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Feb 14, 2011 03:47 AM

Hawksmoor Seven Dials [London]

I went to the Hawksmoor for the first time last weekend so here is a very short review:

Room: As if Jules Verne designed a train station in 1920's Chicago; it is wholly underground and I felt strangely claustrophobic during my meal, though it is still a great looking restaurant. I think the room is better suited to nighttime than to a Sunday morning meal simply because it is dark.

Service: Waiter was proficient, but instantly unlikeable There were three of us dining, and we each ordered the roast, though I asked if it would be possible to substitute the roast potatoes for mash. He was very hesitant about the prospect of this substitution and tried to talk me out of it, though once he approached the kitchen there was clearly no problem as my lunch arrived sans roast potatoes with a side of mash. He also forgot my chips (which he also tried to dissuade me from ordering) which was annoying because once I reminded him they arrived when I had already eaten my mash, and was thus no longer craving chips.

Food: We only ordered roast beef so cannot comment extensively, but found the meal to be good, but on the heavy side. The meat was very gamey and the portions were almost too large; they used a rump roast which isn't the tenderest cut of meat so their cutting the beef slices close to an inch thick made cutting off bites a fair effort. At £17.50, the roast was the cheapest beef option on the menu (and the cheapest cut), and I thought they should have offered a rib-roast as well. The sides were absolutely amazing; the cabbage was almost worth the cost of the whole meal, as were the mash and other veggies.

Conclusion: I would return and have a steak, but not the roast. I also have read the burger is amazing, so will certainly return for that!

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  1. The burger really is something to behold. The sweetness of the bun and the use of bone marrow to bind the mince makes it sensational.

    6 Replies
    1. re: ManInTransit

      I'll definitely go try that -- marrow in the mince sounds bonkers in a good way!

      1. re: brokentelephone

        It's bonkers, all right. I tried it a few weeks ago - and couldn't finish it. The char on the outside of the burger was absolutely perfect! But the meat blend was just too rich and fatty for me. I'd actually like them to do a meat mix which tones down the marrow, or maybe blends in some short ribs instead. Don't get me wrong - I love the idea and the flavour is fabulous - it's just a question of degree. And the bun...while it tasted great, it couldn't absorb the juices - by the end I had a (yummy) mess on my hands. I'd go back, but with my girlfriend, to share a burger between the two of us. That would suffice. The fries are good - we tried both the beef fat and the triple-cooked chips - but while I think they'd be great with steak, neither worked particularly well with the burger: they were a bit too thick and redolent of potato starch. Go, by all means...but starve yourself for 24 hours before-hand.

        I'm still a fan of Bar Boulud's burger, but it tastes somehow a bit too upmarket (I know that doesn't make sense). And the burger at Goodman is pretty darned good. Tried Meateasy in New Cross last week and was really disappointed - decent meat but not great flavour, the fries and onion rings came out cold and a bit soggy, and their 'buffalo wings' were missing the sauce. How can you have buffalo wings without the sauce? That's what makes them buffalo wings! (That said, the vibe of the place was lovely, and the bartenders made the trip alone worthwhile.)

        At the risk of going well off-topic - any other contenders for Best Burger in London?

        1. re: esharpest

          There are a couple of old burger threads... just search 'Best Burgers.'

          1. re: esharpest

            "I'd go back, but with my girlfriend, to share a burger between the two of us."

            Lightweight! ;) My better half and I easily polished one off each after a day of grazing round London. We had one ogleshield and one colston basset topped money is on the ogle.

            Tbh that burger was probably the highlight of our last trip....I just thought it was fantastic, that they nailed it. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

            Interesting to hear your report on the Meateasy. I missed out on getting to the Meatwagon before it got half inched. Hopefully they have something lined up for when the Easy finishes in March is it?

            1. re: ooglewoogle

              Oh, it gets worse - it wasn't even a cheeseburger; I had it without cheese and it was still too much! Guess I need to work on my gutbuster-eating skills.

              Yes, Meateasy finishes in March - and AFAIK nothing has been announced for the sequel. Mind you, I'm still perplexed by the fact the chap didn't have insurance for his wagon!

              1. re: esharpest

                I have heard through the grapevine that the Meateasy guy has been offered a space in Covent Garden.

      2. Have had 3 of their burgers on 2 separate occasions in both locations. In all cases they were way oversalted, to the point where it caused discomfort to eat. The culprit is likely the Ogleshield cheese, which is rather salty but pretty good on its own. A case of combining good ingredients to somewhat disastrous effect. The Sunday roast at the Spitalfields branch was good; the one I had was firm, meaty but not effortful to chew.

        5 Replies
        1. re: limster

          Limster I think they now offer an alternative cheese although off the top of my head I forget what.

          1. re: ManInTransit

            I think the choices are what ooglewoogle mentioned above - the alternative would be the colston bassett blue cheese, probably the stilton iirc.

            1. re: limster

              I had a burger yesterday and it was a very underwhelming experience. The bread had a very good texture and OK flavour (not quite sweet or absorbent enough) but the meat was surprisingly dry and flavourless and the ogleshield cheese was just all wrong. It tasted similar to a mild raclette cheese that completely overpowered rather than complemented the (already lacking) flavour of the meat. Toppings were OK and the beef dripping chips were the star of the show (though not really a burger chip). This is just another case of a restaurant trying to mess around with a 'gourmet' burger and the sum being less than its parts. A polite burger is no longer a good burger.

              1. re: plummonk

                Finally made it to Hawksmoor last night and had the legendary kimchi burger. It works SO well - the pungent, vinegary, spicy hit cutting through the fat of the burger and the cheese. Beautiful. Cooked to a perfect medium rare and not overloaded which meant I could actually pick it up to eat it - a surprisingly difficult thing with a lot of London burgers - albeit with juice dripping all over the place...Will be back. They also now have a very passable looking lobster roll, based on the Red's Eats shack in Maine.

                157 Commercial Street, London E1 6BJ, GB

                1. re: helen b

                  Thanks so much for mentioning the lobster roll. That's something I'll definitely give a try as I haven't had one .... well, since I was in Maine a long time ago. The roll component is very important, too, so I hope they got that part right.