Most Londoners will have heard of Hawksmoor. Since the first opened, back in 2006, it’s been the darling of the steak scene. That original branch is near Christ Church Spitalfields, built by architect Nicholas Hawksmoor – hence the name – and is a full-of-character but smaller space. But this Covent Garden offshoot, launched in 2010, just as the area was becoming fashionable again, is the group's well-deserved flagship.
Set in a big, buzzy basement, with low, flattering lighting, it’s great for a long lunch, a birthday dinner, a hot date and everything in between. A converted brewery, it's hugely atmospheric, with plenty of original features including the gently arched brick ceilings and cast-iron columns.
As for the food, it’s still great. You can’t really put a foot wrong here, and though the beef is of course excellent, it does a mean line in seafood, too. On a recent visit, a slice of toast buried under an avalanche of delicate white crab meat was a hit; as was a skin-off, on-the-bone monkfish swimming in garlicky, herb-flecked butter. Don’t overlook the huge selection of sides: they’re stars in their own right (especially the moreish cauliflower cheese).
One tip: you'll find standard steaks on the menu at any time, but to get your pick of the larger blackboard cuts before they’re crossed off, you’ll need to arrive early. All the better to sink a few killer cocktails and settle in for the night.