New York, NY
There is an abundance of steakhouses in New York but I have to be honest that I find most of them rather dated and overly “serious”. When I go out to eat, I definitely judge restaurants by how stiff I have to be so to speak when I go in. You might think that as someone who goes to fine dining restaurants on a regular basis, I would encounter this sort of environment but that is truly not the case with the places that I visit. The feelings that I have with the others is just overly serious, overwhelming and over abundant and you must well understand that this is not an experience that I want to have on a frequent basis. That said, I do love the taste of a beautifully seared slab of cow… ribeye being my favorite cut
The marbling on that cut is just beyond anything that my brain can process and it is close to impossible to prepare it incorrectly. So that’s why when I heard about Hawksmoor, a new steakhouse that originated in London, my interest was peaked. I have a soft spot for London so I was curious to see what style they would bring to influence their location in the city. I was impressed with the space and the vibe the minute I walked in. There was something lively and yet upscale about the feel of the restaurant. There is something chill and yet sexy at the same time. It is young, full of vitality and yet mature at the same time. My overall feel just on walking is that it is a beautiful mesh of opposites in a yet still balanced manner.
Now I got there an hour early because for once I got off work early and I did not want to sit in my apartment and wait. Once I walked in, I was in love as I could smell just how delicious the wafts of the food being prepared was. When I say you can taste how delicious their food is by the scents, I mean it. I checked in for my reservation and asked if I could sit by the bar pending that time. It is first come first serve so I was readily obliged and walked to an available seat in the center with prime access to the bartenders. I smiled… I loved the view of the show that I knew I was about to have there. I love bartenders and watching them work just about the same as I love watching chefs work. What can I say, it is a thing with me and is a part of the dining experience for me. A booklet was put in front of me and I knew that I was about to have a very serious bar game experience. This booklet is chock full of cocktails and spirits and at the back has one, maybe two pages for wine by the glass. As I have mentioned before, I am a wine and not cocktail woman but I felt that I would be doing this book a disservice if I did not try at least one. I mean I should if for nothing else than to have another cocktail bar to be able to recommend to other people when I am asked. I ended up having two on my first visit and three on a subsequent visit to the bar only two days later.
The first cocktail was the sour cherry Negroni. Negronis are my favorite cocktail and I always order one if I see it on the menu. It is kind of my measure of a good cocktail program in an establishment. It is really hard to mess up a Negroni but you will find some people still do. In any case, this was a rendition that I have never had before. I find that people always try to jazz up and transform the simplicity of the Negroni so seeing that this was sour cherry piqued my interest but also my apprehension. This was phenomenal and probably one of the best (if not the best) Negroni that I have had in the city. Negronis generally have a light and not overwhelming sweetness to them which is really why I like them but the sweetness from this one was distinct and different because of the pairing bitter brought on by the participation of the sour from the exact same cherry. There was balance in the divergence and you all know how much I love when simplicity of flavors arises out of seemingly complex ingredients. Magnificent.
Next I had the Tom & Jerez cocktail. To be honest, I do not remember in detail what I tasted with this one from the perspective of how each of the ingredients played with one another. This is a gin-based cocktail with manzilla sherry, lemon juice, pear and almond. What I remember about this cocktail was that the lemon juice was softly dominant as you would expect with lemon but the pear cut through the tartness with its sweetness. On the nose, it was definitely more the pear which I found to be interesting. I really did not taste any of the almond (or at least I do not remember) and I feel that its unique nuttiness would be an interesting element to see how it fit in and played against the lemon and pear.
On my second visit, I had the Hawksmoor Calling. I had this at the end of my meal when I had yet again overstuffed myself and I was ripping at the seams. This cocktail is refreshing, carbonated and aromatic because of the Camomile that it contains. The carbonation helped with settling my belly quite a bit.
I had the night nurse on my second visit to the restaurant. This cocktail was made of two whiskeys, a dewars 12 and a laphroiag 10. It also had beeswax, honey and ginger. The first thing that I noticed was the distinctive smokey after taste of the laphroiag on each swallow. It was absolutely phenomenal. On the flavors with each sip, the honey is definitely the dominant flavor but it is not overwhelming. The entire sip is smooth and silky giving a very “sip and chill” with a sophisticated cocktail vibe. This is something you should order when you just want to feel elevated and extra classy. It is quite a cocktail that should not be missed.
The Ginza Highball was a sweet cocktail but also refreshing, I think the lemon within it was the culprit that brought that element to the fore. Though there was no pear in it by taste on my palate, that is the level of sweetness that I am referring to as opposed to sugar sweet. The notes on the nose with every sip was also spectacular.
I have definitely found where I am going to share with people when they ask where to go to have a great cocktail. Now let us move on to what you come to me for… the food. Oh hold on, let me run you through the look of main dining room. It is absolutely gorgeous! It is large with a high and almost dome like on the roof. The lighting of the room is still dim but definitely brighter than the bar area. It is bold and you almost get the feel of walking into a room as an insanely well regarded person where everyone stops and looks at you. Now of course that does not actually happen but I am just trying to explain the grandiosity of it all. The ceilings also have artwork on it so do not forget to look up and take it in. Like the bar where I was front and center to the bartenders, I had a wonderful view of the kitchen to entertain me. I will be honest that for once I actually did not look up. I was enjoying my meal and experience way too much. So I sat down and asked for the sommelier to order my wine as usual. To my VERY pleasant surprise, she was a black woman. In all my years of dining, I do not believe that I have ever seen that so I took a moment to pause and take it in. I am a part of a wine society for black women because I love wine so much, so to see that there is actually representation of us in this field professionally brought a lot of joy to my heart. We had a great conversation and open discussion about the dishes that I was going to order and the wine that would pair well with it. We settled on a natural wine from Jura which was drier and had more structure which is atypical of wines from that region. In any case, delicious bottle and choice.
Ok this time, I am really going to get to the food. I had the bone marrow with caramelized onions, ribeye cooked to medium rare temperature and the grand Roche for dessert. I had a subsequent visit to the restaurant two days later as I have mentioned earlier… and on this visit I had the grilled oysters with bone marrow and the pork belly. This was all phenomenal and I cannot wait to go back and eat more of the menu. Let me finally give you some more detail now.
My first dish was the bone marrow with caramelized onions and toast. Oh my gawd! If you miss this dish you are committing a crime and should be arrested. I had food orgasms on this one and was internally happy dancing with every bite. I am very picky about my bone marrow because most times I have had it, its preparation makes it overwhelming like way too much fat. That makes it off-putting for me. This preparation though left a flavor of smoke on the palate and the natural sweetness of the caramelized onions additionally added complexity to the dish. It broke apart the fatty flavor of the bone marrow while still not overwhelming and completely eliminating its richness. I enjoyed this with the pairing toast and my wine. The structure of the wine became smoother and loosened when sipped with the dish where natural wine for me generally is all over the place.
The second time I went to the restaurant, I wanted more of the bone marrow but I noticed that they had another dish on the menu including the same. This was the grilled oysters with bone marrow. I was very interested to see how they would balance the salty brine of the oysters with the richness of the bone marrow. I assumed that this might be a bit jarring as these are two completely different flavors at opposite ends of the spectrum. Instead, the dish was incredibly rich from the marrow and balanced without any overpowering of any one ingredient. It was as if the brine of the oysters had soaked in to the fat of the bone marrow giving quite a phenomenal taste
I have to be honest about the pork belly. It is phenomenal and delicious in its flavors but it is not for me. It is like a fat bomb in the mouth and as I just mentioned, too much fat for me is not the greatest experience. It is basted in a black umami sauce that has sweet and savory flavors. It very much leans towards asian flavors which made me wonder if there was possibly soy sauce in the mix? Who knows…
And now for the big guy and everything you come to a steakhouse for… the steak!. I ordered the Ribeye medium rare but I think I will order rare next time as it is just SO juicy and I wanted more of that flavor in my mouth. The steak came out and I looked at it and thought, “Now that is what I call a beautiful slab of cow”… it was perfectly cooked to medium rare temparature as well. I used to watch Gordon Ramsay quite a bit on Hell’s Kitchen and how he would test that a steak was good to go. It was a finger test where you tap the top and depending on the firmness you can tell its internal temperature. So yes I did in fact do the Gordon Ramsay finger test before diving in. The texture when cut in to is incredibly delicate and the knife just slides through the meat. This was because the cut and quality of the meat was spectacular with the exact right amount of marbling. There is just that delicious fattiness to a ribeye that cannot be explained. They kept it simple and classic with just some salt and pepper. Perfectly seasoned. This thing is just wow! The creamed spinach was delicious but I really do prefer creamier. But this is just me and my preference. The creamed spinach with steak gave a powerhouse of fattiness in my mouth that needed to be cut down. I was hoping that the wine would do that but no dice. Instead the red fruit was emphasized in the wine. Do yourself a favor and pause between every chew. Let the juice of the steak linger on your tongue… ecstasy. Beef fat fries are cut perfectly and are just right on crispiness. The flavor of the beef fat is MOST DEFINITELY present.
They have quite a few appealing options for dessert on the menu. I am not the biggest dessert fan as I do not have a sweet tooth but it all just looked too good so I figured that I must try at least one. I settled on the Grande Roche which comes with an edible gold leaf. If you have ever had a Ferrero Roche candy, this is their spin on that treat. There is a hard shell which I cracked open by banging with my spoon and out spewed this thick pudding of hazelnut cream This is rich and filling and divine luxury in my mouth at its best. A must eat for sure.
So that was my experience with Hawksmoor and best believe that I will be back VERY soon. I not only want but NEED more of their food in my life. People it was busy and reservations were had to get but try and try your best. This is a restaurant that is not to be missed. Everyone needs to experience the cocktails, wine and food at Hawksmoor at least once in their life.
Cheers and till next time all.