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We tried 27 items on the menu at Dublin's new steakhouse. Here's what to order...


5 Sept 2023


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Written by:

Lisa Cope

What should we know about Hawksmoor?

You probably know it all at this stage, but just in case you've been in Witness Protection for the past few months...

Hawksmoor is the London-born restaurant that was named "best steakhouse in Europe" in the World's Best Steak awards, coming second globally (and it's actually not another nonsense awards situation - judges on every continent conduct visits anonymously). They're also certified as B Corp, meaning they have to continuosly prove that they meet high environmental and social standards, with accountability and transparency, and they were the world's first carbon-neutral steak restaurant group. Impressed yet?

It was big news last summer that we were getting a Hawksmoor of our own in the old Abercrombie and Fitch site on College Green - their first outside the UK and New York (Chicago is coming soon), and despite making us wait almost a year for the doors to open, demand for soft launch tables was unsurprisingly through the roof. The 50% off food offer helped of course, with 8 days of bookings gone in minutes.

We bagged ATF Insiders an exclusive first look at their famous Sunday roast (an offering badly lacking in the capital) but have been back a couple of times since, and managed to work our way through most of the menu - 27 items in fact - so we're here to break it down for you.

Where should we go for a drink first?

There's a beautiful bar at the front but each time we've been it's been empty - maybe they're still waiting for word to get out - so depending on the atmosphere we'd say here, The Blind Pig around the corner for a cocktail, Fallon & Byrne's wine cellar for a glass of wine, or The Foggy Dew across the road for a pint.

Where should we sit?

There are a multitude of seating options in this arresting room with its dramatic ceiling dome, and considering how busy it's been you're unlikely to get your choice of tables, but for our money the large booths at the very back of the room when you walk in are the best of the bunch (their wine manager agrees). There are smaller green velvet four tops on both sides of the room, and long rows of banquette seating, as well as standalone tables, and the room feels masculine, clubby, and sprawling - it seats 200 at capacity.

Exciting news also dropped last month that they were ready to take bookings for their 18-seater private dining room off to the side, 'None The Wiser', offering sharing dishes and family-style feasts. One to bookmark for your next work night out/group gathering/special occasion.

Give us the menu breakdown. Starters, go...

Right, are you strapped in? The menu starts with oysters, either Flaggy Shore dainties (natural or with scotch bonnet mignonette) or Kelly Gigas roasted with bone marrow. We very much recommend the warm, savoury yet sweet, creamy, crumbly latter - even oyster deniers might get on board with these ones. The roasted currach-caught scallops with white port and garlic are pricey at €18 (€6 a scallop) but we loved them too - you just might not be kissing anyone for a while afterwards.

Hawksmoor are famous for their bone marrow with toast, an animal part so rarely (and inexplicably) seen here, and if you've never experienced the joy of scraping well cooked marrow out of the bone and smearing it onto bread (like the best beef-flavoured butter), now's your chance - just don't forget a generous sprinkle of sea salt on top. Andarl Farm pork belly ribs were not what we were expecting, in the best way (they were boneless for one), with the tangy meat collapsing under our knives, and the vinegar slaw a bright, refreshing side show.

There are two starter options for vegetarians and vegans, and we're relieved to tell you that both are worth ordering, whether you're a meat eater or not. A ripe, heritage tomato salad came with diced cucumber, thinly sliced shallot rings and fresh herbs in a vinegar-heavy dressing, which all tasted beautiful under a generous scoop of soft St. Tola goat's cheese.

The vegan option (although why you'd bring a vegan into a steakhouse is beyond us) is ash-baked beetroot with pickled fennel and horseradish, and while that doesn't sound overly interesting, it really was - the sweet beetroot, tang of the fennel, punch of the horseradish (creamed and fresh), and a clever sprinkling of breadcrumbs pulling together a salad made for people who like their flavours turned up.

The last starter we tried, and the one we liked least, was the smoked mackerel salad with new potatoes, horseradish and watercress. It was fine, but tasted like something we'd pull together for a midweek lunch at home, and the mackerel tasted like the big brand type rather than the local fishmonger type - it's the only fish item on the menu with no provenance.

Got it. Tell us about the mains...

Onto what you're probably here for - the steaks. There are four set priced ones on the menu, ranging from €26 for rump to €42 for fillet, and other cuts (Chateaubriand, Porterhouse, Prime-rib and T-bone) are priced per 100g, with available sizes listed on blackboards on the wall.

From the set priced ones we tried the rump, sirloin and rib-eye. The rump was undoubtedly the weakest, drier and chewier than the others, but if you order the cheapest thing on the menu what do you expect. The sirloin was better, although the first time we had it it came pre-sliced without much of a buttery coating, the second time it came as a whole piece with far more fatty flavour from the pan.

You can add a half native lobster in garlic butter onto the side of your steak, but at €28.50 when we visited this is not good value for money (you can get a whole one in King Sitric with chips for €40) so we'd skip that splurge unless you're living the high life.

The rib-eye was far and away the best steak we tried of the three, beautifully browned outside, the additional fat bringing all the flavours. All of the steaks we tried were cooked more or less the way we asked for them, with a couple coming more medium-well than medium - if it had been any further in one direction we would have asked for a redo, and at these prices so should you.

The sharing steaks are where you'll really want your debit cards greased up, and have the potential to make people nervous - you'll need a calculator to figure out what they cost. There's been quite a few complaints about the availability of only very large sizes when guests have visited, and we found the same on two visits. We did manage to get a 550g Prime-rib for two (they recommend 300g of meat per person) but at €71.50 we would have liked more meat (we presume the bone was part of that weight). One hungry person could easily have eaten this alone.

When it comes to fish they've got Dublin Bay monkfish, whole native lobster in garlic butter (which will come in at €55-60 depending on size with no sides), and 'Dublin Lawyer' - a whole lobster baked with whiskey, leeks, cream and Cáis na Tíre, at the eye-watering price of €75.

When one of our party wanted monkfish they were told the smallest size available was 300g, which came in at €42, with just a lemon for company. This is big money for most people, and will be pushed towards €50 with a single side. It was well cooked but we can't say we thought it was worth the price tag.

There's one option for the vegetarian in your life (nothing for vegans but again, it would just be cruel to bring them here) - a Ballylisk Wellington with celeriac, mushrooms and Ballylisk cheese. While we loved the originality of this dish (and are die-hard Ballylisk fans) it's very heavy, dense and meaty from the mushrooms, and it would be more suited to a cold winter's evening than a sweltering day in summer. Our token veggie liked it, but as it went on found it a bit much, and didn't finish it.

Okay, what about the sides?

There are triple-cooked chips and beef-dripping fries, and it's fries or die for us. They're as close to McDonalds as you'll get without having to step under the golden arches, while the triple-cooked ones were disappointingly beige - lacking crispness and fluffiness.

The Hawksmoor caesar comes with Cantabrian anchovies and plenty of cheese, and we loved that you eat it leaf by leaf, each its own vessel for the lovlieness within. The macaroni and cheese is also worth your money, with just cooked pasta, a rich, well seasoned sauce (clearly made with good cheese) and a browned breadcrumb topping.

Creamed spinach, a steakhouse must, is done very well here, with the right amount of cream to spinach and a perfect sprinkling of nutmeg, but the grilled hispi cabbage on the menu is not hispi cabbage - it's buttered spring greens. While they taste as they should, it's quite the comedown if you're expecting grilled hispi cabbage - they've gotten us twice on this now and we're not sure why the menus haven't been reprinted (it does say buttered greens online).

We tried all the sauces, and here's our verdicts:

Béarnaise - textbook perfect

Young Buck hollandaise - blissful, if you like blue cheese you'll love

Anchovy hollandaise - as above with anchovies

Porcini hollandaise - a mushroomy version of the same but not as interesting

Bone marrow gravy - gravy but better

Peppercorn sauce - don't do it. It doesn't resemble anything you know as peppercorn sauce and is more like a dishwatery gravy. Should be deported immediately

What about the Sunday roast?

It's €23 for dry-aged beef rump (cooked deliciously pink and so tender), beef-dripping roast potatoes (nice but missing the crunch, which always seems to be the issue with roasties made en masse), Yorkshire pudding (huge but ours were dry and papery - other diners don't seem to have had this problem), roasted carrots (lovely), buttered greens (ditto), roasted garlic (why isn't this served with every roast) and bone marrow gravy (a joy).

We ordered an additonal side of cauliflower chese and it was as good as it gets - al dente cauliflower, a rich cheese sauce, and perfectly browned on top. If you want to pop your Hawksmoor cherry you'd do worse than starting with the roast, it's up there with the best in Dublin (albeit that's a very short list).

Tell us about the desserts?

If you're still reading fair play to you. The 'Peanut Butter Louis' is the unmissable one here - a layered, crispy, peanut butter and caramel filled, chocolate covered rectangle, served with salted caramel ice-cream. If you've gone for the full kit and kaboodle it will probably push you over the edge, so we recommend sharing.

The same goes for the sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream, which is British pud perfection. You should also share this one, for your stomach's sake, but you'll find it difficult.

The tiramisu comes covered in a mascarpone mound, with Irish whiskey and coffee-soaked sponge, and coffee ice-cream hiding right in the middle. It's very good.

For something marginally lighter, the strawberry pavlova with custard cream and strawberry basil sorbet was a bright, summer-filled ending, and the salted caramel rolos (€6 for three or €15 for eight to take away) are a good choice if you can't face a whole dessert (or just be greedy like us and have both).

What about drinks?

They take cocktails as seriously as meat in here, and everything we tried could compete with the city's best cocktail bars, including the 'New Cork Sour', 'Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew', and the 'Sour Cherry Negroni', although we did have one incident involving the 'Ultimate Gin Martini' (€14).

On ordering we were told that the latest batch wasn't ready yet, it was in the cooling stage, and were offered a regular martini (a bit of a comedown from the "ultimate" but okay). We were asked to pick a gin, Tanqueray (on the cheaper end of the scale) was selected, and all was fine until the bill arrived and we'd been charged €19. A elongated debate with a bar manager followed about why a basic martini was €5 more than the "ultimate" one, and eventually it was removed altogether, but it didn't make a whole pile of sense and the drawn-out mansplaining episode seriously delayed our departure.

The wine list is towing a line between crowd-pleasing (including an own-label Malbec we imagine will be popular) and wanting to appeal to the city's wine lovers (and big spenders), and you might not be surprised to hear that there's not a lot under €50. Our best advice is to ask the wine manger for her recommendations and tell her what you want to spend - she steered us towards a Slovenian Furmint which went beatifully with some seafood, and a Georgian Saperavi, which we went straight out and bought a bottle of afterwards from The Corkscrew.

The best way to drink wine in here is to visit for the BYO Monday wine club, where corkage on any bottle is €5 - if you like the good stuff it won't take long to figure out the savings you could make on the bill - you can even bring a magnum for the same price. Oh and pro tip - always offer the wine manager/sommelier a taste. You will instantly become their favourite customer of the night.

How was the service?

Better when it was quiet, lacking at times when it was very busy. Servers were all very pleasant, knowledgeable and helpful, but at times we found ourselves straining to get someone's attention in the 200-seater space, and on one visit we reckon we sat for an hour more than we'd planned to because of delays in ordering, calling the bill and paying it. It's not the intimate service experience you'll get in places like Etto or Library Street, and some people might prefer that, but we could have done with a bit more checking in.

What was the damage?

It can vary wildly depending on what you order, but we'd budget €100+ a head before tip if you want to do it right - that estimated €4 million fit out has to be repaid somehow. The clever money's in the express menu, served Monday - Saturday until 6pm, with two courses for €29 or three for €33, including rump steak, monkfish, the sticky toffee pudding and more.

And the verdict?

How anyone could deny that Hawksmoor is a remarkable addition to the capital is beyond us (and there are always dissenters out there). There's nothing else like it in the city, and it does feel a bit like little 'ol Dublin is joining the dining big leagues - where one international outfit goes, others tend to follow.

However highstreet steak house chain this is not - it's premium dining at premium prices, with generally the provenance to back it up, and if you get your head around that and budget accordingly you should have a great time here.

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