Hawksmoor's subterranean Seven Dials restaurant – the interior of which is thankfully more Wayne Manor than bat cave. But on both occasions, the burger I ordered paled into insignificance next to the other wonderful treats on the table.
On my first visit I tried the fabled Kimchi Burger (also £15 with triple cooked chips, above). Kimchi, for the uninitiated, is a Korean preparation of fermented vegetables (most commonly napa cabbage) with various seasonings. It's got a highly unusual flavour and while I think it's a commendably bold and original burger topping - even more so when paired with Ogleshield cheese, which it is - I couldn't finish the burger. The Kimchi Burger is also a particularly drippy beast and the combined flavours were frankly a bit too much. I ended up leaving almost half of it and focusing my attention on some Tamworth Belly Ribs – which totally blew my mind with their oriental five spice meets melt-in-the-mouth, slow cooked, BBQ porky goodness – concluding that perhaps the Kimchi burger concept might be better encapsulated in a mini, rather than a full sized, burger.
OK, so that was my Kimchi Burger experience of a few months ago, but just the other day I was booked in with regular Burgerac contributor, Cheeseblogger, to sample a Hawksmoor Hamburger which is made, I understand, with 80% lean Longhorn meat, blended with 20% bone marrow to give it a particularly rich flavour and juiciness. Having heard nothing but high praise for it, I don't need to tell you how excited we both were about finally getting round to checking one out. However, knowing from lip-smacking previous experience about the delightful Tamworth Belly Ribs, I'd suggested to Cheeseblogger, a Hawksmoor debutant, that we halve a burger and sample some of the restaurant's other delights. So, we ordered one burger, Tamworth Ribs, Macaroni Cheese as a side, Beef Dripping Chips, and the Grilled Bone Marrow with Slow Cooked Shallots & Toast. Oof!
And, crucially to our evening's enjoyment, we ordered a couple of glass mugs full of Shakey Pete's Ginger Brew - another discovery I made on my first visit. This drink, in my humble opinion, is one of the greatest achievements in the history of mixology. Hawksmoor employee Shakey Pete is the genius that devised this magical brew which consists of gin with homemade ginger syrup and lemon juice, topped up in a glass mug with London Pride ale. A kind of "turbo shandy for the discerning drinker" according to the blurb in the cocktails list that made me choose it in the first instance. Shitballs, readers – this stuff is the proverbial bomb! I don't ever want to drink anything else. Refreshing, gingery, lemony, icy, frothy magic!
But I digress, I'm supposed to be telling you about the burger. And yet I feel I should first tell you about the Macaroni Cheese which arrived in a mini casserole pot with a perfectly grilled cheese crust and which tasted of the finest earthy cheddar imaginable. And about the Grilled Bone Marrow, the eating of which trumped the best oyster eating experience I've ever had to the power of at least twelve. Wow, Hawksmoor food is goooood...
And finally, to the burger... It was cloaked (as you can see) in a veritable winter duvet of cheese. About 15 tog of powerfully odorous Ogleshield cheese, to be precise. Regular readers will be well aware that myself and Cheeseblogger love cheese in our burgers, but this turned out to be several tog surplus to requirement. The meat patty was cooked beautifully but was disappointingly thin and tasted far more of salt than it did of meat. It was also prolifically drippy, so much so that only after a few mouthfuls of burger, the bottom of the bun, now saturated, fell apart causing my handful of burger to disintegrate completely – prompting equal measures of disappointment and disinterest in the various lumps of brioche bun, waxy with cooling bone marrow grease, over-salted meat and cheese stodge now strewn all over my plate. I believe the phrase used these days to describe such a calamity is "epic fail."
Only here's the thing: Cheeseblogger and I didn't feel crushed. Because, despite neither of us enjoying the Hawksmoor burger, we were high on Shakey Pete's brew and able to commiserate with the most delectable mac cheese we may ever taste in our whole lives and those frankly amazeballs belly ribs I keep mentioning. Then our waitress proved herself to be nothing short of a god-like-genius by suggesting we share a Cornflake Sundae for dessert – probably the best ice cream dessert I've ever tasted.
Bravo, Hawksmoor. As a restaurant, it is a five-star meat-lovers paradise staffed by friendly, clever and attentive folk. It also boasts one of the finest cocktails ever devised on its drinks menu. We shall return. But probably not for a burger.
11 Langley Street
Tel: 020 7856 2154
NB: There's also a branch of Hawksmoor in Spitalfields at 157 Commercial Street, E1. See the website for opening times of each restaurant and more details