Hawksmoor Seven Dials
11 Langley St, WC2H 9JG
Tel: 020 7856 2154
Cost per person without wine: £35
HAWKSMOOR Seven Dials could so easily be just another unmemorable new opening. It’s got the parquet flooring, the dark wooden tables, the exposed brick and the big industrial beams. Tick, tick, tick, tick.
But it’s not just another unmemorable opening. The meal I had there on Saturday is one I will remember for a good long while.
And if it looks like it’s in an old brewery, that’s because it is – the old Watney-Combe brewery to be precise. So its beams and bricks are unavoidable, though they do give it a bit of a tired faux-industrial aesthetic.
But owners Will Beckett and Huw Gott really know how to do cool – friendly cool, as in the type that makes you want to come back for the good service, good food, top drinks and gratifying value. They’ve created a cult following at the original and beloved Hawksmoor near Old Street thanks to top beef and groovy cocktails. And their other Shoreditch venture, Green and Red, was a supremely popular venue serving Mexican food and drink – they’ve now closed it down to focus on the Hawksmoors. Years back they started (and sold) the Red Church, a tiny bar off Bethnal Green Road that serves tasty cocktails and now attracts an enthusiastic, dedicated late-night throng.
Clearly, cocktails are integral to Beckett and Gott’s vision of dining. And what a welcome vision it is. The bar list is a huge and diverting mixture of tipples, crammed with the zany, the historical, the subtle and the pretty. There are juleps, punches and fizzes. All of them ooze class – you won’t find anything sickly sweet rammed into a giant mass-produced martini glass here. For a start, all the glasses are delicate and beautifully shaped – we had two different types of bulbous martini glass (more like champagne bowls) and a more upright crystal chalice, all in one sitting. Charming. Inside them were a Perfect Lady (gin with peach brandy, lemon juice and egg white; we ordered it twice each it was so good), a tobacco old fashioned (with tobacco bitters and bourbon) and a Hawksmoor Fizz (gin, lemon, cream, fruit syrup, orange flower water and egg white).
And so to dinner. Oh boy. Meat, glorious meat, is the serious business here. The beef is from Longhorn cattle reared by the folks behind the famous Ginger Pig butchery and steaks are dry-aged for minimum of 35 days. To kick off the meat feast, we dove into the starter list, greedily opting for three dishes when one would have done. We had the famous Tamworth belly ribs – four great slabs of melting pork marinated in something more subtle and natural-tasting than BBQ sauce; bone marrow and slow cooked onions which came out in three enormous bones crammed with gratinated onions and the trembly marrow fat which, when rubbed on the accompanying thick-cut, smoky farmhouse toast, was simple heaven (and a steal at 5.50), and finally, corned beef and bacon.
We were full, in honesty. But the main event was to come. For my friend: a piece of bone-in sirloin literally bigger than her head at 600 grams, served with beef dripping chips and stilton hollondaise. The steak was a glorious hunk of drippingly pink, charcoaly flesh – with none of that obnoxious chewiness that comes from poorly integrated fat and bad cuts. I’m not sure I’ve tasted anything better – even in the US.
Hawksmoor Spitalfields is famous for its burgers. And word had already reached me of a kimchi burger at Seven Dials – kimchi is a spicy Korean-style of cabbage – so I ordered it off the bar menu. It was delicious and unusual – after all, have you ever had an aromatic, Asian-tasting, stirfry-loaded cheeseburger? Nor had I.
I finished off dinner with a very nice chocolate pudding – it came in a large ramekin and made Gu puddings seem ungenerous and a bit crap by comparison. For those that want to continue the burger-’n’-fries, Americana pattern, there are mini Sundaes – we tried the Cornflake one (you can have sticky toffee, chocolate and vanilla), and jolly nice it was too, if you fancy simple pleasures.
Come to Hawksmoor Seven Dials ambitiously hungry and deeply thirsty. You won’t want to leave and when you do, you’ll begin thinking about when you can come back.