A review of Hawksmoor Guildhall, EC2V
In the first of a series, we publish a number of the most popular articles from the blog that conceived The Steeple Times. Here, in a February 2012 piece, Matthew Steeples reviews a boozy breakfast at Hawksmoor Guildhall with Anthony Brown. After seeing an image of their breakfast on Facebook this morning, we were reminded just how good it truly is, so if you haven’t tried it already – you really should.
On arrival at the Hawksmoor Guildhall, in the heart of the City of London, I immediately found myself thinking about Edward Hopper’s iconic painting Nighthawks.
Here, in this vast space, which can seat 160 in the restaurant and 75 in the bar, was a venue that very much combines the feel of an old banking hall with something akin to a friendlier version of the American café diner in Hopper’s Nighthawks painting. Though, to my mind, the City is indeed a lonely place, the welcoming staff and the somewhat noisy suited brokers created an atmosphere that truly reflected the stature of this fine establishment.
My companion and I wrongly assumed that this relatively new restaurant had simply taken the space of something that had been there before. In fact, this was just a clever trick. The owners, Will Beckett and Huw Gott, collaborated with the Macaulay Sinclair design studio, who were also responsible for their Seven Dials site, to create a style that combines solid mahogany panels made out of Natural History Museum specimen cabinets, a bar formed out of the counter of a Dutch bank and teak flooring taken from the University of the Arts Building near Bond Street. The result is truly impressive.
We opted to share the Hawksmoor breakfast for two priced at £35. This superb offering was served in a large pan with a smoked bacon chop, the most phenomenal sausages made from pork, beef and mutton, black pudding, short-rib bubble and squeak, trotter baked beans, fried eggs, grilled mushrooms, roast tomatoes and HP gravy. Served with unlimited toast, not that it was actually required, this bargain of a meal was a breakfast fit for a king. After this, you really won’t need to eat again for several days.
Also on offer for breakfast, on a menu designed by the Hawksmoor’s executive chef, Richard Turner, are wild mushrooms on toast with poached eggs Hollandaise (£10), a 200g fillet steak with fried eggs and hash browns (£25) and a twist on McDonalds in the form of the sausage and egg HkMufin (£8.50). Scotch pancakes come available with streaky bacon and maple syrup (£6) or with roasted plums (£5).
Urged to try the breakfast cocktails, we sampled the Hawksmoor’s Marmalade Cocktail (£8) of gin, lemon juice, homemade orange bitters and a dash of Campari and another named Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew (£8.50) that consisted of gin, homemade ginger syrup and lemon juice topped with London Pride. The first was sharp and a perfect awakener and the second, described on the menu as “a turbo –shandy for the discerning drinker,” surprisingly worked utterly brilliant in terms of the ingredients it combined.
Open for breakfast from 7am and serving until 10.30pm at night, this is a restaurant of which the Metro’s Marina O’Loughlin rightly comments: “As Homer Simspon might say, mmmnmnhrhmm…”
Hawksmoor Guildhall, 10 Basinghall Street, London, EC2V 5BQ. Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7397 8120. Website: http://thehawksmoor.com/locations/guildhall
Follow Hawksmoor on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/HawksmoorLondon