Nicky Richmond discovers a Hawksmoor branch that does fish, and she’s rather impressed
I’d vaguely heard that there was a new Hawksmoor at the bottom of Regent Street but I didn’t really know.
Obviously, I should have known about the soft opening on 1 November and I should have had my table booked as soon as the opening was announced, but I also have a day job and sometimes that gets in the way.
I was out with two bankers again – this time a couple. They work for different banks, both of which are clients. As they kindly pointed out to me, you get to entertain two banks for the price of one. Result.
And I’ve been to this place before, oooh in about 1990, because it has seen a number of restaurants come and go, but I hadn’t been back since. Apparently, it was the former office of British Airways, not that you’d know it – here you step right into the 1930s. The restaurant is kitted out in green leather for the banquettes with a lot of dark wood and it’s very effective. It’s a massive space – 235 covers – but it’s broken up into different sections, so doesn’t feel like an aircraft hangar.
If you’ve been to any of the other Hawksmoor branches (and if not, I suggest Covent Garden), you’ll know that it’s all about the steak. Not here though. They’ve teamed up with Mitch Tonks to consult on their fish offering and very good it is too. The fish is generally done like the steak, simply and on charcoal. It’s a good tactic, offering fish, and now that they have opened up the Hawksmoor concept to non meat- eaters, I suspect that that they are likely to get more covers. But really, the Hawksmoor brand is all about the steak and to me they rise or fall on that.
And the steak is still great here, if expensive. My only quibble was that having asked for medium-rare it was actually pretty damn rare, but as I was sharing I didn’t want to send it back and when I’m entertaining I don’t like complaining – or at least not about the food.
But I get ahead of myself. We started with pork ribs, smoked salmon and chicory salad. Not all on one plate, naturally. All of them were good, simple dishes with fresh ingredients and decent accompaniments. And then sea-bream and a porterhouse steak. The curiously named Jansson’s temptation gets a particular mention – it’s a variety on the classic dauphinoise, with a few anchovies. It was excellent.
We also had sides of spinach and, of course, chips. We had a little malted vinegar drama. I know, middle class problems. We asked for it and we knew that the purple-coloured vinegar delivered wasn’t the thing, despite their protestations. Eventually, persisting, we got it. These things matter with chips. And their own tomato sauce. Call me a complete and utter pleb (it seems to be the rage), but I prefer Heinz. Okay, shoot me now.
And because we were stuffed, we only had one dessert and some salted caramel Rolos. I wonder whether they can actually call them Rolos if they aren’t actually Rolos. I’m thinking passing off and other such things, but that is the sad life of a lawyer. Never off duty.
Anyway they brought us four. I’ve seen from other reviews that they usually bring three and I like to think that there was an unusual level of care in bringing us four because we were sharing. Leave me with that illusion please.
And the Jaffa cake dessert was oh-my-god good Sounds of deep joy emanated from the other side of the table, with insistence that I try it. Oh my God, he was right. Worth going back just for that I’d say.
Best for: client lunches or dinners when not on a tight budget. Fabulous cocktails.
Worst for: Bargain hunters.
Nicky Richmond is managing partner at Brecher