Yesterday we were in Manchester early for the match so decided to visit Hawksmoor.
I’d seen some fab pictures of food in the London restaurants on Instagram and was looking forward to what looked like an absolute meat treat.
The Manchester branch looks very swish from the outside, I think it is in an old bank. We were greeted at reception and asked if we had a table booked. We hadn’t. ‘No problem’ came the reply from the girl on reception who then proceeded to tap away on her computer. This place must be packed, I thought, if it’s taking this long to find us a table. She then showed us upstairs, through the bar and into the main dining area. No one at the bar or at the tables in the bar and only about 8 tables seated in the main restaurant. Although saying that, about five minutes later the greeter sat someone on the table slap-bang next to us even though there were plenty of other empty tables.
Drinks were ordered, I went for the Fitzpatricks Aviation cocktail while the Gin Whisperer went for a Plymouth and Slim. When they arrived my cocktail was delicious, if a little small. The Gin Whisperer was unimpressed that his Plymouth was served in a tall glass with a slice of lemon (Plymouth should come with lime) and the entire 200ml bottle of tonic had been poured in. Given the choice he would have preferred to put the tonic in himself, 200ml is too much for a single gin. Three slices of lime were quickly dispatched to our table though, great service. Tap water was constantly topped up.
Some steaks are priced per 100g, Chateaubriand, Porterhouse,T-bone and Bone-in prime rib, and there is a blackboard stating what weight of steaks are available. Other steaks ranged in price from £18.50 for 55 day aged D-rump to £34 for a 300g fillet. Instead of this we decided to go for the Express menu available 12-3pm and 5-6.30pm. Two courses for £24 or three for £27.
As a starter I had Bone Marrow and onions which was delicious and the Gin Whisperer went for the potted Mackerel which was also yummy but kept reminding him how it tasted for the rest of the day.
For mains we both went for Rump, the only steak on the express menu. We both asked for them rare and to be honest they were cooked to perfection. Really well rested, mine was a little on the tepid side though. It’s a good job the Express Menu includes a side each as all you get in the plate is your steak. And with being from the Express Menu it wasn’t a particularly large steak. Nice and thick, just not very big. Probably a little bigger than my fist.
As a side I had the triple cooked chips which were lovely and crispy and the Gin Whisperer went for the greens. He had bone marrow gravy and I had the Stilon hollandaise. Both were good. As was the homemade ketchup. His steak was lovely but when I turned mine over it was hiding a whole side of fat, not the nice juicy stuff, the horrible gristly leathery stuff that you simply cannot chew. Now, I don’t mind a fatty rump, I’ve been cultivating my own for a few years now, but this was awful and very well hidden by the kitchen.
For an extra £3 we decided to have a dessert, we had room given the size of the steaks. I had the honeycomb sundae and he had the sticky toffee pudding . Again both were nice, we saw the ‘Ambassador’s Reception’ passing and this looked amazing. A giant Ferrero Roche the size of a baseball on a plate!
Altogether we paid £75.40 for three courses, two sauces, one cocktail, one G&T and one glass of red (the cheapest at £6 a glass). If it hadn’t been for the express menu we would have probably paid well over £100, I’ve seen reviews where people have paid over £300 for two people. And this is where it gets confusing.
I am unsure what Hawksmoor is trying to be. Expensive steaks, cocktails and wine (ranging from £22 a bottle to an eye-watering £2,500) served on expensive plates, by friendly hipsters in ripped jeans, vests, checked shirts and scruffy trainers. Yes, the service was slick but just a little too familiar for my liking. The lady who brought the drink was lovely though! But not a proper gin glass in sight. I’ve seen people saying that these are London prices and not Manchester prices. I’ve lived in London and these are not the type of prices I recognise for what is really just glorified steak and chips! No atmosphere at all, no music and a mixed bunch of stuffy looking clientele, uncomfortable looking couples and pre-match football supporters. The decor in the main restaurant looked very cheaply done, wooden panelling painted dark green and the tables were too small. Once you had your giant plate of steak, sides, sauces and gravy, wine glasses, water glasses etc it was just too cramped. And an absolute treck downstairs to the cold toilets.
In my opinion there are much better places in Manchester, more innovative with warmer atmospheres and much less expensive price tags. But I’m sure there are enough Wags and footballers to keep this place going for a while due to its name alone. We will definitely given it a wide berth!