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FIRST LOOK: Hawksmoor (Air Street) “Fish with your steak sir?” Hawkmoor goes surf AND turf


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Hawksmoor
5 Air Street, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0AD

VISIT DATE: 04-Nov-2012 12h00 (First Visit)”

Hawksmoor is well known among London Diners for its solid reputation as steak heaven. However, for their fourth venue Hawksmoor have departed from their usual ‘steak-centric’ offering to share the menu with fish!

The shift to seafood is an interesting move for Hawksmoor. As a well known steak venue this step has briefly confused a few people, including myself. I wasn’t aware of the ‘surf’ movement until a little before the soft launch! Hawksmoor has brought in the expertise of well known fish chef Mitch Tonks, of The Seahorse in Devon to look after proceedings!

Hawksmoor Air Street – Medium Rare Fillet Steak (250g)

FIRST IMPRESSION
For those familiar with ‘Cocoon’, the previous nightclub incarnation of this venue, it is structurally very similar. If I recall correctly the large nightclub bar has been ejected but that’s all. As you ascend the sweeping staircase one is greeted by a 50 seater bar area with a bartender’s station on the left. The restaurant itself, is surprisingly long and seats a sizable 235 diners

Hawksmoor Air Street – Silver Bullet (Gin Kummel & Lemon Juice) from the ‘Eye Opener’ section of the cocktail menu

BAR & COCKTAILS
I have been a fan of the cocktail team at the Hawksmoor Seven Dials for a while now. With members of that venue coming over from the sister site it doesn’t surprise me that the drinks are exactly the same high quality. Of particular note in the new menu is the “Full Fat Old Fashioned”… those with high cholesterol levels turn away now! This tastes like an Old Fashioned which has been blended with ‘essence of Butterkist popcorn’. The bar manager explained that this was achieved by using slowly infusing bourbon with clarified butter in a sous-vide machine. Absolutely delicious!

SERVICE
As per their other venues, the reputation of the service at Hawksmoor is fantastic. Their waiter staff training was even featured in the Financial Times recently. After explaining my dilemma of wanting to eat fish AND steak, my waiter deftly offered a smaller cut of steak and fish which he had written down on a little pad and guided me through suitable sides.

STEAK & FISH
I ordered fish and steak. Logically, the sides were listed next to each section.

  • 250g Fillet Steak (with a Bone Marrow side)
  • 250g grilled turbot (with Shaved Fennel & Watercress Salad)
  • English Lettuce & Herb Salad

Hawksmoor Air Street – Turbot (250g)

Although the steak was great and exactly what I expected from Hawksmoor, I was most impressed with turbot. As a very ‘meaty fish’ in texture, I found myself swapping my fish knife for my steak knife. This was also my feedback to an Assistant General Manager, Sara, who was greeting several lunchtime diners and taking feedback. She told me that they had this conversation and this was in consideration.

Firstly I was impressed that management was taking the time to solicit feedback, and secondly that they had already picked this up. I also made a comment on my twitter “Turbot so fantastically meaty you need a steak knife!” which elicited a response of “If you need a steak knife for fish, it was badly cooked.”. Although I corrected it to just “knife” rather than “steak knife”, I don’t see the issue as the texture was 25% along the line between a nice cod and a steamed lobster. Additionally, I liked it! (Any other opinions welcome).

The side of ‘Shaved Fennel & Watercress Salad’ worked very well with the fish as the dressed fennel was cooked lightly enough to have a nice crisp bite and the watercress gave a nice peppery flavour.

Hawksmoor Air Street – Bone Marrow… huge and lightly seasoned with salt!

Alongside the steak I ordered the £4 bone marrow. This was presented as a ‘Flintsones-opening-scene’ sized bone split down the middle and served with two long spoons. If you like marrow, this is definitely one for you. It was actually a little too rich for me to eat it all myself and it is really a portion for two. But for you gluttons out there who love this stuff, you won’t be disappointed!

I am not a big dessert fan, but I thought that I should make a token effort and ordered the “salted caramel rolos” which came as a triplet on a small plate. If anyone is a fan of Paul A Young’s award winning sea salted caramels definitely get these!

SUMMARY
There a number of new entrants to the London steak restaurant offering. Notably Mash which opened on Saturday following 2 days of drinks receptions, and the rather confusing STK. These guys are surreally claiming to be “female-friendly” and “to artfully blend two concepts into one — the modern steakhouse and a chic lounge”. They also have the slightly bemusing strapline of “Not your daddy’s steakhouse”.

I have no evidence to back up this statement, but I strongly suspect these newcomers were attracted by the success of Hawksmoor and Goodmans in the top end London steak market. However, with such a high and CONSISTENT level of service, their top-notch steak and now fish I’m pretty certain that Hawksmoor don’t have much to fear from their new rivals.

Hawksmoor
Ad: 5 Air Street, London W1J 0AD (map)
Ww: thehawksmoor.com
Tw: @HawksmoorLondon

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