The last time I came to Hawksmoor Air Street I found it was all a bit corporate. Yes it’s slick and it oozes style with it’s art-deco interior. But it’s just too big. Too impersonal. For me Hawksmoor is about sitting in a meat dungeon and sinking my teeth into a good old hunk of cow, and being allowed to enjoy that luxury. This place turns over 700 covers on a Saturday. I’ve never heard of so many covers. The only way they can hit these numbers by turning over tables quickly. But I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Sunday roast here, so I decided to give it another try.
In the light of day it loses a bit of its charm. The decor felt like it is deliberately trying to evoke a certain feel, which of course it is. But at night the dim lighting means you are wrapped in its seductive spell, almost like you’re on a Mad Men set. But on the first warm Sunday of the year, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d rather be somewhere a little lighter and airier. As always is the case we were given one of the only naff tables in the place. It must be my face. I’ve got past the stage of asking to be moved. Today we were right by the till, meaning we always had a couple of waiters standing right by our sides as we chatted. They were very pleasant waiters though, as always is the case in Hawksmoor. Just the right side of hipster.
Right at the bottom of the menu sits the Sunday roast with all the trimmings for £19.50. This is good value given that a main here will easily set you back the best part of £35. I do feel there’s room for a Sunday menu though. Maybe a three course special. Because once you order a starter and a drink you’re looking at over £40 a head.
We started with the Tamworth belly ribs (£10.50) which were once again spot on. Perfectly tender with a good smokiness. It’s the quality of the meat that does the talking.
As for the main event, the roast really didn’t disappoint. I was expecting the meat to be top notch, but it still managed to surprise me with just how tender it could be. Maybe I’ve just grown accustomed to overcooked Sunday lunches that I’ve forgotten just how good a slab of beef served up medium-rare can taste. The Yorkshire pudding was a little on the soft side for my liking, and the bone marrow and onion gravy was good, but not as rich as I was hoping. It’s the little touches like the good fiery horseradish and the roasted head of garlic that set this above the rest.
We shared a Banoffee Sundae (£6) and this somehow managed to be even better than a banoffee pie. It the perfect end to a belt slackening winner of a meal.
So overall I left a bloated and happy punter. But for as much as I once again loved the food that Hawksmoor serves up, I still didn’t particularly fall for the Air Street venture. Even with a more laid back Sunday vibe it’s just too big. This isn’t the Hawksmoor that I grew to love. It started off as two young guys with a vision to open up a great British steak restaurant on a loan they scraped together. This is a corporate beast. This is what happens when your name is firmly established and the bank is bulging. It’s a footballer deciding to end his career in Russia or Abu Dhabi. And so it just doesn’t have that Sunday lunch essence. You don’t come here and relax and chat idly over a lovingly cooked roast. Whilst there’s no knocking the quality of the food, I want more from my Sunday lunch. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth the trip, I’d just save it for coming back on a Saturday night when a steak and a good cocktail is top of your list.
5a Air St, London W1J 0AD