Last night I went to Hawksmoor for the third time this year (you can read my original review [link2post id=”809″]here[/link2post]). The basic message I feel I should express first is that it is a totally brilliant restaurant.
I felt incredibly fortunate when I received an email inviting me back there. All of my previous meals there have been greatly enjoyable. This one promised to be a hoot as well; it was a comparative tasting of different breeds of beef. Sounded totally fascinating, how could I refuse?
Keen as I was to experience different breeds of meat, I got there early. This gave me an excellent opportunity to prop up their bar and have a couple of cocktails. Once again the daiquiri no. 2 was totally wonderful, but was eclipsed by a super-top-bunny-grade Pegu Club cocktail. Their cocktail list is a thrilling journey into the 1920s, and I felt I did rather well with my options.
When my fellow beef tasters and I retired to the dining room we were issued with tasting sheets for the beef: there were 17 different breeds and cuts of meat on it. I laughed like a drain, it was clearly going to be a hilariously interesting experience. As we all poured over the tasting sheets we were served a rather nice glass of innocuously fruity punch, which slipped down a treat. Once again, this showed that they take their drinks seriously.
We started off the meal with sirloin steak from five different breeds cooked medium/rare. The Sussex beef from Northfield Farm was a tad gamey with a reasonably complex flavour, pretty good but probably my least favourite of the sirloins. Next up was Hereford, also from Northfield Farm. This had really subtle, complex flavours, classy and sophisticated. I wrote ‘Lovely, really lovely’. An Angus/Charolais cross produced meat that was quite rich and fatty, with a good persistence of flavour. I thought it was quite special. An old favourite follows, South Devon breed from the wonderful Wild Beef Company. Its flavour was incredibly deep with a powerful meatiness, stylish and totally pleasing. The final sirloin was Longhorn beef from the Ginger Pig which had been dry aged for 35 days; this is the normal beef that Hawksmoor sell. This was super high grade kit. Completely brilliant with an amazingly deep, powerful flavour. I don’t eat sirloin that often, but such was the quality of these pieces of meat I may well be ordering more sirloin in the future.
Next came rib eye steaks. I love rib eye steaks and after the obscenely wonderful food porn that we started off with I was on the edge of my seat looking forward to these steaks. A Hereford steak from Rare blew my socks off with its brilliant, incredible flavour; really rich and stylish. Top bunny. Aberdeen Angus from Rare had a bit of a strange texture, with reasonable flavour but not terribly demanding; it was OK but not great. More interesting was a modern crossbreed called Ridings Reserve. It was fatty and strong with an excellent persistence of flavour. The final offering in this flight was once again Hawksmoor’s usual breed, Longhorn from the Ginger Pig. The texture was really satisfying and it tasted lovely.
Yet more rib eye steaks were to follow so by this time I was chortling with uncontrollable mirth. An Aberdeen Angus rib eye from Select was a bit dull and cheesy, I didn’t go for it. Another modern cross, Casterbridge from Fairfax had an intriguing, slightly spicy taste. It was a bit nutty and quite interesting. Once again, a piece of Hereford beef (from Fairfax) was toe-curlingly good. I wrote ‘Wow, this is amazing! Great flavour that is really complex. Great. Obscenely good.’ A Galloway breed from Farmer Sharp was densely meaty, with a grassy, classy edge. Pretty damned good. The final rib eye came from a Hereford Cross supplied by Graig Farm Organics. Reasonably interesting, I suppose, but the straight Hereford delivered the goods more reliably. Life really smiles on one when one gets to try beef this good.
Two steaks to finish off were the world’s biggest rump steak and a flatiron steak from an Aberdeen Angus (West Cork) breed supplied by Jack O’Shea. The massive rump steak was rich and buttery, with a good grassy character and a nice, long finish. I haven’t had that many flatiron steaks, I found this one to have an intriguing, rich, powerful flavour. Quiet fascinating, thrilling even, and cooked to total perfection, which always helps.
So which were my favourite? The two breeds that stood out for me were the Hereford and the Longhorn which (pleasingly) Hawksmoor usually sell as their main breed. Both of these charmed and titillated me in a way that the others didn’t quite manage. They were all cooked with great skill on their charcoal grill. Rarely have I had so much fun with meat.
Obviously, I love Hawksmoor. You’ll love it too. A couple of weeks back I got my mother to trek in from Oxford and go there. I have also got a few friends to turn up. Everyone has been wowed by the place and described their meals to me with the passion of people who have had a great time. It is really worth turning up on a Monday as you can take along your own wine and pay a Lady Godiva (fiver) corkage. It is a great place, totally top meat, lovely cocktails and staff who are friendly and efficient. You will not go wrong here.
Contact details on their website.