Trudging up the stairs from Air Street, feeling a little delicate (as might be considered traditional on a Sunday), calls to mind the proverb “you cannot take hawks without climbing cliffs”. Happily this hawk is unlikely to fly away, as in the short time the Hawksmoor have occupied this first-floor sweeping curve of Regent Street, it is clear that they have become firmly established. Much fȇted as Hawksmoor’s first, and very successful, venture into seafood, that aspect will have to wait for another visit, because Sundays are for one thing – roast lunch, and it is on the chain’s reputation for great steak that we are staking our satisfaction.
Air Street seems a little dark, and I will admit to gulping slightly as we headed into what could have turned out to be a dark and small restaurant. My fears, however, were quickly allayed as we emerged into the bar and restaurant above, faced with an acre of parquet floor and a very cool art deco interior that seems to stretch off as far as the eye can see. We are seated promptly and waited on attentively throughout, though our initial order for a couple of head-clearing cokes is misinterpreted as two Full-fat Old Fashioned cocktails, an Air Street creation that puts me in danger of falling back into the night before, but that is smooth and buttery. Perhaps, had we known what we had inadvertently let ourselves in for, we would have gone for something from the “Anti-Fogmatics” hangover cure section of the extensive and original cocktail list.
While the selection of starters on offer was appetising – think every variety of west-country seafood and little meaty delights – there was to be no hanging about – and no need to try to decide what variety of roast this week – only beef is on the menu, and only beef needs to be. After a brief wait we are presented with two enormous slabs of meat, rare and succulent, atop a mountain of deliciously fluffy roast potatoes, the most enormous Yorkshire pudding, deliciously fresh greens and carrots that have been well seasoned, and a small lake of bone marrow and onion gravy. Eyes wide, we tuck in, and both GG and I are immensely satisfied – great quality beef and just as much care and attention has been paid to the accompaniments. A glass of full, fruity Bordeaux (Château de Ricaud, 2009), from a long wine list that starts below £20, is a nice fit, and we find ourselves unable to move for the next while.
However, “unable to move” pales when faced with a good-looking pudding menu, and Hawksmoor certainly did that. My Chocolate and Salted Caramel Cup (which came with an extra feel-good charity donation – how my bank manager laughed) was immensely rich, weighing me down even more, but very delicious, soft and creamy, with an almost bitter caramel layer on top. Yum. It pains me to say, though, that GG probably made the better pudding choice – Lemon Meringue Pie, a Prep School favourite which can also, it seems, be grown up. This one certainly was – less luminous than institutionalised versions, nicely tart, with light and slightly moist meringue – and light enough to permit walking away from the table unaided. Great.
So after a slightly disappointing first stab at trying to find London’s best roast lunch (see The Garden Gate, March 2013) this week is much more satisfying, with very little I can say about it – if you don’t mind paying just a little bit more (Roasts come in at £20 a head and drinking pushes up the bill significantly) – then delicious meat, great care and attention in a very classy central London joint should suit the most discerning of Sunday lunchers. We’ll certainly be back and will have to get involved in the seafood as well.
Hawksmoor, 5A Air Street, London, W1J 0AD. 0207 406 3980.