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”.
Larger, if a touch less hip, than its Covent Garden sibling, the third member of this fashionable chain brings its impressively consistent steakhouse formula to a larger scaled City basement.
Anyone familiar with the Hawksmoor formula is going to have few surprises at the latest incarnation of the steakhouse mini-chain, tucked away near the Guildhall. The large dining room manages to look remarkably like its similarly subterranean Covent Garden sibling, and the menu, prices and the styling generally are all similarly faithful to the n-1 version (although the crowd, obviously, is rather less hip).
With about the same number of seats as the Wolseley, though, it's the largest member of the group, now three-strong, but the panelled main dining room was already getting a lot of traffic on our early days visit. Not exclusively male, either.
Quite what the ladies find they want to eat on this comprehensively manly menu, though, it's difficult to see - for our taste, the smallest steak on offer (a sirloin, £20) already verged on overwhelming. No denying the quality of the meat though, or the correctness of the cooking.
Particularly given the scale of the operation, service - plaid-clad, as elsewhere in the group - was both friendly, and impressively efficient. Lunching alone, your reporter was even offered a variety of newspapers - the sort of personal touch that helps you understand why the group continues to do so well.
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