Harden's survey result
Huw Gott and Will Beckett “do the ‘casual excellence’ thing very well indeed” and their still über-fashionable steakhouse chain (founded in 2006) occupies a niche in the hearts of London’s fooderati like no other, with its “distinctly clubby” (“big, loud and busy”) style, its “to-die-for cocktails” and its “top steaks”: British-bred and “char-grilled to perfection over wood fires, with deliciously indulgent sides”. Ratings for such a phenomenon have sometimes seemed middling in comparison to its renown – a reflection of the very full pricing that’s always been their policy. That said, despite some accusations that “it’s all gone downhill in recent times”, its grades actually bounced back significantly this year, and remain in line with its past best. The City branch in particular shines. “Dark dens and out-of-this-world quality beef are the cornerstones of dealmaking. What deal would not reach a happy ending fuelled by a perfectly cooked rib-eye, grilled bone marrow, and beef dripping fries? Throw in a bottle or two of bordeaux and that IPO is around the corner!” Top Tips – “£5 corkage on Monday BYO is an incredible deal” and starting the day at the Guildhall branch: “if anyone can do a better breakfast I’d love to try it!”
“Mouth-watering steaks at eye-watering prices” is the harsh-but-fair summary on Huw Gott and Will Beckett’s famous and fashionable steakhouse chain. To its enormous cult following: “yes, it’s pricey, but – wow! – it’s worth it!”, thanks to its “melt-in-the-mouth” British-bred meat (some would say “the best in London”), “delicious sides”, “impressive cocktail menu”, and a “distinctly clubby” style that is, for a fair few expense-accounters, “perfect for business” too. With the inexorable expansion of the brand, though (next stop – NYC – with an opening in mid-2019, not far from Gramercy Park) has come an inexorable and ongoing decline in ratings, with increasing gripes about “hit-and-miss service”, an atmosphere that’s too “loud and busy”, and a feeling that “it’s not the Hawksmoor it used to be”.
Huw Gott and Will Beckett’s zeitgeisty steakhouse chain still hits just the right vibe for many savvy Londoners with their “casual but professional” service of “sublime” British-bred meat and “superb” cocktails, and for cooler business-types in particular “they never fail to impress”. Some “whopping price tags” give rise to complaints, but even though ratings have ebbed a little over the years with the roll-out of branch after branch (the latest in spring 2017 was a new “hipster” branch near Borough Market) the brand’s legions of fans remain very loyal: “It costs an arm and a leg, but you can rest assured that the arm and leg will be perfectly cooked!”
This cult steakhouse chain (soon to hit NYC) has carved a legendary reputation for its “expert” steaks featuring “brilliant quality” British-bred beef, and “glorious cocktails”, and it’s also a “go-to choice for a business lunch”. However, its ratings continue to slide – especially given the “noisy and unexceptional” ambience at some of the more “dull” locations – supporting those who say “Hawksmoor no longer stands out in a crowded field”, while, as ever, the bloated bills can seem “just too much like taking the whatsit”. All that said, the business is still on a roll and a new branch near Borough Market is to open in Spring 2017. Top Tip – “the stunning-looking Air Street branch is the best in the empire”.
Two earlier impromptu visits to this new(ish) East Ender, had found it impossible to find a table. Still, the wasted trips proved the place to be popular: sufficient incentive to plod back one last time down the grungy highway, north of Spitalfields Market. On a rainy Tuesday night, the place was impressively lively, but at last! a table could be found. And charmingly too: the efficient and engaging service here is a real strength.
Having gained entrance, the plain room really has only one main feature: a hugely well-stocked bar, set against an exposed brick wall. It's enough though to infect what potentially might be a featureless space with a convivial buzz.
The real point of the menu here is meat (though alternatives are available): all of it sourced from trendy butcher du jour, Ginger Pig. More particularly, steak is the big deal. It's available in various cuts, but seemingly invariably in Flintstone-esque portions.
We actually thought that the triple-cooked chips (10/10!) were the stars of the meal. But that's not to do down the meat itself, which was done to a turn as ordered (rare), juicy and well-seasoned. And the excellent pots of béarnaise, home-made tomato and pepper sauces served with it would be hard to beat as an accompaniment. The one quibble: one of the cuts was a tad chewy in parts.
Having avoided starters to leave space for the Main Event, and having largely run out of stamina thereafter, we managed a yummy (and sensibly modestly-sized) tarte tatin for the finale.
Truly decent steak-houses are still a surprisingly rare find in London. At least we got to this one in the end.
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lunch noon - 3 pm, dinner 6 pm - 10.30 pm
Last orders: 10.30 pm