Surely by now everyone knows that Hawksmoor is easily the best meat restaurant in London? If you go there for lunch you’ll have this truth made plentifully clear to you thanks to the lunch special’s profuse personality of flavour fireworks and taste titillations.
Hawksmoor has undergone some re-development since my last visit; there is now a greater surface-area for tables. The denizens of London clearly have taste as the restaurant was practically full during our meal. I’m really happy when I see what I know to be a good restaurant doing well. As we arrived we scored some of their excellent Pale Ale and scoped out the menu. A new addition was 500g of 55 day-aged rump steak, which seemed both intriguingly aged and sized, but we were there for the lunchtime-only offering that has generated much excitement in the London food blogging scene: the Hawksmoor beef burger.
Of course, being healthy diners of solid constitution we needed a starter. All three of us chose the Tamworth belly ribs; a much-loved option that has only been below par once during my innumerable visits here. These were a colossal success. They were incredibly tender, with their intense, porky, fatty flavours enhanced by subtle spices. As each bite melted on my palate I felt enthused with the knowledge that my fellow diners and I were fine and noble beings for getting such corporeal and cerebral gratification from the consummately well-prepared bits of what were plainly very happy animals. These were ribs of outstanding quality, so naturally by the time I finishing up there was much sighing, groaning and writhing with pleasure.
Then came the beef burger.
If that picture doesn’t make you want to eat one now I worry, dear reader, for your commitment to the food aesthetic.
Yet, they were better than that picture can communicate. The meat was well-aged cuts from less well-known bits of Longhorn cattle enhanced with morsels of bone marrow, cooked medium/rare to medium so it was still pink and juicy in the centre. When I took my first bite I was immediately aware this was a stupendous burger. It was comprised of impressively beef-driven tastes with plenty of mature meat characteristics giving it a thoroughly deep panoply of rich, complex flavours. A psyche-enhancing, physically-fulfilling, top grade burger-patty.
The burger could be enhanced with one of two choices of cheese. The Stichelton (effectively Stilton made with unpasteurised milk, manifestly a first-rate cheese) I chose added creamy richness and fungal piquancy to the burger’s range of stimulating flavours. Stimulating in a not quite genteel manner if I may speak candidly; there is more than a suggestion of crude smut about the enjoyment of such a piece of food. The roll was indubitably up to standard and absorbent enough to soak up most of the lovely juices coming from the burger.
Hawksmoor may feel they have to put a leaf of some worthless plant and a slice of tomato in the bun just to appease those preposterous types who think plants are an agreeable alternative to proper food, but they didn’t really add to the experience. If you do want to try augmenting the experience without having someone perform an intimate act on your person there is also the opportunity to pay a few fun tokens extra and have some supplementary Ginger Pig streaky bacon added to the burger. Whilst we all greatly enjoy this bacon we felt the addition of it would be gilding the lily and so turned down this offer. You have the choice of either triple-cooked chips (I’d prefer frites, really) or some inane assortment of bits of vegetable matter alongside, which I suppose is nice enough but I was there for significant food.
For a beef burger of such depraved, dissolute, debauched quality they seemed completely reasonably priced at £15 (with side selections). I’ve never had a more utterly wonderful burger than this foray into the oeuvre by Hawksmoor; further evidence that even with more straightforward food the limits of pleasure are yet to be defined or reached. Service at the restaurant was (as ever) friendly, enthusiastic, but unobtrusive. Their wine list continually gets more interesting, there is the top Pale Ale on offer and the scrumptious selections from their 1920s-themed cocktail list are awfully tempting. You cannot go far wrong at Hawksmoor. Unless you don’t like meat, of course (you unhinged, disturbed person).
Contact details: Hawksmoor, 157 Commercial Street, E1 6BJ Telephone: 020 7247 7392
This was a raunchy meal indeed. I wondered afterwards whether the addition of an egg might further enhance the burger? It goes well with the steak, so you told us, David. There was a time (many years ago), when I was a regular visitor to the Hammersmith Odeon, that I frequently enjoyed the egg burgers at a Greek eatery on the Broadway. I think it would work. But they really should do something about the chips at the Hawksmoor – they’re really a let-down. Everything else is brilliant. I love the place.