Review: Breakfast at Hawksmoor Guildhall, EC2V

Hawksmoor has come to the City. Mahogany panelling, copper lights and mammoth breakfasts, it evokes days of boozy lunches and more profligate corporate spending. Will it work?

Hawksmoor Guildhall

We don’t do breakfast in this country. Cornflakes slurped at the desk at five to nine and a slice of toast half-digested while running for the bus doesn’t count.

Across the channel they get croissants. Across the pond blueberry pancakes. In South India they eat idli sambar: delicate cakes of rice served with an array of pickles, coconut and sauces.

We’re lucky if our scrambled eggs aren’t dry.

Thank god then for the newly opened Hawksmoor Guildhall. If you’ve not dined at a Hawskmoor before then you really should. Unless you’re vegetarian, in which case you probably shouldn’t.  

Until Monday, the self-styled British steakhouse and cocktail bar had two restaurants, serving Longhorn cattle steaks from the award-winning Ginger Pig butchers.  

Opening a new restaurant – however successful the franchise – midst a recession is ambitious. Opening one with space to seat 210 people is madness

Now there’s a third one. And a third excuse to eat too much red meat. Oh, and this one’s open from 7am. So you can eat too much red meat far too early.

Located in the heart of the City, in a stunning hall that comfortably seats 160 people, my guest and I arrived promptly at 7.30am. The place was empty save two ladies on reception, a very glamorous waitress, a charming waiter, two barmen – one of whom looked like a musketeer (in a good way) and a few other kitchen staff in the corner having breakfast.

The emptiness, accentuated by the staff-to-customers’ ratio, made the experience slightly awkward to begin with. There was some noisy building work going on next door too.

Opening a new restaurant – however successful the franchise – midst a recession is ambitious. Opening one in the City, with space to seat 210 people (including the bar) is, well, madness unless you’ve got a seriously compelling menu.

Which they have. My breakfast partner and I ordered the Hawksmoor breakfast for two to share.

Breakfast at Hawksmoor Guildhall

Smoked bacon chop, sausages (made with pork, beef and mutton), black pudding, short-rib bubble and squeak, grilled bone marrow, trotter baked beans, fried eggs, grilled mushrooms, roast tomatoes, unlimited toast and HP Gravy.

Baked beans taste better when they’ve been trotterfied, and the bits of beef hidden in the bubble and squeak were wonderfully sinful

The black pudding was the best I’ve ever tasted. Soft, melt in the mouth juicy and perfectly spiced. The bastardisation of the vegetables was brilliantly done. Baked beans taste better when they’ve been trotterfied and the bits of beef hidden in the bubble and squeak were wonderfully sinful.

The sausages were a bit much though. Neither of us managed them. The grilled bone marrow was also too much. I love bone marrow, absolutely love it, but this was so thick and so fatty it almost turned my stomach.  

Four people could have shared the breakfast easily. The waste (and our waistlines) was a little uncomfortable to be honest. The waiter told us that he’s yet to see anybody finish the marathon meal – the restaurant has been open to selected diners for two weeks – and was impressed by our efforts. He offered us a doggy bag too, which was nice.

Unfortunately, I doubt many people will take up the doggy bag offer, and the excess of the breakfast did feel a little bit like we’d jumped back 15 years – which I suppose is the whole point. By the time we’d left (8.30am) just two more tables had arrived, but then this is early days and it was a miserable wet morning.

Stepping out into the drizzle was grim, and I instantly wanted to step back into the Hawksmoor timewarp and try their Bloody Mary.

Next time.

Social Bookmarks