I first ventured into the Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar one hot, hot day in June with the boy – they had launched their new menu, and despite it being just twenty minutes after opening, the 50% off all month deal had lured many a penny pinching foodie and there was a two hour wait – there’s no reservations.
Deterred, we headed straight over to Psychic Burgers at Birthdays (quick review: amazing bootlaces chips, 7/10 burgers – that’s good – and kudos for the deep fried chicken addition, but it tasted baked, not fried – and no dirty chicken aficionado wants that. Great cocktails and atmos. Oh, we also saw a film after – The Purge. That was good too).
Anyway, last weekend I ventured back to the Hawksmoor Bar – when they were demanding a full £8.50 for a burger, the bastards – with my trusty foodie accomplice M. Apprehensive – it was 6.30pm and the bar had been open a full hour – we ventured in and found it to be delightfully empty, a few covers tops. We were seated at a cute little table in the corner. It’s all dim candlelight, mottled glass walls and plush green leather. There’s a brass wall made from salvaged lift doors from the Art Deco Unilever House in Embankment, apparently. Very Great Gatsby. The bar staff were impossibly good looking, cheery, flirty and grabby with one another – probably enjoying the quiet period before it got rammed and sweaty (and the punters arrived, hoho).
We were served lemon water straight away – nice touch, my other favourite bar Happiness Forgets in Hoxton Square does the same, and it makes me feel special – even if they’re just trying to keep me sober. We ordered the Marmalade Cocktail (Gin, Campari, Lemon Juice, Orange Bitters & English Marmalade) and the Snowgroni – not sure what’s in that one, new menu (it changes every month) says Campari and it definitely didn’t have that. I hate Campari. But It was like an alcoholic slush puppie, in a good way.
Food wise, we decided to try as much as financially/ physically possible and split it all, even the burger. We started with the Ox Cheek Nuggets. OhMyGoodGodSweetJesus. We didn’t expect the sweet little morsels of meaty goodness that turned up. Imagine a lamb shank, the way the meat flakes off the bone like silk. Then make it beef, and the bone a ball of pure meat wrapped in a cosy coat of breadcrumbs, and then, OhLord, add a naughty, sticky, cheesy centre that bursts in your mouth like a greasy nuclear bomb. You’re not even halfway there, bitches. There’s no description on the menu so you had no idea that cheesy mouthful was coming. It was the best fucking food based surprise ever. It’s accompanied by a kimchi dip. I just remember it tasted a little like hot sauce, but in a good way too, adding a whole new level of umami Eastern promise to the mostly American menu.
Next came the cheeseburger – and there’s been a popular consensus that this meaty bugger is a little on the small side. Technically, though, this is bar food, so you’re forgiven, Hawksmoor Bar (I love you). It was outrageously, delightfully, insultingly pink in the middle. It was tasty. It was too small to share between two, so order one each. Don’t be lame. It came in a sweet, glossy brioche bun and it dripped red meat juice everywhere. The pickle was in a long quarter on the side, which is a little Byron burger for me – I like the pickle all up in my meat’s grill personally, but hey ho. It was skinny but flabby around the middle, like those deceptive skinny guys that have a little paunch. Maybe it had gotten warmed up by mistake. It didn’t tarnish my opinion of the burger though. Buy it – the best steak restaurant in London isn’t going to piss up its burgers, now is it. Shut up and eat.
The pig’s head poutine still leaves me a little puzzled. In one sense, it was legendary. It’s really dark in there and I have no idea if I was actually eating bits of pig ear but there was a crunchy, salty mix of fleshy pork chunks on those chips. The cheese curds, which were halfway between mozzarella and tofu in consistency, were a nice surprise to the skeptical M – I guess the word ‘curd’ doesn’t conjure the most salivating of images. The chips, which I read somewhere were triple cooked, had a decent crunch/ fluff ratio but they were, unfortunately, a little cold.
The gravy was groovy (I just wanted to say that). Really though, it was insanely rich. If we’re talking in a monetary sense, it was a squillionaire. It was Jay Z and Beyonce’s collective wealth. It was tax dodging goddamn gravy royalty. I kind of wanted it pooled all over a roast dinner, with crispy crackly roast potatoes and tender roast beef, not chips and prepubescent cheese. I felt the gravy was uncomfortable with its culinary bedfellows and longed for nobler morsels. And about halfway through, it nearly defeated me (nearly, I said). It was so rich, and I had had so much red meat, and cheese, and liquor, I felt a bit woozy. But then I ordered a glass of Sauv Blanc (French, divine) and had a stern word with myself and we were onto desserts.
We split the salt caramel rolos – three of the cheeky little monkeys, all
smothered in hardened dark chocolate and oozing with melting savoury caramel. I think they were chilled, which reminds me of those dessert freezers they have on holiday. I liked that. One and a half was about right to round off the meal if you just fancy a taste and are already stuffed (as you should be. Flatulence is the greatest compliment to any chef – yours, not theirs).
The entire meal came to sixty pounds-ish – that includes two cocktails, a mixer, wine, and four dishes. Pretty decent and well worth the moolah. When we left Hawksmoor Bar, it was raining. Which was pretty pathetic fallacy-ish, because I want to go there again and never leave, ever. I’m taking the boy for our four year anniversary, it’s that good. And you can stuff your face / snog someone else’s faces off and no one can see – not necessarily in that order. Depends what you’re into. One word of warning: Arrive early to avoid disappointment. We’re getting there for six JUST IN CASE. We’ll see you there.
PS Sorry the pics are so shit. It was dark.