The Grand Daddy of upmarket steakhouses, Hawksmoor’s original Spitalfields branch stands gloriously unravaged by the passing of time. Set on industrial-chic Commercial Street (a bit of Shoreditch drunk brunchers haven’t quite ruined yet) – the look inside is masculine without throwing its weight around – with a handsome exposed brick backed bar that makes you want to order one thousand martinis.
Starters were perfect: intense, velvety bone marrow topped with sweet, caramelised onions was served – wobbling exquisitely – in pale hollowed out bones. Blissfully rich, smearing this on toast was messy and wonderful. A pot of dense mackerel paté, by contrast, was fabulously tart, served with dill-flecked pickled onions. A kohlrabi salad of celery hearts too, was sour and fresh.
Hawksmoor is famous for its sides – the menu here features 16 – and some of them were excellent. The Caesar salad featured luxurious lettuce leaves dusted with soft parmesan, crutons, anchovies, and drizzled vinaigrette (no trad Caesar salad dressing here – a ballsy move, but Hawksmoor pulls it off). Others fell short: creamed spinach was salty, and the mac and cheese was dry.
But the real let down was the steak: the fillet came overcooked and ever-so-slightly cold. Things were rescued by soft, white, almost-sweet lobster – but still, underwhelming steak and creamed spinach feels complacent from a steakhouse with Hawksmoor’s devoted-to-the-point-of-evangelical following. Especially as eating here will cost you £100, easily.
Admittedly, the service matches that price-point: the waiter was an absolute pro. Fix that fillet, and Hawksmoor Spitalfields might become one of those national treasures that just get better year-on-year, like ‘Love Island’.