I love a bit of quality beef, but it does seem to be somewhat démodé at the moment with it getting a “green” slating regardless, seemingly, of source.
I have no issues with people who have a plant based only diet (people can eat what they like – nutella aside), but I do struggle with comparisons made between meat (always negatively, followed by “let’s tax it to death” oddly, quite often, from people who would benefit most financially from it 🤔) and plant based food, which ignore the benefits of buying locally sourced high quality and high welfare (rather than mega farmed) meat as against exotic mono crops and (often highly processed) end product plant based foods imported from far flung destinations (palm oil, avocados, coffee and almond milk, for instance, not being great).
Now clearly how a lot of (intensively farmed) meat is produced is very bad for the environment (and on a myriad of other levels – usually taste sh*te too), but I am very much opposed to the view that all meat should be slung into the same “it’s awful” box. Is a small, high welfare, beef farm in the UK as bad as a palm oil plantation in Borneo or an avocado one in Mexico when you factor all things into the equation (including getting it here)? Don’t know if am honest, but some beef can, it seems, actually be pretty close to net carbon zero or potentially even carbon negative based on sequestration (depending on how you measure it, I suspect) and that is the aim isn’t it?
All things in moderation seems a reasonable mantra to me and personally I see locally sourced, high quality, high welfare, beef and seasonal, locally grown, veg. (i.e. a good Sunday dinner) fitting right in with that ethos.
This brings me to Hawksmoor, whose beef is all sourced from small production farms in the UK, with the stock feed on grass and hay. As a result you have none of the air miles or habitat destruction (from the beef or the feed) and the benefit of high welfare (which is great). To me, however, their big selling point is the flavour that come with their beef (other brownie points are great, but if it doesn’t actually taste of something nice it all becomes rather pointless). All too often beef (the cheap stuff I studiously try and avoid) tastes of precisely bugger all – a case of an “all mastication and no taste sensation“, but from my experiences of Hawksmoor beef there is never a wasted chew.
Whilst I have been many times to various of their outlets in London and beyond, I have never had their well regarded Sunday lunch. This operate on the basis of a choice of roast beef, roast beef or roast beef. For those who don’t fancy the roast dinner that there is always the main menu (and you can always supplement your roast with extra sides – if you are a total glutton) or the door.
A trip up to London (I had forgotten how “medieval torture chamber” the seats on GWR’s new trains are) for my Father’s 80th birthday and being evicted early (they were off to Scotland) gave me the chance (with my Sister’s family) to try said Sunday lunch at the Seven Dials branch.
The understated exterior hides an absolutely lovely dining and bar area.
I have always been rather enamoured with the decor in each and every Hawksmoor. They always just ooze charm, being classy without being brassy.
On the food front, I could have availed myself of anything from the main menu
but I was there for the roast beef diner (£23),
with the allude of slow roasted rump and all the trimming.
My sister and I are quite particular when it comes to the doneness of our beef (a family trait) and it has to be pretty (in) pink to pass muster. It was, therefore, gratifying to be asked exactly how we would like our beef cooked.
When the plates arrives, we were both very happy with both the doneness and the quantity of the beef
Lovely ruby core to it and a fabulous (heavily seasoned) cap of fat.
The beef had that lovely richness of flavour you only get from quality dry aged beef and the generous cap of fat was just a total flavour bomb.
Aligned to the undoubted quality of this beef was a generosity in term of quantity. Two, very thick cut, slabs represented a very hearty yeoman’s portion and thus good value (if not cheap – pays you money and takes your choice as the saying goes) I thought.
In terms of the overall package, with the trimming, you certainly get a decent plateful
A very volumous Yorkie (only with beef, if you please, J), with the right texture (not too soggy and not too crisp) to enable gravy to be poured into it and retained.
Good buttery and herb infused carrots were better than the spring greens. The latter, whilst having a good flavour, were a tad tough and a bit stalky (possibly due to being just out of season).
A nice touch was a roasted half onion and roasted half head of garlic. The later was a rather good additional condiment, over and above the supplied horseradish, to smear on the roasties and the beef.
Talking of the roasties, these were the one (or two if count the slightly stalky greens) slight disappointment. Three in total is a bit stingy (strange when they were so generous with the beef) and they lacked the duffed up crunchy exterior of a top notch roasted pot.
Gravy exuded beefiness from the judicious (and welcome) use of bone marrow and was plentiful,
with a boat each and top ups if needed.
With the beef (rightly) very much the star of the show, this was a classy Sunday dinner. Only the pots, slightly, let the side down.
Being as full as an egg and with a journey back on a GWR “Torquemada” class train (for me) and bus (for my sister and co. – they may just of got back home a week later) to look forward to we all passed on the puds.
They did sound good, but a sticky toffee pudding (with clotted cream) would probably have finished me off after a heavy weekend.
I had earlier inhaled a salt beef, pickle and mustard bagel from the Beigel Bakery on Brick Lane for breakfast,
to address a somewhat thick head from the night before, so was fit to burst at this point.
After the aforementioned heavy night, a “hair of the dog” libation was needed.
Whilst rather tempted by the sherry based “Tom and Jerez” ( not sure the pun works quite so well when you know a”J” in Spanish is pronounced like a raspier English “H”),
the Hawksmoor’s classic Shaky Pete (£10.50) was just the ticket.
A mix of lemon, ginger, gin and London Pride bitter, served in a chilled half pint glass, this is such a refreshing drink (got to like a heavy hit of ginger to like this mind) and doesn’t feel like booze at all. Dangerously easy to drink, you can be in falling down territory before you know it with this stuff!
Once the Shaky had taken the edge off my thirst, I gave the wine list a peruse.
It is a big old thing, with lots of interest to suit all pockets. I joked with my sister and brother in law as to whether we should order the Chateau Le Pin 2001 (I mean what is £4,500 between friends and family) or the Lafite 1989
but after I had picked them both up off the floor we went to the other end of the wine list.
Sense (and thickness of wallet) prevailed and we went for the cheapest wine on the menu in the form of the Primeros Paso, Monastrell, 2019 (£28 – it retails at around a tenner) from Alicante.
Quite meaty, with plenty of rich dark fruit, this worked well with the beef. Very agreeably glugger, I thought.
I love the steaks and the burger at Hawksmoor and I can now add their Sunday dinner to that love list.
Cracking bit of beef, cooked on point, was just the ticket to finish off a rather fine weekend in London.
Would I go back? Definately – not come across anything I haven’t liked at Hawksmoor as yet.
Up the roastie game, plus maybe add a cauli. cheese to the mix, and it would be pretty much a perfect roast dinner for me.
We visited the Seven Dial branch.
Address: 11 Langley Street, London, WC2H 9 JG.