Sunday, October 01, 2006



Know London for any length of time and you start to get past her obvious sanitised and preserved history, and the darker, stranger stories emerge. Stories of magic, sacrifice, numerology. Stories so wrapped in veils of half remembered secrets and the scorched imaginings of the generations of story tellers, that the truth is no longer important, just the retelling of the tales. The Whitechapel murders, Dr Jon Dee, the lay lines that intersect Canary Wharf, David Rodinsky, Francis Bacon, Aleister Crowley; all part of the endless parade of occult London.

Nicholas Hawksmoor, assistant to Christopher Wren and builder of some of the finest, most imposing and down right scary buildings occupies pride of place amongst them all in my estimation. So much has been written about the occult aspects of his life and buildings that just looking at the starkly elegant churches that he has left dotted through the capital you can almost feel the brooding secrets they might hold. Odd then that his name has been co-opted by the superb bar and American restaurant Hawksmoor on Commercial Street, which is neither brooding nor a secret since it came second in both bar and steak categories in the Time Out Eating and Drinking Awards.

The restaurant is a simple white space that you might miss if your shooting down Commercial Street in a taxi, a few tables, a bar and some sofas in a more moodily lit space at the back. To be honest, I had expected it to look plusher, a little more over designed, but they have kept the place uncluttered and leave the talking to the things they do well. They do two things here. Meat and Cocktails and they do them both really, really well.

The cocktail menu is a mixture of classics and invention. When they say classic, they mean classic citing the date of the recipe they are using and where the cocktail was first mixed. I had an Old Fashioned with a tobacco infusion, which had none of the harshness that can sometimes come when the barman screws up the mix of rye and orange. The tobacco added a subtle smoky quality. This was a bloke's drink, about as masculine as a cocktail can be.

The menu is satisfyingly short. About 6 or 7 starters and the mains consist of three steaks, a whole poussin, a pork chop, and a veggie option and that was pretty much it. This is American food made with the best British produce. All the meat is supplied by The Ginger Pig and it shows. The Tamworth ribs I had to start where a joy. Dry cooked, but subtly spiced and succulent, this coupled with some macaroni cheese would have had me convinced that the place was a gem. The bone in sirloin that I followed it up with was a bonus, and the triple cooked chips almost got lost in the simple bold and delicious flavours that Hawksmoor dishes out with a laid back aplomb. This is a keeper.

Hawksmoor: 157 Commercial Street, E1 6BJ Tel: 0207 247 7362

1 comment:

ems said...

You're quite right - I haven't noticed this place but it sounds great. Meat from the Ginger Pig is more than enough of a recommendation for me.