I highly doubt this post will surprise you. So Hawksmoor* just won the Observer Food Monthly’s Best Sunday Lunch 2010 award. I went to try it. It’s the best Sunday lunch I’ve ever had.
There’s no way to angle this, nothing up for dispute or discussion – Hawksmoor is in a league of its own. It tops the £31.75 gastropub leaderboard by some distance. Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green? You just got relegated. There’s a catch though. The cost per head was £47.75, which means this place laughs in the face of my original criteria. I’m going to tell you about it anyway.
There were two of us and the meat alone (from Yorkshire suppliers The Ginger Pig) cost £54. But this was no ordinary meat. A great hulking T-bone of coral pink cooked (as with all their steaks) over a charcoal grill before being finished in the oven and thickly sliced on both sides for umpteen pieces of both tenderloin and fillet. We went for 900g of the Porterhouse cut at £6 per 100g on our waitresses’ recommendation (she actually bigged up the Chateaubriand but I draw the line at paying £12 for 100g) and I could talk all day about how flavourful, well-cooked and utterly addictive it was. The owners have travelled the world tasting Japanese Wagyu, Argentinia’s offerings and USDA prime and decided British is best. They may well be right.
And it didn’t stop there. The trimmings came in at a relatively reasonable £7 a head and involved the best-skinned duck fat roasties I’ve ever come across (craggier than Gordon Ramsey’s chin), a bone marrow and onion gravy (in its own jug) that was basically rich French onion soup masquerading as a sauce, buttered carrots and green leaves the size of our plates, whole roast onions that splattered white pulp upon puncture and Yorkshire puffs verging on the sensual. Bloody Marys felt like a boring choice beside the endless unusual fizzes, julips and anti-fogmatics but were fresh and livelier than Bristol city centre on a Saturday night, a bit too horseradishy but nothing the seven inch cucumber stirrer couldn’t sort out.
Our server was a gourmet genie, appearing at all the right moments with food and advice, like a non-mumsy mum making sure we were fed and watered, while the catalogue model in chunky knit by the cloakroom overheard us looking for a shop and googled the results while we ate. They were irrepressibly friendly for a high-end place in a highly ‘hip’ part of town, and weren’t even fazed when we knocked an ice bucket full of water over on the way out. I looked high and low but there wasn’t a fault to be found.
For anyone presuming to serve Sunday lunch in London, consider this the benchmark to end them all.
Soundtrack: No idea, I slipped into a blissful food coma pretty quick.
Clientele: Edith Bowman and her iPad-addicted son next to us. Everyone else seemed to be friends of the owners.