The question I ask is do we really need any more steak restaurants in London? I'm not entirely sure, and neither is Hawksmoor by the looks of it. The new Air Street restaurant is serving an equal choice of both meat and fish. And not any old fish, but meaty varieties caught from the shores of the UK and sourced from renowned Brixham Market in Devon. Their meat sourced from the famous Ginger Pig butchers, my favourite butchers in London.
As Hawksmoor are relatively new to the seafood side of things it’s been left in the hands of Mitch Tonks, most widely known as the owner of Fish Works restaurants. Among others Mitch also runs the Seahorse Restaurant in Dartmouth. It’ here that they focus on cooking their meat and fish over a charcoal grill, which is also Hawksmoors cooking technique, they couldn’t have picked a better chef having that skill in common.
The interior of Hawksmoor is very Art Deco but still retaining its gentlemen’s club feel, much similar to Guildhall, thought it’s much roomier and airy here, you’re also able to see your food without the use of a candle which is nice.
In true Hawksmoor style we started with a cocktail, Shipwreck Sour, comprised of cognac, ginger wine, lemon and egg whites. A difficult drink to mix and get the balance right but Hawksmoor pulled it off with no problems. I'm starting to think they could become my favourite place to drink, very few places match up. I had this same drink in a now closed down bar on the King's Road and it was awful. As a nibble we had a small side of pickled cockles, which were pickled perfectly and just how I remember them as a child.
For starters we had fried Queenies with tartar sauce. They somehow managed to not overcook the scallops while still getting the batter nice and crunchy. I found they were a bit too generous on the salt, and I normally go crazy on the stuff, especially if Maldon is at hand. The tartar sauce had a good kick and was well made.
Potted beef with bacon and Yorkshire puddings was simply delicious. The first mouthful and I was salivating. The Yorkshire puddings were extremely crunchy but soft on the inside while the potted beef with bacon was a small pot of heaven. Slightly salty, seasoned perfectly and had a lovely texture. The onion gravy brought it all together and I finished it feeling I had just had a delicious Sunday roast.
When we got to the mains the difficult part now was to decide if I wanted meat or fish. As I had previously went to the Guildhall restaurant (you can read my review here) and ate like a starving carnivore it was only right of me to order fish, and I'm glad I did. I can't put into words how delicious the piece of monkfish was. Juicy and moist with a gorgeous smokiness which has penetrated through it off the grill. I wasn’t sure why I didn’t order monkfish more often when eating out, but I realised it was because of the price, £30-40 is a lot for a piece of fish with no sides.
Without realising we ended up ordering three potato dishes as sides, something which we regretted later on, there is only so much potato one person can eat. Potatoes with mint, potatoes with shrimps and a Jansson's temptation. Jansson's temptation was a sort of potato gratin covered in breadcrumbs and was delicious. However the shrimps and potatoes and parsley did not go well together.
The royal bream baked in paper with garlic, rosemary and chilli was a very nice piece of fish, extremely juicy and fell straight off its bones. The only criticism I would have is that I wanted more garlic and rosemary seeping into my fish, a touch more flavour would do it no harm.
So full at this point I was surprised I still made room for desserts. When I had desserts last at Guildhall I thought it was this area they needed to improve in, walking away dissatisfied. Not here though, the desserts were fantastic. The sticky toffee pudding was probably one of the best I have ever had, but I don't have much to compare it against. It was rich and decadent, drowning in delicious sweet sticky toffee sauce while the sponge was light and airy.
Everyone on Twitter seems to be raving about their take on a Jaffa cake and most notably the salted caramel Rolo, so I had no choice but to have both. The Jaffa cake, containing a layer of hazelnut, stuffed with the orange Jaffa filling and encased in lots of chocolate puts the supermarket brand to shame. It tempts you in with chocolate then releases all of its gooey orange centre and a crunch from the hazelnuts, delicious!
I didn't think it could get any better, until the salted caramel Rolo arrived. Super rich caramel with a generous salting and sweet, bitter, dark chocolate. I asked to take the last Rolo home as I couldn't manage any more food and the waitress came back with a refilled bag. This is Hawksmoor going the extra mile, on top of its already excellent service.
I would definitely choose Air Street over Guildhall, they don't have their famous burgers here but they make up for it with great seafood and desserts. I can't say I've been a frequent diner but it's always been down to the price. Now that Air Street have a £25 express menu I have no reason to not go more regularly, and neither do you!