A Floating Ship of Heavenly Meat
The end of Netflix serial killer marathons, homemade banana bread and frenzied, doorstep saucepan-banging was heralded by the opening of The Hawksmoor’s latest incarnation, in Wood Wharf.
Canary Wharf - once a soulless, weekend ghost town where even tumbleweed dared not blow - has had a foodie transformation, with new restaurants including Caravan, Six by Nico and Hawksmoor opening its biggest and most flashy steak restaurant yet. And its success is a beacon of hope to the flagging, post-pandemic hospitality world.
This three-floored, eco-friendly, floating ship of heavenly meat and happy bankers is moored in Wood Wharf, with lights which twinkle on the water through beautiful, Art Deco curves, lots of glass and two riverside terraces - it's the first of its stable to offer outdoor dining.
Inside, we are met by Hawksmoor's comfortingly familiar interior - Mad Men-esque moody lighting, deep, cow-blood banquettes, emerald leather, parquet floors, marble tops and vintage gold furnishings. And despite the vast scale of this version, they have kept the intimacy and cosy ambience with inviting, velvet booths in The Low Deck and glass booth dividers and wood panelling in the main dining rooms.
When we ordered, they'd run out of the chateaubriand and (bizarrely) the bread. But this didn’t matter. We started with the rich and delicate Jersey rock oysters, roasted in umami-packed bone marrow, topped with crunchy breadcrumbs and served in the shells. This is the type of dish you eat in silence, broken by barely-contained moans of pleasure.
We shared the Porterhouse - combining the juicy and flavoursome rib-eye with the sweet tenderness of the fillet, served on the bone - where the meat is the most delicious. It was medium-rare, Turkish Delight pink and melted in the mouth in the sweet, salty and meaty haze of glory that Hawksmoor have perfected.
We ordered it with the frothy and warm bearnaise and their deep and rich bone marrow gravy. Mac and Cheese is a devastating, bland and milky disappointment almost everywhere but here, where you enjoy the satisfying pop through its crunchy, cheese roof to the pasta, which is silky, gooey and packed with flavour.
The beef dripping fries were a delight of soft, creamy innards and meaty crunch. Obviously we ordered the turbo-charged, creamed spinach, which has something of a cult following, thanks to the delicious combo of cayenne, anchovies, garlic and naturally, udders-worth of double cream.
There are some reasonably priced and good wines on the list. We had the Botijo Rojo, a pure Garnacha red wine, with a strong, cherry kick, which married beautifully with the meat.
Happily bulging with aged swine and wine, we swerved the desserts. But there is always room for their famous ‘Rolos’ - thick, glossy chocolate which cracks into its salted caramel filling. They are also available to take away.
The bill here always makes you wince, but with a giant smile - like a bad Robert De Niro impression. It’s expensive - perhaps not for the bankers in this particular Hawksmoor - but worth saving up for occasions which will feel very special, no matter what they are.
The Hawksmoor Wood Wharf, 1 Water Street, London E14 5GX