By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
With the first Hawksmoor restaurant having opened its doors in 2006, there are now six outposts scattered across the country (five in London, one in Manchester). Positioned just a short walk from Liverpool Street Station, the original opening in Spitalfields also boasts a separate basement bar that’s so strong it could stand alone without the help of the adjoining Steakhouse. Accessible via a door that’s hung just a few metres from the main entrance, as you head downstairs you’ll be blasted with hot air that spews from downstairs’ ventilation system, before entering the shadowy New York-style drinking spot.
Taking our seats in the corner, under the air-conditioning unit (it’s the best seat in the house), we’re soon provided with a menu and zealous bartender to talk us through the inventive drinks selections and their monthly changing menu of ‘Desert Island Drinks’. Throughout July the theme is American Independence Day, featuring a selection of Woodford Reserve Bourbon-based concoctions that boast tawdry labels such as ‘The Peach Boys’ and ‘Rousse Springsteen’ (both £8.50). The former arrives in a coupe that has a small cut-out of The Beach Boys’ ‘Surfin’ USA’ album cover pegged onto the side, featuring an enchanting blend of Woodford, Cocchi Rosa and Crème de Peche. The latter, on the other hand, is a Beer-based Cocktail of Woodford, Rousse Beer and Lapsang Syrup, also delicious as well as astoundingly refreshing.
Also across the menu, the team of talented bartenders offer their takes on classics such as the ‘Full-fat Old Fashioned’ (crafted with Butter-infused Bourbon), a rich ‘Nuclear Banana Daiquiri’, and a frozen ‘Green & Red Margarita’, which combines Tequila, Lime Juice, Lemon Juice, and Agave Syrup. Although concise, the Cocktail list is so strong that it could even rival the restaurant offerings upstairs. Although downstairs you’re unable to order one of Hawksmoor’s trademark Steaks, an extensive offering of Bar Snacks is available to complement the drinks, delivering a taste of what’s to be expected from the kitchen upstairs. XO Chicken Wings and the Bar’s take on Korean Baby Back Ribs will set you back just £5, while Tamworth Taco Nuggets (£7), Crispy Chilli Beef (£8) and a Doddington Caesar (£4) are also available as accompaniments. What’s more, alongside ‘Sandwiches’ such as Pulled Pork Buns (£7.50), a Cheeseburger (£8.50) and Chilli Cheese Dog (£10), there’s a round of Desserts – rather surprisingly – like Chocolate Tart, Peanut Butter Shortbread, and Sherry Trifle to complete an already enjoyable outing.
When visiting Hawksmoor, be sure to arrive early and take advantage of the unique Cocktail list, or leave enough space and time for a post-dinner drink. An after-work trip to the bar, alone, after a busy day in the city is also highly recommended.
Hawksmoor Spitalfields can be found at 157B Commerical Street, London, E1 6BJ.