It’s not often that the best steakhouse in London opens a new location. It’s even less often that a friend snags a reservation by following the steakhouse on Twitter. And it’s far less often that that generous friend extends an invitation for you to join them. But sometimes lucky things happen and you find yourself at the soft opening of the new Hawksmoor restaurant in Covent Garden. Last night was one of those times.
Four of us met up yesterday evening at the Hawksmoor Seven Dials, which is housed in a former brewery. The low light, parquet floors, dark leather chairs, and wooden tables inspired a leisurely start to our evening. We began with cocktails at the subterranean bar, where we enjoyed Champagne Charlies with fresh pear and Old Fashioneds with tobacco-infused whiskey. As we sipped, all of us were impressed with how much our server cared about whether we were satisfied with our drinks (we were).
When we finally decided to move to our table in the adjacent dining room, we realized that the restaurant was much larger than we had first imagined. Long tables were full of bankers and other besuited types, but also the likes of Irish model Jamie Dornan and his entourage (no, I had never heard of him before. My friend knew someone that grew up with him).
With healthy appetites all around and the lure of 50% off food, we didn’t hesitate to order ourselves a Hawksmoor feast. Our starters included fresh Cumbrae rock oysters, hand-dived king scallops, London Cure smoked salmon, and bone marrow with slow-cooked onions. I wish I could have chosen a favorite, but they were all too good. In fact, so was the service. For a soft opening, they did an outstanding job.
Moving on to the mains, we sampled a variety of Hawksmoor’s famous steaks. I went with the filet, which was delicious with the Stilton Hollandaise sauce. The others had the bone-in sirloin and a great big porterhouse. I’m usually not a big fan of English beef, but this was excellent. It also didn’t hurt that Hawksmoor’s wine list had a surprisingly decent selection of California wines, which is a rarity in London. While the Sine Qua Non was featured on the list, we went with a more reasonably priced Syrah from Cline. It paired very nicely with the steak.
But we didn’t stop at steak. Side dishes of creamed spinach (great, but could have used a bit more cream), triple cooked fries with amazing home-made ketchup, roast field mushrooms, and an autumn salad with Colston Bassett Stilton rounded out the meal. And our stomachs. There wasn’t a single dish I didn’t enjoy.
By dessert we were all getting full, so we shared two among the four of us. One was a pot of lemon curd with shortbread, the other a chocolate souffle into which we poured a pitcher of cream. The latter was so indulgent that we figured it was time to leave before we all had heart attacks in the middle of the restaurant. As we walked outside, we were surprised to find that it was after midnight. I hope my luck didn’t run out at the stroke of 12, though. I’m following Hawksmoor restaurant on Twitter now, and maybe I’ll get a special reservation of my own one of these days.