Triple Cooked Chips on the Side?
8th March 2012
Groaning in the underbelly of Spitalfields, are the new tables laiden with bar-snacks in Hawksmoor’s ‘bar downstairs’. I say groaning, because the amount we ordered on a ‘soft-launch’ night (where the food was 50% off), pretty much overtook the table. In fact, a trolley or secondary table may have come in use.
Our Waiter for the night was James, a consummate professional, who was knowledgeable, courteous, attentive and cute as a button (a rarity in London). My guest had a theatre booking, so we warned him we were on a mission to have ‘food’, ‘sides’ and ‘pudding’ as per the menu in 2 hours, he didn’t fail to deliver on that.
The decor is cosy, a kind of mish-mash of speakeasy meets a Jacques Cousteau submarine, with leather banquette booths and metallic walls.
I wasn’t keen on the seating options, for smaller groups – high bar tables with bar-stools, not necessarily the easiest for dining (even if bar snacks), but fine for drinking.
Cocktails were first on order and two classics to start the night with a bang. I opted for:
(a fiery blend of Gin, Ginger and London Pride) and my guest had a
(alas, she was disappointed by the lack of a salt rim, but a good execution all the same).
A new and very welcome addition to menu came in the form of the Short rib French dip, soft brioche sandwiching cheese, short ribs and then dunked in a rich gloopy beef and onion flavoured gravy… Delicious.
I can’t compare this roll to Burger & Lobster’s, at same priced £20 offering, as I haven’t been yet. I’m not sure I’d like B&L’s as their dip is coriander based (one of my pet hates). So for now, I’m more than content with this billowy brioche roll, with great chunks of lobster and a delicious drawn butter dip. I have to say that we were given very generous gravy boats full of dips, I could have set up an IV tube for an infusion of them both.
“Chips, Glorious Chips”… usually the case, but not in this case. They were crisp but not really soft inside, they were a little dehydrated if anything, something had gone awry from the blanching to refrying stage. I’m not sure what had been used for frying (oil, dripping or fat), but the best I’ve had still remains as The Young Turks’ in beef dripping (even better than Heston’s).
One stand out ‘food’ item ordered was the Tamworth Laab.
I haven’t had this dish since visiting Laos a few years ago, so a welcome trip down memory lane. It consists of spiced minced pork, dressed with fish sauce, fresh herbs and served in fresh gem type lettuce leaves. You scoop the pork into the leaves, a little like tacos. These had a little zing, but were refreshing, perhaps a virtuous change from the other calorific options.
Onto the main business of desserts (for me). To be honest I could have opted for everything, quite easily, but as I was on a budget and time constraint, we opted for the above and a Chocolate Malt Tart.
Surprisingly the Tart was the lightest of the two, with a delicious mousse, but the pastry required a sledgehammer.
The shortbread was the opposite, too ‘short’ a mix too flaky. The combination of the salted caramel, peanut butter and surprise chocolate centre were divine on paper, but none of the flavours seemed to sing through. Even so, as a desserts fiend, I scoffed the lot and ended my meal with a contented tummy.
I didn’t try the burgers, as I knew from other diners that the ‘Umami’ burger wasn’t available (which would have been my pick). I was discouraged from ordering burgers by other bloggers, as knew that rare/medium rare isn’t an option, they have to comply with H&S regs and serve up medium to well done.
There are so many tempting treats on the bar menu, to draw you in. If anything I’m yearning already to go back and taste the short rib nuggets (with a kimchee ketchup), Sausage & Egg HkMuffin (a take on McDonalds’ dirty brekkie), the Chicken burger (another newbie), washed down with a cornflake milkshake… oh oh, cardiac arrest on a plate!
I’ve cheekily used photos from Hawksmoor’s website, as it is so dim in the bar, my photo’s were somewhat flawed, so ‘Thanks’ for the lovely shotsHawksmoor Spitalfields: 157 Commercial Street, London, E1 6BJ Telephone No: 020 7426 4856
Reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://thehawksmoor.com/spitalfieldsbar