Restaurant review

Restaurant review: Hawksmoor, a London steakhouse in Gramercy Park


For almost two years, traveling to enjoy delicious meals in other countries has been discouraged or difficult, if not entirely impossible. Hawksmoor, a popular British group of nine London-based steakhouses, has finally done something about the situation. Since September, there has been a 10th Hawksmoor, on East 22nd Street, ready to serve Americans who follow the State Department Warning against travel to Great Britain.

I am very much in favor of international diplomacy, especially when it begins with a few cocktails. But if I was asked which of all the restaurants in other countries would be the best addition to New York’s dining scene, I’m not sure I would choose an English steakhouse, exactly.

When the first Hawksmoor opened in Shoreditch in London’s East End in 2006, critic Jay Rayner written in The Guardian that he had filled a long-standing void in Britain for “the kind of steak that is so readily available in the United States”.

I wondered if it was unfair when I saw the dining room. Former boardroom built in a grand and noble neoclassical style in the late 1800s to serve the welfare charities that were the building’s original tenants, it was given a slightly anglicized, clubby look with du parquet, charcoal. blue walls and emerald leather banquettes. It is unlike any other New York steakhouse.

And when I tried the steaks, I knew for sure that I was wrong. They arrive alarmingly naked, without even a sprig of parsley. Blackened and uneven, they look like they were accidentally left in the oven overnight. Cut them in, however, and the meat inside is a warm red and rich in iron.

The tenderloin, as big and oddly shaped as a fist, didn’t have that odd tuna sweetness that some would expect, but it was quite tender and, for once, it tasted overwhelmingly beefy.

The rump steak delivered everything you want from this cut, which is densely packaged flavor in return for a modest amount of chew and a relatively small amount of cash ($ 28 for 10 ounces, the cheapest steak in the house).

These two were ordered directly from the menu. One of Hawksmoor’s great attractions, however, is its custom of writing the names and weights of other larger cups available that day on chalkboards posted around the dining room. These range from gigantic rugby teammates, like a 54-ounce chop, to the huge death row inmates’ last meal, like a 38-ounce chateaubriand, to slices of meat that you could possibly eat by yourself- although you could take the next day to lie down very quietly on the sofa like a python.

Smaller steaks tend to get crossed off the board in the early evening. One night I sat down in time to get a bone-grilled 16-ounce sirloin. Under a last-minute sparkling application of Maldon’s salt, it was almost as tender as the tenderloin, and its flavor approached the harsh minerality of rump steak.

Not all of the steaks served by Hawksmoor are actually available at steakhouses in the United States. First of all, the restaurant grills with charcoal. This is what you might do in the backyard, but not what happens in most American steakhouse kitchens, where broilers are the norm. A minor note of smoke lingers in the dark outer crust. Grilled steaks, even fiercely charred, can taste antiseptic in comparison.

The main difference is in the meat itself, which the restaurant says comes from cattle fed exclusively on pasture and hay on small family farms. According to the Hawksmoor website, these animals lead “stress-free lives,” which is more than most of us can say these days. The full, straightforward flavor of Hawksmoor steaks is built into the meat, while much of the flavor and texture of typical steakhouse beef comes from the extra fat that the animals pack in during their final stages. grain-fed weeks.

Because even the most marbled grass-fed cuts of beef are relatively lean, you might want to pay five or six dollars more for a dish of gravy. The pepper sauce is oddly mild, but the anchovy hollandaise sauce is so good that I started looking for other things that could be dipped in it – the lean beef fat fries, the thick and crunchy cooked fries. three times in accordance with the teachings of Heston Blumenthal, gumball-sized carrots in mustard-cider icing, and finally a spoon. My fingers would have been next, but just then the table was cleared.

The accompaniments break with our local customs by allowing British ideas to infiltrate. A steak that isn’t grilled, tenderloin seared in cast iron, is served with a somewhat light version of the savory Scottish oatmeal known as skirlie. Two thin, hollow Yorkshire puddings accompany a jar of steak and bacon rillettes.

None of the sides are as convincing as the steaks themselves and a few of the browner items, like the warm bone marrow and onion “sauce” served with the rillettes, seem to have lost their pep on the trip. transatlantic.

Seafood is more energetic: half a lobster or whole lobster roasted over charcoal with garlic butter; slices of raw rainbow trout in a peach sorbet color, in a ceviche-style vinaigrette; and, best of all, Massachusetts oysters with a Scottish Bonnet mignonette.

On the studious and oddly curated cocktail list, the so-called Hawksmoor Classics mingle with alcoholic and non-alcoholic tributes in New York City. The wine list has its own ideas of what to drink with beef beyond the stiff, smug cabernets that most New York City steakhouses still offer, though too few bottles are under $ 75.

The desserts, under the skillful hand of Carla Henriques, go far beyond the cliché. The chocolate and hazelnut cake that Alain Ducasse made for The Louis XV, in Monaco, receives an injection of peanut butter; I’m not sure it’s necessary, but it sure doesn’t hurt. Open up the spectacular meringue snowball enveloping the Meyer Lemon Meringue Bomb and you find a scoop of curd cream ice cream with a ripple of lemon cream. And, if you’re still not convinced you’ve left the land of cheesecake and schlag, the sticky toffee pudding should do the trick.

What the stars mean Due to the pandemic, restaurants are not receiving stars.

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