So after much nail-biting and anxious email-checking, our booking for the Hawksmoor Guildhall ‘soft launch’ came good. Calling to confirm the booking was slightly surreal, however.
Brekmeister: I’d just like to confirm our booking for Wednesday
Hawksmoor: That’s for a table of eight at 8am? Yep, all good. Would you be wanting the full beef tasting menu, at £700 for your group?
Brekmeister: Uhhhhhhh … [trying not to appear unsophisticated and ignorant] … we are still talking about breakfast, right?
Having established, much to the benefit of my heart rate, my bank balance and my arteries, that it was permissible for us to order from the standard breakfast menu the excitement truly began.
The first thing to say about the Hawksmoor Guildhall is that you have to keep your eyes open not to miss the rather unassuming entrance. Very smart, very professional – and very understated. Booking details checked, we were whisked down to the tables. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a restaurant so newly opened, and perhaps they all carry the delicate scent of fresh new leather, but it does seem particularly apt for a steak restaurant. The interior was a vast and gleaming array of tables, through which we were led to a largish snug at the end of the room.
Service was friendly and knowledgeable, and within short order we were sat awaiting a promising array of breakfast delicacies, including Full English, devilled kidneys, bacon sandwich, smoked salmon with scrambled eggs – and, the piece de resistance, the infamous Hawksmoor breakfast for two.
Where to start? The coffee. Not perhaps the most intuitive element to assess first, but it was first to arrive – and on that basis, it would seem that Hawksmoor have the art of first impressions near to perfected. Quite simply, I challenge you to find a better coffee to start your day with in central London.
Both the devilled kidneys and the smoked salmon and scramble were pronounced excellent by the partakers thereof. However I think it is only fair to devote the rest of our attention here to the superlative ‘Hawksmoor breakfast’. This is, without a doubt, the most impressive breakfast spectacle that I have seen since beginning my Grand Tour of breakfasts in the capital.
Arriving in its black iron oven pan, it looks an ample serving but no more. However, much like the entrance to the Hawksmoor itself, it quickly reveals hidden depths.
Two perfectly fried eggs were delivered to our plates separately moments after, and we quickly supplemented these with helpings from the platter above. Finally, once sausage, black pudding, bubble and squeak, trotter baked beans, bacon chop, mushrooms, and fried tomatoes have made their way onto the plate it looks a little like this …
Oh yes, did I forget to mention the grilled bone marrow? Yep, that would be that massive joint across the top there. Mmmmm. “Trotter beans?” I hear you ask. Pretty much exactly what they say, it turns out – baked beans with pig’s trotter. Well I have never been a baked bean fan and tend to skip them in my breakfasts, but that just had to be tried. And let it be recorded that it was good.
And that was the worst part of it. The bubble and squeak is like no other that you’ve tasted, and there’s no point my trying to tell you why – you will just have to taste it and find out. The mushrooms were deliciously juicy and bursting with the flavour – I think they must have been cooked in some of the fats from the meats in the dish. The hunk of black pudding was big enough that it could have been used to sink the Bismark – yet was moist and more-ish. The bacon chop was outstanding, salty and with a fresh clean taste as if that of a pig that has been bathed twice a day all its life. To round it all off, there was a jug of Hawksmoor’s special gravy – once again, not something I normally bother with. But you would be an absolute fool not to lap up the last drop of this stuff. And did I mention that the eggs were perfect?
The only oversight was that there seemed to be no sign of the promised “unlimited dripping toast”. In normal circumstances, this would have been quite a disappointment – but by the time I had got round the rest of the plate, it was actually quite a relief. Even without finishing the last of the beans, it was abundantly clear that there was no chance that any more food was going to be necessary or indeed possible until dinner time.
All this, of course, does come at a cost. With our dishes ranging from £7 for the bacon sandwich to £35 for the Hawksmoor breakfast (for two), plus drinks and service on top it’s not a cheap eat by any stretch – we were heartily glad of the soft launch 50% off offer. But if you’re looking for quality, it’s here in spadefuls.
Come with an empty stomach and a full wallet, and leave the other way around – just be prepared for a healthy snooze under the desk if you’ve opted for the Hawksmoor breakfast. You won’t regret it though.