I’ve got to come clean. I’ve been trying to find an excuse to go to Hawksmoor for ages, so when the chance arose to check out their express menu I pounced. The chain opened their first restaurant outside the capital last year and chose a old Victorian courthouse on Deansgate for the venture, it’s a beautiful setting. I had previously poked my head round the door and enjoyed a drink at the bar, but I’ve been waiting patiently for the opportunity to try some of that food.
The express menu gives the choice of three starters so we had only to decide which one we would leave and opted to miss out on the bone marrow and onions, looking for something a bit lighter in these last warm days of the year. Our salad was just that, fresh, juicy beetroot pepped up with a potent horseradish and crème fraiche dressing. Potted smoked mackerel with dill cucumber and toast offered similarly summery flavours, simple but effective. We were paired a glass of the fantastically crisp Tacchino Gavi di Gavi that worked perfectly with the oily richness of the fish and earthiness of the beetroot.
You don’t have to have steak at Hawksmoor of course, but there was no way either of us was going to miss out on a slab of beef, so we ordered the rump and the fillet with proper chips (of course) and greens. To accompany our meat the peppercorn and stilton sauces were both well received. It was all spot on and hard to pick faults with – tender, flavoursome beef cooked to order with sides and sauces as they should be. The Pulenta Estate Malbec stood up well those charred steaks perfectly as well with heavy, dark fruit, blackberry and plum notes.
Again, as with the starters, we had to choose which dessert to omit and decided against the strawberries, meringue and cream, instead picking rather less wholesome sounding peanut butter shortbread and sticky toffee pudding. The shortbread came with a salted caramel ice cream and I felt that the salty ice cream didn’t quite fit with the already slightly savoury, nutty dryness of the dish. Both components were nice but I’m not sure they quite worked together, to my mind a sweeter accompaniment would’ve been more suitable. Our other dish, the sticky toffee pudding, was well worth fighting over though. Topped with an oozing dollop of clotted cream, it was brilliantly indulgent yet still airy enough to savour after all that meat. A glass of the sweet, appley Late Harvest Tokaji was all we needed to complete a lovely lunch.
That is save for a couple of coffees, and the chance to enjoy the dining room for a few more moments. The food was all very nice and good value, you expect nothing less than a great steak from Hawksmoor, it is what they do best after all, but the restaurant is also just a really nice place to be. The leather bench seats, wooden panelling and those magnificent skylights, flooding the room with late summer sun, all combine to give the place a classically, traditional feel without being at all stuffy – as so many similarly decorated places can. Hawksmoor serve their express menu until 6pm and after 10pm Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday but don’t worry, there’s no rush, you can hang around awhile as you eat it.
184-186 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3WB
0161 836 6980