Restaurateurs Will Beckett and Huw Gott opened their first Hawksmoor in Spitalfields, London, in 2006.
Since then, the group has grown to encompass six branches in the city, including the Knightsbridge outpost reviewed here, and one in Manchester, Edinburgh and New York.
What to expect and where to sit
A stone’s throw from Harrods, Hawksmoor Knightsbridge is a sophisticated space, catering to the area’s chic clientele.
The decor screams old-fashioned gentleman’s club, with its dark wood-panelled walls and brown leather banquettes.
A scattering of mustard seats offers a pop of character, as well as a welcome contrast to the muted tones.
A table at one of those banquettes offers the best vantage point from which to take in the busy dining room if you’re with a small party.
The larger tables in the corners, with bench-style seats, are a good choice if you need more space.
Staff are friendly, chatty and happy to recommend favourites, and they know the menu well. They’re also there just when you need them to be, but never interrupt.
Food is what sets the Knightsbridge branch apart. It caters to those with a taste for the finer things in life, with oysters being top of the list.
If you’re the kind known to dive straight into these at a UAE brunch, you’ll be in your element.
They’re cooked naturally, fried with devilled tartare or made Vietnamese-style, inspired by Beckett and Gott’s travels through Asia.
Seafood is the most impressive on the list of starters. You’re taken on a taste tour of the UK, with such standouts as a half Dartmouth lobster, Shetland mussels and Devon crab on toast.
My dining companion and I opt for the charcoal-roasted scallops and Dartmouth lobster to start.
The scallops are served on large shells, taking top marks for presentation and taste They are tender, sweet and garlicky, and a faultless beginning to our meal.
The lobster is enough to share between two, but the delicately flavoured, lightly textured meat is so moreish, a portion for one might be the way to go.
For sides we share the mac and cheese — a hit with its wonderfully crisp top, sharp taste and gooey texture — triple-cooked chips, mash and gravy, and a wholly appreciated, staff-recommended spinach with lemon and garlic. A light and refreshing accompaniment, it complements the flavours in the meat beautifully.
The main event is a carnivore’s dream. All of the cuts are present and correct, including a tomahawk if you want something really impressive on your table.
We opt for the porterhouse, chateaubriand and rib-eye steaks, and they do not disappoint. The porterhouse is a hit, the sirloin side cooked to a butter-like softness without the fillet portion suffering as a result. It’s deftly prepared and truly impressive.
Opting for a medium rare on the characteristically flavoursome rib-eye is our only mistake.
Cooked to at least medium would be best, and staff will advise you of a longer cooking time on this piece to break down the fat and release the flavour. The chateaubriand, though, is outstanding.
For dessert, staff recommend the quintessentially British rolos, with their delightfully chewy salted-caramel centres.
We also can’t resist the sticky toffee pudding, with its wickedly sweet treacle and thick, clotted cream; and the summer fruits crumble, which takes the edge off the sugar rush.
It’s a wonderful end to a real treat of a meal.
The chateaubriand cooked to medium is a clear winner. Our knife glides through it to reveal a perfectly blushed centre.
The meat is tender and tasty, despite the fillet steak’s reputation for rarely packing a flavourful punch. It’s seasoned lightly and pairs beautifully with the smooth peppercorn sauce — with the Bearnaise it’s all a bit too rich.
We could order this cut until the proverbial cows come home at Hawksmoor, but we’d also go back to try the rib-eye, cooked a little longer next time.
A chat with the chef
Peter Woods is the Hawksmoor Group’s development chef. He began his career at 16, at The Savoy.
He has worked with some of the best chefs in the industry, including Marco Pierre White and Tom Aitkin, and has led kitchens of hotels and members’ clubs in London, including The Corinthia and The Hurlingham Club.
Woods has been with Hawksmoor for just over a year, first cooking at the Spitalfields restaurant and now overseeing the development of the menus and staff training. His cooking style, he says, is traditional French.
“I like to bring these classic techniques into all parts of our menus, as well as into the training we do with younger team members in the kitchens.”
Despite the delectable steaks coming out of the kitchen, Woods says his favourite ingredient to cook with is fish, perhaps not surprising when looking at the Knightsbridge branch’s menu.
“England’s south coast has such excellent fish and seafood, and I’m very passionate about it. At Hawksmoor, we work directly with fishermen to bring some of the best-quality fish and seafood to the plate.
“My favourite fish is monkfish. It’s a meaty, fleshy fish that holds up well to grilling, and we serve it simply grilled over charcoal.”
His favourite cut of meat is the prime rib. “It’s an opulent piece that sings at you,” Woods says.
And for dessert, his choice every time is the sticky toffee pudding. “It’s just stunning and it doesn’t matter how much you’ve eaten; you can always enjoy a spoonful of it at the end.”
Price point and contact information
Starters range from £9 ($10.45) to £18 and mains go for £18 to £39. Steaks are priced from £8 for 100g and sides from £4.50. Desserts will set you back from £8.50.
Hawksmoor Knightsbridge at 3 Yeoman’s Row, London, is open from 5pm to 9pm from Monday to Wednesday; 5pm-9.30pm on Thursday; 5pm-10pm on Friday; noon-3.30pm, then 4.30pm-10pm on Saturday; and 11.30am-8.30pm on Sunday. For reservations, call 0044 20 7590 9290 or visit www.thehawksmoor.com.
This review was conducted at the invitation of the restaurant