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16 Winchester Walk
The Dickensian lanes around foodie mecca Borough Market make an apt setting for the sixth London Hawksmoor, the chain which offers a contemporary take on the traditional British steakhouse. The leather-chaired, 160-cover dining room is on the first floor of a converted Victorian warehouse, all brick walls and big windows. Hawksmoor’s delicious-sounding menu classics are all here, while trying to choose is even tougher thanks to the Borough Market specials menu (ox-cheek cottage pie, for example). Starters from the main menu include a pair of hefty Old Spot belly ribs, deliriously sticky, or Yorkshire puddings that act as edible bowls for potted beef dolloped into a pool of gravy. Perfectly cooked steaks are the main event, each charred and crusted without and ruby-red within. Fabulously good sides such as sticky gobbets of roasted marrow or soft chunks of maple bacon almost steal the show, the latter being so sweet that it shows up with doughnuts on the pudding menu. Staff could do with more training on the finer points of a Euro-focused wine list (with decent choice under £30), and we were sorry that on a busy Saturday night nearly all of the bar area was given over to diners. Nevertheless, this is another accomplished outfit from a fantastic group, proving British cooking is at its best when it’s done simply, with top-notch ingredients.
Best in London Bridge
SquareMeal 2 Stars
16 Winchester Walk
London Bridge Tube Station 389m
Cannon Street Station 464m
Borough Market 57m
Mon-Fri 12N-2.30pm 5-10.30pm Sat-Sun 12N-10.30pm (Sun -9pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
I came away from my meal here wondering what was the real difference between Hawksmoor and the once ubiquitous Berni Inn and similar chains that dominated UK eating-out in the 1960's . Atmosphere? Well no, Hawksmoor looks a similar standard of place if rather less "red". Food quality? I'd hoped so, but the rump steak I ate yesterday wasn't a great piece of meat and I think some would say that it was a little away from an accurate "medium rare". Sophistication? Well its another "no". It certainly doesn't look or behave better than some of the chains like Cote for example, and our starters yesterday of potted beef , bacon gravy and massive Yorkshires , and a mackerel terrine , were both rustic and large rather than smart or particularly interesting. My wife's chicken was huge and very ordinary. We left full, but delight was harder to get. Certainly Hawksmoor is nothing like the sort of steakhouse you see in USA cities.
Got it. The difference is pricing/positioning. Berni Inns was a place that the not so well-off would see as a special occasion restaurant- and indeed I think a lot of those using it wouldn't eat out very much at all. Meanwhile a more affluent clientele would see it as a place to go whenever cooking at home was simply too much to contemplate. Berni's weren't great, but in the days when there wasn't a lot of competition for casual eateries better than a caff, they were pleasant, affordable, and decent. Our bill yesterday was just shy of £100 for two courses each, a pleasant bottle of Aglianico from the lower reaches of the wine list, and coffee. The starters & mains we chose were amongst the cheapest available. It would have been very easy to make that £150 . Unlike the "steakhouses" of old you pay for potatoes and any veg you deem necessary. Quantities for these sides aren't great and neither are they cheap. They don't bring bread.
So here's the thing. In my view Hawksmoor's a bit expensive for the food and quality on offer. Certainly much too expensive for most to consider it a place to substitute for home cooking. And not really good enough for special occasions. The ground it occupies price-wise brings it lots of competition and some places that cook very well. It seemed that a lot of yesterday's clientele were tourists , and I do wonder whether Hawksmoor is set up to attract repeat business, and instead relies on location and an easy to understand menu to attract custom. But I don't think we need a place like this in our repertoire, and to be honest its not really hard to find restaurants who cook a steak or chicken as well as we ate yesterday. It wasn't bad, certainly not unpleasant, but simply not notable for quality, interest, or value.
I will say that our service yesterday was pretty good- not intrusive but certainly friendly and decently brisk.
Food + drink: 5
I went to Hawksmoor Borough on New Years Eve. I have to say everything was impeccable. The staff were a delight, especially our waitress who's name I wish I knew but she was very tall and blonde. The food was exceptional, I had the ribs which were the most delicious combo of salty and sweet and it was steak all round for main. You would be silly to order anything else! My personal favourite side was definitely the parsnips, they were insanely good and very well caramelised. On another note - my mum said the ceaser salad was the best she has ever had!
If I didnt already mention it - what service! The waitress overheard that it was my fathers birthday - without us even mentioning a thing the most delicious ginger cocktails arrived to our table free of charge! Now that is what I call amazingly trained staff.
All in all a great experience and definitely worth the money.
Food + drink: 4
The wonderful thing about Hawksmoor is its consistency – you know you are going to get a damned fine piece of steak. Borough is the fourth of the eight-branch chain I have visited (after Air Street, Gulidhall and Seven Dials) and the standards set on previous visits were more than adequately maintained here. The Borough outlet was exceptionally accommodating, serving a group of sixteen of us over a recent lunch; and despite our multiple requests/ needs, everyone left happy. For those unfamiliar with the idea behind Hawksmoor, think quintessential British with a modern twist: wood panelling but natural light in the venue; a lot of meat, but also some pretty funky cocktails and an extensive wine list. The summer set menu of 2 courses for £25 or 3 for £28, (£30, if you want a cocktail thrown in), constitutes amazing value, and even eating the default house options suggested here provides a great insight into what makes Hawksmoor so good. The undoubted highlight for me from the set menu was the main course (chosen from a list of three) comprising 300g of 35-day old rump steak, a lump of meat that was about as tender and flavoursome as it might be possible to imagine. Combined with a macaroni cheese side – yes, it does work – and this is a form of culinary heaven (the impact to the waistline might, of course, be a different matter). We loved the wines too, which even at the lower-end of the list, delivered: a sparkling from Oregon, white from England and red from Austria. There were some small gripes: Hawksmoor missed a trick not suggesting some bread, olives or similar for the table when we arrived – an obvious up-sell given the size of the group and the time it took to order; and, vegetarians were poorly catered for (salad followed by salad on the set menu). These are easy fixes and should not diminish from what remains generally a great dining experience worth repeating.
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