Mr Manning and I love meat, like really, really love it. We sometimes joke that the first time we realised we were meant to be was during a conversation about lamb chops when we realised we both secretly like the fat…(only when it’s really crispy and melt-in-the-mouth of course). Gross to some, but to us, it meant love.
So, for us a perfect evening usually involves food, and most commonly – meat! So where better than somewhere renowned as the best steak in the capital.
There a several branches of Hawksmoor in London – but I was reliably informed (by a vegetarian strangely enough) that Seven Dials was the best to go to. And I will happily take said vegetarian’s recommendation on carnivore-suitable restaurants in the future after our experience here.
You could nearly walk past Hawskmoor. Unassuming and somewhat enigmatic, you’re greeted at the top of a set of stairs that take you to a cavern-like restaurant, full of all the promise of a good feed you hope you’re there for.
The bar itself is an experience – excellent cocktails to whet your appetite. Knowledgeable staff, and an atmosphere that I always think is the true sign of a good restaurant. No airs and graces, just great service to every customer – regardless of their age, dress-style, or accent.
The menu is just right – obviously full of various cuts of cow, with the added excitement of the blackboards on the wall showing which sizes of which cuts were left. The Mannings’ mouths watering, we struggled to choose whether we loved each other enough to share one huge cut, or would be better with our own meals. Obviously the prospect of getting an even bigger slab of meat won out – a cut to share it was. Bring on a kilo of bone-in prime rib. And boy, was it worth it.
We eschewed starters, concerned not to repeat previous mistakes of filling up before the main event.
And when ordering, we were presented with another surefire sign of a good restaurant – knowledgeable staff. Apparently because our piece of beef was so huge, we were better off having it medium-rare, a usual no-no for both of us, but definitely right.
And so it came. A wonderfully char-grilled, yet pink throughout, cut of prime rib. Cooked perfectly to complement its marbling, the taste was perfect. Hawksmoor’s stilton hollandaise won over non-sauce eater Mr Manning, who succumbed to its charms. And we both conceded to the idea of accompaniments with beef dripping fries (yes, it really isn’t a place for vegetarians!) and some buttered greens. They say the best things are the simple things (do they, or is that just my husband that says it? Either way, I agree on this occasion). Perfectly cooked beef, accompanied with just the right size portions of sides, designed in no way to detract from the main event.
We washed it all down with a rather nice bottle of Spanish red, the perfect accompaniment to great steak.
Greedy as we are we couldn’t resist the desserts. Ice-cream for him, and a luscious chocolate caramel salted tart. Completely unnecessary, but fabulous again.
Folks, I could go on and on and on about how wonderful this meal was. Trust me, we’ve eaten a lot of steaks, a lot of big cuts of beef, in a lot of places, and we agree this was the best.
Perhaps part of the reason is the fact in restaurants it’s so rarely just about the food. At the Hawksmoor, you’re not just there for the scran (as Mr M would call it!), you’re there for the experience. The atmosphere – something slightly forbidden and so wonderful; the service – being treated like a star for a night; and the perfect balance of fine dining and a fab night with great food and great company, somewhere you can relax and savour every mouthful.
If Food be the Music of Love, play on Hawskmoor, I say!