More often than not, we find ourselves writing about the latest restaurant and the newest opening, but we think it’s equally important to shout about some of London’s most loved restaurants – the ones we return to time and time again, the ones we can always rely on for a perfect meal.
Hawksmoor Spitalfields definitely falls into this category, and now is a great time to recap all the ways we love them as they’ve just had a major refurbishment. The Spitalfields location was actually the original site and it opened just over a decade ago (can you believe that!). The aim of the game hasn’t changed in that time – they source the best British ingredients and cook them simply over charcoal.
So what’s changed? Taking care to retain the soul of the original restaurant they’ve raided reclamation yards and antiques shops to give it a comfortable lived-in feel. Mirrors and a repurposed bronze elevator sign (now a blackboard) from the art deco landmark Unilever House line the walls above forest-green booths and vintage mid-century leather chairs. Table tops have been made from old chemistry lab tops from public schools and the parquet floor was sourced from a sanatorium in Northumberland. A series of stained glass panels that form a stylised map of the area now blur the view of Commercial Street and along one wall a brass-topped bar, inspired by a chance visit to a Chicago dive bar, is a standout feature.
There are some newbies on the menu too…
To start there’s roast scallops, served in their shell with fennel pollen and garlic a plenty. A portion of three or four are available making it a good pre-starter for the table. Mmm, food before food – our favourite!
For our main course we’d normally order rump steak, served rare (we know, we’re a cheap date!) but we plumped for the new ‘cast iron steak’. Instead of being cooked over charcoal this piece of fillet is seared in a fiercely hot cast iron pan and topped with onions and bone marrow. They suggest it’s served medium-well which we’d never dream of ordering, but of course, it was delicious and the topping means there’s no need to order a side of sauce. These guys know their way around a steak and you should never doubt them. Twelve hour beef short-rib slow-cooked with claret, bone marrow & Roscoff onions had already sold out by the time we got there, a good sign that this new dish will go down a treat. There are new sides as well – one of which is so ridiculously naughty we fell into a full on food coma. Ok, picture this – Tunworth mash. Each portion is made with a quarter of Tunworth cheese that has been aged to oozing point by Neal’s Yard Dairy. It’s every bit as good as that sounds. Of course the large steak cuts are still chalked up on the blackboard, and crossed out as they sell – we love watching city folk trying to outdo each other with the biggest on offer and first dates falling in love over their sharing steaks.
New desserts include the beautifully pink rhubarb tart with vanilla custard or forgo dessert altogether and stick with the booze – the full fat old fashioned couldn’t be more perfect in this setting.
They don’t have any bad wine on the menu and they still offer BYO on Mondays with just a £5 corkage fee.
We just love this place, it’s no nonsense, serves the best quality ingredients and they treat their staff well too. Here’s to the next decade guys – cheers!