I love finding exciting new restaurants with unique, out there cuisines, so sometimes I neglect places that everyone loves, that does good, traditional dishes. For example, before I settled in for a very late lunch the other week at the branch of Hawksmoor in Knightsbridge, I could not remember the last time I had a meal at a proper steakhouse. The team at Bookatable again invited me along to try one of their Star Deals (the last one I reviewed was at Hutong up the Shard), so I decided a good steak at Hawksmoor would be just the ticket.
For £28 per head, you get 3 courses, and either cocktail or a glass of champagne, and from the limited menu you choose from, everything is from their main menu. We opted for one of each; a flute of champagne and their Tom & Jerez pre-dinner cocktail: Hayman's Old Tom Gin, sherry, pear, lemon, almond, and a green cocktail olive on the side. It was very, very enjoyable, and I could have ordered many more of these if I had not wanted to explore the rest of the cocktail menu (I had a free afternoon, after all!)
You are of course free to order add ons to the Star Deal, which I did when I noticed that they had Vietnamese Oysters on the menu, and that you could order only three or £8 (my lunch date is allergic to shellfish!) These were pretty incredible, and if called on I could probably have polished off a dozen by myself. Very good, plump, delicious oysters, with fish sauce, micro coriander, crispy shallot and served with a spritz of lime.
From the choice of starters he went for the Potted Beef and Bacon with Yorkshire Puddings with an onion gravy (which he said was good, and polished off), and I had the Brixham crab salad with brown shrimps and little gem lettuce. I was really impressed that they had no way skimped on the amount of crab and shrimp, and I loved the simple presentation. The only thing that put me off a little though, is there was simply so much celery in there, the flavour was a little overwhelming.
Time for a second round of cocktails. He ordered off-menu and asked the bar to make him a whisky sour (he orders them everywhere, and said that this one was satisfactory), and after getting rather indecisive, I told our server what sort of thing I liked, and he chose the Marmalade Cocktail for me: Beefeater gin, Campari, lemon and marmalade. Needless to say, I liked it so much I ended up having two.
What you really go to Hawksmoor for is the steak, which was sublime. We had the rib-eye, both rare, and they were both full of flavour, and perfectly cooked. Seriously, this was one of the very best steaks I've had in a long time, and I'd be perfectly happy to eat many, many more Hawksmoor steaks. You get to choose from a couple of sides, but you'd be amis if you don't order the triple cooked chips, which were some of the best chips I've had in ages, too. And they come with a rather wonderful homemade ketchup. Winning all around.
I was slightly less impressed by the desserts. My honeycomb cheesecake looked pretty, and the honeycomb was lovely, but it was a bit too sweet, and I did not manage to finish it. I was however informed that the vanilla ice cream and peach sorbet (the staple of set menus everywhere) was rather excellent.
You can browse all of Bookatable's Star Deals here (you need to book ahead), and you can find out more about Hawksmoor here. Okay, so not all of the dishes were 100%, but I want to go back to one of their branches for more oysters, another plate of steak and chips, more on-point cocktails, and perhaps to try more of their main menu, such as more of their seafood (hello scallop starters and a lobster-heavy surf and turf!)