central Seven Dials location rather than the Spitalfields original.

Despite Hawksmoor's renowned expertise with steaks, my first visit was actually inspired by a desire to try their burger (also critically acclaimed), as I was right in the middle of my burger quest at the time, and what burger odyssey would be complete without a visit to Hawksmoor. Having already sampled the burgers at the likes of Goodman, Bar Boulud, Hache and of course Byron prior to trying the version at Hawksmoor, many would argue that I left the best for last. The Hawksmoor Hamburger has made every top London burger list I have come across, and more often than not, the very top of those lists. Needless to say, I was very excited as I sat awaiting its arrival.

Hawksmoor Burger

As soon as I took sunk my teeth into it, I immediately thought - this is a higher class of burger. The meat, a secret mix that includes small nuggets of bone marrow, was full of flavour, perfectly cooked (requested pink), and oh so moist. I often bemoan the lack of a special sauce, or relish, in burgers that choose to do without it, but I had no such complaint here – the taste, and flavour of the meat was plenty sufficient. The bun wasn't the best I've sampled in London (that would be Goodman, followed very closely by Bar Boulud), but it was good enough. So was this it? The best burger in London?

Well, rarely, if ever, do wonderful first impressions sustain for the entirety of an experience, and I have to report that, rather than confirming my initial feelings, subsequent bites into the burger in fact sowed some seeds of doubt in my mind. The (slight) over-saltiness of the meat started to become apparent, and the moistness of the patty resulted in a soaked bun that could no longer be gripped about halfway through the burger - a rather annoying development that actually made you forget how good the first mouthful was. But I mustn’t forget that first bite – this was, despite its flaws, a top-notch burger; better, on balance, than Goodman and Bar Boulud. But I’m going to stop short, at this point, of declaring it the best burger in town, because it wasn’t so good that I could immediately anoint it the best having not tried some of the others, safe in the knowledge that there couldn’t possibly be a better one out there better. So watch this space…

I should also point out at this point that Hawksmoor also offers a Kimchi Burger which has been the beneficiary of a number of positive reviews too. The Triple Cooked Chips that accompanied the burger were hard rather than crisp – they were pretty bad.

Bone Marrow & Slow Cooked Onions

I then returned a couple of weeks later to finally try their much-vaunted steak. But first, Bone Marrow & Slow Cooked Onions for my starter was a success – smooth, slimy, full of beefy goodness and well complimented by the onions. And then, finally, the main event, the Fillet Steak...

Fillet Steak

I was disappointed. Very disappointed in fact. There I said it. The steak was cooked exactly medium rare as requested, but it was dry, which I think is fairly apparent in the photo, and lacked the chargrilled flavour I was expecting. It wasn’t a terrible piece of steak, but it did fall significantly below expectations. The Béarnaise sauce I almost didn’t order saved the day somewhat, injecting some much-needed moisture into the meat, but it shouldn’t have been required – I am firmly of the belief that a juicy, succulent steak, cooked well, doesn’t need a sauce.

I was hoping Hawksmoor would be the answer – a properly good steak in London, one to match the awesomeness of those available in the States, but it wasn’t. Flavour-wise, it paled even in comparison to Sophie’s.

Having been distinctly unimpressed by the Triple Cooked Chips on my previous visit, I opted instead for the Beef Dripping Chips this time to go with my steak, and they were much better. The chips were so big and thick they were almost like your Sunday dinner roast potatoes, but were at least crisp, which could not be said of the triple cooked version. They still weren’t as good as the ones at Goodman mind.

In a nutshell...
Hawksmoor is almost universally acclaimed as the best – the best steaks, the best burgers. The burger, whilst not perfect, did come close to upholding that status, but the steak on this occasion was far below that standard. Perhaps it was an off night. Because of its massive reputation, I’m willing to give Hawksmoor a second  (third) chance, but on the evidence of this experience, I can only really reach one conclusion - that Hawksmoor is overrated in the extreme.

6/10

Hawksmoor Seven Dials
11 Langley Street, London, WC2H 9JG
+44 (0)2078562154
Average Price: £40

Hawksmoor (Seven Dials) on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

  1. Yeah those Ginger Pig Longhorns while good (considering they are hung longer than usual 45 days I believe specially for the restaurant) are not the best beef you can get in town. I'm quite amazed at the lack of moisture, perhaps they hadnt rested it long enough. Although to be fair to the meat, it is a fillet after all, its prime characteristic should be that of melting tenderness. You really should expect bland flavours. I'm a rib eye man through and through.

    Anyway, for me the best fillets are O'Sheas , and the best steaks are josper-grilled prime usda rib eyes. I prefer american beef cos they are sweeter. UK beef have more 'beefy' flavour however, character of grass-fed beef but are not as tender as fatty USDas.

    I'm a Goodman fan so I firmly believe the best steaks are over there. They also age their beef on site, which could be areason why their beef are better. But I think they are just better at operatin the josper and they REST the meat for longer. Really though, oshea's fillets - that stuff literally melts on your fork. Make sure it has been hung for extra long (like 30 - 45 days) and you will be impressed.

    Also, if you can get your hands on some belted galloways, they are really some amazing pieces of meat, considering they are English.

    Anyway, good luck with your meat conquests, you should try The CUT, I hvaen't myself, but I hear chef puck is packing some serious meat in his lockers.

    Kang.

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  2. Yeah that fillet steak was a real disappointment, especially considering the reputation this place has. My heart sank the minute I saw it. Funny enough, I'm usually a rib eye man too, not really sure what came over me this time that prompted me to order the fillet. Will give the rib eye next time.

    Thanks for the recommendations. I've had the burger at Goodman but will be sure to try the steak on my next visit. CUT is also one definitely on my to-try list.

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