The Shed

If I can't eat it I don't want to know. Unless it gets me drunk.

Category: review

Hawksmoor Seven Dials

The Sinking Spritz, taken by Tehbus on a proper camera, like.
The Twittersphere runneth over. The blog posts are trickling through. Only if you’ve been living under a rock will you be unaware of the new Hawksmoor in Seven Dials. Everyone else: I hope you had a great meal. Offering a 50% discount on food for their week-long soft-opening made for a full restaurant and busy kitchen. If staff were feeling the strain when I attended on their sixth day of madness, they sure as beef weren’t showing it. I’d have felt bad about getting the food half price had we not so gallantly made up the bill with seven hours of cocktail consumption.

Here’s a small selection of the other blog posts which on the whole are bigger, better, brighter, and have more pretty pictures.

And here’s my top five. I’m not going to include the meat because it’s “***king brilliant” and you all knew that already.

5. Décor. Every reclaimed door, swirly leather bar stool, the art Deco lamps and sexy little cocktail glasses – they’ve all been chosen with such care and attention to detail that I’m almost surprised they let the general public in. The place is stunning, which really adds to the sense of occasion; you’re not going out for steak, you’re going out for steak at Hawksmoor.

4. The Lobster roll. The tender, succulent flesh from a whole lobster finished with hazelnut and garlic butter, served warm in a light brioche bun with Bearnese on the side. Absolutely stupendous, and deliciously messy to eat. Well worth the wedge.

3. Dripping cooked chips. Hard to describe without transgressing into a Homer Simpson-esque dribbly pool, these are serious potato fun times. Like the best roast potatoes you’ve ever had only with a higher degree of crispy surface area, more perfectly seasoned than granny on the olorosso.

2. Hawksmoor Tomato Ketchup. Yes, for real. It really is that good. If you’re going to serve such high-grade meat you need a ketchup to match, and this definitely keeps up with the cow.

1. The bar, its staff, everything they make and do. Ever. Best appreciated in smaller numbers; as a party of two we had private audience with each of the talented bar team in turn. You might walk in thinking you know your stuff but these chaps will blow you and Your Mate Who Makes A Lovely Martini out of the water, and then some. Explore the painstakingly assembled list before going off piste and ordering a Sinking Spritz from Rich. Properly inspirational stuff. They have an impressive array of botanicals and bitters perched on the bar which they’ll happily explain as you make your way down the menu. It would be educational if it didn’t encourage you to drink so much.

So a bit good, then. Essentially, Hawksmoor sells you pleasure. They take wholesome chunks of beef, sex things up with butter sauces and bone marrow and medal-worthy chips, make you toe-curlingly fabulous cocktails before sending you on your way wishing you were as cool as them. You’ll only have one question about your visit: when can I come back?

The Drapers Arms

Minutes away from Upper Street on a quiet norf Laandan street, lies the Drapers Arms. Occupying the vaguely uncomfortable spot between public house and restaurant, it’s not the sort of place you’d go for relaxing pints on a Sunday, nor is it an all-out Saturday night bank-buster. If you’re looking for a mid-week treat, however, the DA is your man.
We get off to a cracking start with a board of complimentary bread and butter. Decent brown bread – good amount of chew, nice crusty crust – and quality unsalted butter. The latter brought debate; I enjoy unsalted butter as it allows me to go nuts with the grinder, Mr Shed prefers his butter avec salt and sans effort. The bread was replenished after we devoured the first lot, a very good sign indeed.

I started with brawn, enjoying the look on (non meat-eater) MrS’s face when I explained what it is. A little fridge cold, but loose and silky once it warmed a little, and most importantly tasted of good quality piggy. On it’s own I would have found it the teeniest bit under seasoned, but paired with salty, acidic little cornichon, the whole thing was balanced beautifully. More of their lovely bread, this time toasted which helped to warm the terrine. MrS had a bowl of luscious squash and sage soup, very well made, even perhaps turning the tide on my sage hating ways.

We looked to the sea for main courses; gilt head bream and creamed black cabbage, and lemon sole with salsify. Both were PERFECTLY cooked, total A grade skillz. Stonkingly fresh, seasoned well without any heavy handedness, finished with a browned butter and nice crispy skin to boot. My salsify didn’t do an awful lot for me, but did provide a nice enough vessel for transporting fish to mouth. A little squeeze of the lemons provided rounded both dishes off nicely.

After his whopping great bream – the size of the beast! -MrS eschewed dessert. A glutton to the end I had a wobbling, unctuous buttermilk pudding, a panacotta in ye olde Englishe if you will. The buttermilk gave a lactic, lemony note which I loved, something I’ll be recreating at home. A dependable blackcurrant compote was perfectly nice, but to be honest it was a little superfluous: the pudding was good enough without. A pretty decent double espresso and we’re done.
Niggles? Very few. I was a little disappointed to note that they’ve yet to add any of our superb English plonk to the wine list, especially with the menu championing British stalwarts like brawn, Arbroath smokies, smoked eel and beef and ale pie. If I were to nitpick, the main courses were a little long in arriving, but all is forgiven when the food is so pleasurable, and the dining room was very busy.
The damage: a very reasonable £65, including drinks and excluding service, the latter of which was friendly, and efficient on the whole. It represents, for me, a fairly extravagant mid-week haunt, but one which I hope to revisit in the not-too-distant-future.

The Drapers Arms