Hawksmoor Air Street: Winning formula, every time

Being a regular reviewer of restaurants has many privileges, but a combination of coincidence and premeditation has seen me visit three different Hawksmoor locations across London in the last two months. Regardless of venue (Air Street, Seven Dials and Spitalfields, in reverse chronological order), the formula has been not only remarkably consistent but also hugely successful. Put simply, this is about good meat in a highly convivial atmosphere. The Air Street branch is a relative rarity within the Hawksmoor group in that the restaurant is not in a basement. Ascend a beautiful curving staircase and diners are welcomed into a large room which pays wonderful homage to all that is good about art deco. Note the curved banquettes and the stained glass windows. Despite being remarkably capacious in size, the experience remained intimate, a hard act to pull off. Hawksmoor must clearly be doing something right, since the venue was packed on the Monday night when we visited. One factor which may help (and from which wine geeks can benefit especially) is the minimal £5 corkage charged on Mondays. Although we did all bring our own wines (and what a marvellous spread – see picture), the sommeliers were highly knowledgeable and efficient, helping to curate the evening and ensure its success. Onto the food and there is no reinvention of the wheel here. It’s all reassuringly British and mostly very comforting, particularly on a cold and wet November evening. Diners can enjoy the likes of scampi or smoked mackerel but the main event here is the steak. Staff were, once again, highly informed, suggesting the appropriate cuts and combination for our group. The chateaubriand was to die for; rich and moist with a lovely texture. Pair this with macaroni cheese and this works superbly – trust me. Over the years I have visited, I have seen no signs of standards slipping at Hawksmoor – regardless of branch. Long may this continue!