hawksmoor seven dials
The original Hawksmoor has more than its fair share of fans, hence it comes as no surprise that a table during the soft launch of their handsome new Seven Dials branch in Covent Garden was hard to come by. I was thrilled when I was given a Saturday lunch table, but then had to endure a full five days of tweets from smug diners who managed to secure a booking before me. The silver lining was that it was via these tweets that I learnt of the Kimchi Burgers on the bar menu; proclaimed to be “more addictive than a Crack Cocaine and MSG Burger” by co-owner Will. Having experienced the burger myself, I would have to concur – I polished one off less than 24 hours ago, and already I’m craving another. Future visitors, you have been warned.
We arrived at the impressive double doors of its entrance on Langley Street (just past Pineapple Studios) at 130pm on the dot, starving and a little distressed from dodging the masses crowded around Covent Garden tube. Upon stepping into the gorgeously reburbished former brewery we were able to relax though, taking in the beautifully restored floorboards and antique fixtures and fittings that are full of character. The place felt comfortably worn-in yet new and modern at the same time – no mean feat.
My heart was set on the Lobster Roll and above mentioned burger so I enquired with the waitress on whether the bar menu was available. She relayed my request to Will who quickly dashed to the kitchen, had a quick word with the chef and it was all set. That sorted, we ordered cocktails (a Shaky Dave’s Ginger Brew for B, and a Fancy Gin for me) and perused the menu for our starters. In actual fact, I already knew what I wanted for those too – Tamworth Belly Ribs and a dozen Oysters, with Sausages. The briny oysters were sweet and creamy, and the glistening sausages were superb. I’ve no idea why oysters are frequently served with sausages, but I applaud the tradition. In fact more things should be served with porky treats on the side.
Speaking of porky treats, the Tamworth Belly Ribs were outstanding. The meaty slabs had a good amount of fat running through them, lending both flavour and moisture, and were incredibly succulent and tasty. So finger-lickin’ good that B was already making plans in his head to return for a proper meat fest with his mates.
Between courses we slotted in a couple more cocktails – a Champagne Charlie (gin, lemon juice, seasonal fruit syrup & champagne) and a Johnny-from-London (gin, kirsch, lemon sherbet, bitters & bouteille call). Both slid down our throats so fast we got another drink order in before the Roll and Burger arrived. The Lobster Roll wasn’t the mayo-laced variant I had in mind, but delicious nevertheless – tender meat of a whole grilled lobster, tossed in a garlic and hazelnut butter then piled on a sweet, soft bun and served with a rich béarnaise sauce. It is the result of countless permutations, and based on ones served at a tiny lobster shack in Maine.
The star of the show however, was hands-down the Kimchi Burger. The juicy pink patty blanketed in mature cheddar was cooked a perfect medium, had an intense beefy taste and a nice amount of char. The mildly spicy kimchi (cabbage fermented in-house for a week) was an inspired partner for the meat, adding depth and an extra savoury note.
A single lettuce leaf provided a touch of freshness and the light spongey sesame bun held everything snuggly together. The side of chunky Beef Dripping Chips, served with homemade tomato ketchup, made a worthy accompaniment.
Bursting at the seams, B declined dessert but changed his mind last minute when I placed my order for a Chocolate Pudding and asked for the Custard Tart. The pudding, served with pouring cream, was an ultra decadent warm dark chocolate fondant with a luscious molten centre. B’s Custard Tart was just as lovely, with a thin buttery crust and quivering eggy filling.
With it being the second last day of the soft launch, the restaurant has clearly already hit its stride – things were running incredibly smoothly and everyone working there, Will and Shaky Pete (the bar maestro) included, were friendly, laid-back and attentive. When we merrily rolled out at 4pm the place was still half-full and buzzing, as if they had been operating for years, rather than a mere five days.
I’m so pleased Hawksmoor has made it to the west and plan to hopefully return soon for a steak and lobster dinner. Well, that is if I can resist THAT burger.
Hawksmoor Seven Dials
11 Langley Street
London WC2H 9JG
t. 020 7856 2154