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PREVIEW: Charles Campion On Hawksmoor

The Masterchef panel expert and restaurant critic on what to expect from MCR's next major player

Written by . Published on February 12th 2015.

PREVIEW: Charles Campion On Hawksmoor

Confidential has a new recruit, former Times, Independent and London Evening Standard food critic, author and Masterchef panel expert, Charles Campion. Here he writes about Hawksmoor, the game-changing steakhouse to open its first non-London restaurant on Deansgate in March.

EVEN in the 1960s - the darkest days of British cuisine - you could still get a passable steak.

Before opening the first Hawksmoor Huw and Will went on a global steak pilgrimage and came to the conclusion that traditional British rare breed cattle produced the best steaks in the world. They could well be right.

Granted it was usually cut too thin and overcooked, but for years steak featured on everyone’s 'favourite meal wish list'. Whether you went to an Italian bistro or one of those tartan decorated steak houses, you could show your sophistication by ordering a prawn cocktail, followed by a rump steak and then a slice of Black Forest Gateau.

The last decade has seen British restaurants taking steak more seriously and scattered across London you’ll find French steaks, Danish steaks, Irish steaks, Argentine steaks, American steaks, Scottish steaks, even Waygu steaks from Japan. The simple steak has come of age.

Hugh Gott and Will Beckett are the founders of Hawksmoor, and the business is built on two selling points – great steaks and strong drinks. The restaurants may be named after Nicholas Hawksmoor (an architect who built many of London’s better baroque churches in the eighteenth century) but they are comfortably modern places and concentrate on doing a simple thing very well.

Hawksmoor ManchesterHawksmoor Manchester

Lovely little plumpersLovely little plumpers

Before Manchester, the latest link in the chain was the Hawksmoor on Yeoman’s Row, tucked behind Knightsbridge – this downstairs restaurant was formerly home to one of Marco Pierre White’s ventures, (he was working with Frankie Dettori, the jockey) now it is dark and clubby with plenty of art deco flourishes. There’s a large bar and a lengthy cocktail list which offers well made classic drinks priced around the £9 mark. Bolt down a couple of 'Fancy gin cocktails' by way of an aperitif.

Hawksmoor's menu is long and the list of steaks is balanced by a large seafood section. Three different caviars are featured (priced at up to £70 per 30g), all are from sturgeon farmed in Finland. There are some plump oysters and oyster dishes – the oysters dressed 'Vietnamese style' are surprisingly good – adding a zingy citrus top note to the molluscs (£8 for three).

A dish of wild sea bass, raw with chilli and ginger (£14.50) is another winner, a cousin of the oyster dressing, this ceviche has a delightful citrus/chilli punch. Under the heading starters you’ll find Tamworth belly ribs with vinegar slaw (£10.50); Hawksmoor smoked salmon (£11); and a couple of salads – the Doddington Caesar is very good, salty anchovies, Romaine lettuce leaves, good dressing (£7.50).

Hawksmoor 2015 %2815%29Hawksmoor Manchester

Steak-193Hawksmoor Porterhouse

There are fishy mains – including a 900g devilled lobster 'Singapore style' (£45), but you’re here for the steak. Chateaubriand, Porterhouse, T-bone and Bone-in prime rib are all priced by weight (anything up to £13 per 100g). Hawksmoor made its name by selling monster steaks to delighted City traders and if you decide to compete your wallet may weep. The saving grace is that the meat is excellent.

Before opening the first Hawksmoor Huw and Will went on a global steak pilgrimage and came to the conclusion that traditional British rare breed cattle produced the best steaks in the world. They could well be right. These steaks are top notch – there’s a fillet (300g £34), a ribeye (400g £30), and a D-Rump aged 55 days (350g £20). The rump is juicy, black outside and pink within. Add a side of Jansson’s temptation (£6) a creamy, savoury, potato treat and you’ll be in carnivore heaven.

The service is as slick as a cow lick.

The wine list has bottles that would make your credit card melt (Anyone for a bottle of Petrus ’82 - a snip at £6,200?). Thankfully there are enough options on the lower slopes of the wine list to keep you cheerful and at prices (bottles start at £27.50) that mean you won’t have to pawn a helicopter to pay the bill.

Manchester steak lovers take note, Hawksmoor may be the best you've ever had.

Hawksmoor will open in the Courthouse building at 184-186 Deansgate for the soft-launch from 19 Feb and fully from 5 March.



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18 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AVOFebruary 11th 2015.

The Hawksmoors down South source their meat from the Ginger Pig. Does anyone know whether they're going to do the same up here or use a Northern supplier?

1 Response: Reply To This...
David BlakeFebruary 11th 2015.

The Ginger Pig's farm is based in the North Yorkshire Moors - between Thirsk and Scarborough - so yes they'll continue to use a Northern supplier.

AnonymousFebruary 11th 2015.

Service is slick as a cow lick.....it's not even open yet!

1 Response: Reply To This...
GordoFebruary 11th 2015.

if you pay attention, Charles is talking about the one in London.

Richard KiddFebruary 11th 2015.

Sounds good, as does Ibérica. But is Charles Campion really a new staff writer at Man Con? He only seems to pop up write positive preview pieces about London-based companies coming to our fair city. Kind of like a guest advertorial writing gig, but without the disclosure that you'd expect if it was part of the package the companies have paid for extensive coverage on ManCon prior to launch. What happened to Gordo's pledge to mark articles as promotional / advertising? Still, I'd love to read Mr Campion review the French, Manchester House or better still some of our smaller local independents for that matter! His columns and TV appearance are enjoyable and it would be good if he would help publicise some of our talent in that there London, rather than the other way round!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
EditorialFebruary 12th 2015.

We initially brought Mr Campion on board to write about the two large London operators, Iberica and Hawksmoor (of which he's visited a number of times), and let us Mancunians know what to expect from them. However, Mr Campion will soon be joining us again to review a top North West restaurant, so keep an eye out. In the mean time, the editor Jonathan Schofield has just published a cracking new review of The French. Enjoy.

The PublisherFebruary 12th 2015.

Mr. Kidd, the pledge remains the same. Mr. Campion and I have nearly finalised an agreement for him to become a regular columnist for us. We agreed, and I have paid for, two experimental pieces on what we should expect from the two of the key players arriving from London into Manchester. I am delighted with them, and hopefully, amongst many other announcements, we will be giving you good news about that appointment. This serves to underline the fact that I am committed to ensuring that The Confidentials remain the gold standard of North West restaurant reviewing.

Richard KiddFebruary 12th 2015.

Well that's good news, and I appreciate the reply. We will look forward to reading more from Mr Campion, especially more locally focussed reviews.

pollolocoFebruary 12th 2015.

I agree RK, most probably just another cog in the Hawksmoor PR machine amongst others a little closer to home :)

3 Responses: Reply To This...
EditorialFebruary 12th 2015.

Please see above Pollo.

GordoFebruary 12th 2015.

Oh dear Pollo. Why don't you go to the Evening News site? I thing it would suit you far better to be honest. It's riddled with other Pollo's. All sad, negative, never a nice thing to say about anything.

pollolocoFebruary 12th 2015.

Nothing wrong with Hawksmoor....its just the thinly veiled promotional PR...

AnonymousFebruary 12th 2015.

I do like his style of writing and I'm quite excited by Hawksmoor. I'm a boring diner and always get suckered into having a good steak. Smoak has always been my favourite in Manchester, so I'm rather looking forward to this.

AnonymousFebruary 12th 2015.

Is it Huw? Is it Hugh? Who knew?

Andrea HutchesonFebruary 13th 2015.

FFS, just tell me about the food.....

GlossopsharkMarch 5th 2015.

Just had a look at the Hawksmoor menu for Manchester and they are charging the same prices as they do in London. So the question is, VFM for London or expensive for Manchester?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AVOMarch 5th 2015.

I'd say it was expensive. Take for example Grill on the Alley. Their 450g T-Bone is £29 which includes a side. Hawksmoor's is £8/100g which equates to £36. Plus around £4 for a side which puts it to £40 or a third more expensive than GOTA. It's not all abut price but to some it is. I don't mind paying higher prices when I'm down in London because usually dinner down there is for a special occasion or part of a nice trip.

Mark GarnerMarch 8th 2015.

Avo, I spent Tuesday evening pulling down a pistol of dry aged beef into it's constituent parts at The Ginger Pig, in Shepherd's Bush, the suppliers. Believe me when I say there is simply no comparison between GTA's beef and this, frankly beautiful meat. Hawksmoor in Manchester have bettered even Gaucho. Good luck to 'em. Gordo has bought an eight year old car as it is far more important to him to eat well at the dinner table than arrive flashily on the way. Sort of the opposite I suppose to RW Emmersons 'life is about the journey not the destination'.

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