Saturday 10 August 2013

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar, A Special Place

When you go out not intending to eat, let alone drink double shots of mezcal, but leave somewhere feeling full, smiling, you know the place you've been was special. And, so it was, last Thursday I was going for two beers, then home to enjoy the treats my lovely neighbours had given me to celebrate the end of Ramadan. So, two turned into three, it always does. Then of course we had to finish the round. The Italian suggested a cocktail at Hawksmoor's bar, underneath their Spitalfields restaurant. Okay, just one more then...

Who was I kidding? Walk into a Hawksmoor and not eat? That was never ever going to happen. One step into the achingly cool bar (the de rigeur metro tiles have even been aged!), I knew my Ramadan feast was going to have to wait for another night.

So let's get one thing straight, there are no steaks - if that's what you're after, go upstairs. But there are ox cheek nuggets (I was sold!), burgers, pulled pork rolls, chili dogs, wings and ribs - need I say more.

We opted for a burger, pulled pork roll, ox cheek nuggets and pig's head poutine. And a cucumber and watermelon salad also turned up - we weren't complaining, respite for the arteries.

As you would expect, the burger is good. Very good. Rich, juicy beef, perfectly cooked medium-rare, topped with cheese in a beautifully soft brioche bun. Best of all, it is only £8.50. That is the same price as GBK. One can only imagine GBK's margins are significantly larger. Seriously, £8.50? It is an absolute steal! The Italian had the pulled pork which went down a treat.

The sides are where things started to get really exciting. I had no idea what poutine was when I ordered it, I was lured in by the pig's head. Turns out it is a perfect dish for two Scots to devour following a night on the beers. Originating in Canada, it is made up of chips, cheese (yes, okay, not the holy trinity of mozzarella and two types of cheddar you get at BBQ Kings in Glasgow, but good nonetheless) and gravy. Not content with that, Hawksmoor have added pig's head. Filthy, yes. Healthy, no. Worth it once in a while, absolutely.

We also had the ox cheek nuggets - slow-cooked cheek, encased with some mozzarella in breadcrumbs, with some kimchi dipping sauce. I could have eaten these all night long.

And, to freshen things up, a salad of large chunks of cucumber and watermelon, with a touch of ginger, chili, garlic and, I think, some fish sauce - this was a refreshing counterbalance to the rest of the meal. Excellent in its simplicity.

So the bar is cool and the food is great, but it is the drinks, or, more specifically, the barmen, who really make this place really stand out. Excellent cocktails (butter infused bourbon old fashioned anyone?) served up by a tag team from Turkey (Mr Pinky, you know who you are!) and Wales - we were kept in stitches for most of the night. If you like fun, go. If you don't, well, that's your loss, this place isn't for you.

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar on Urbanspoon

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