The past week I have been fortunate enough to visit the new Hawksmoor restaurant soon opening on Langley Street near Seven Dials not once, but twice.
Saturday on soft opening and yesterday on one of the brilliantly organized Dine With Dos Hermanos events (search for #DWDH on Twitter). See also Simon Majumdar, one half of the Dos Hermanos, account from the evening.
Anyone who knows me already know that the one restaurant I recommend to anyone asking the very random question "Do you know a good restaurant..." is Hawksmoor near Spitalfields. The original. I don't care if they are vegetarian, they need to try this. Have the lobster.
I genuinely do think this is the greatest restaurant in London, and I am in awe of Will Beckett and Huw Gott who have masterminded the experience from start to finish.
Of course, as a fan, I was wondering how the best restaurant in London could get any better. Would they deliver? Now, two visits of many to come (the Livebookings office is within walking distance...) into the acquaintance of the new venue I am already starting to think that yes, they have.
All the hygiene factors are covered, of course. Same consistently great food as in the original Hawksmoor, comfortable chairs, decently spaced tables, beautiful private dining room, interesting room layout in a place with a history, beautiful looking bar.
What propels Hawksmoor Seven Dials into great heights though are a few factors most places just don't get right.
Attention to detail. Check out the random assortment of cocktail glasses used in the bar. Or the covered up holes of the bunsen burners in the bar tables reclaimed from a school chem lab room. How about the cupboard in the dining room where you can have your own locker for your liquor.
And yes, after talking a bit to Huw I know that the same attention to detail goes into making sure everything that leaves the kitchen is inspected as expected.
Personality. The place just looks stunning. Reclaimed wood panels and flooring, tiles on the walls from the same company that supply London Underground, beautiful lighting, excellent colour palette... It is warm, welcoming, exciting and full of detail without being overwhelming. As my friend Ing put it, this is a bar where I can happily sit for "vast amount of hours" consuming their glorious cocktails.
In a way it reminds me of a ship (which Andrew Webb, @foodjournalist, also pointed out last night). The private dining room is like a Captain's Cabin, complete with map on the wall and cabinets for safe keeping of the wine glasses.
All of that would be lipstick on a pig though if it weren't for the fantastic staff. They unlock the personality potential in the Seven Dials venue, turning it into an experience rare to find. While clearly and rightfully proud of where they work, they are professional yet genuinely caring, and will do their utmost to make sure you leave in a haze of happiness.
Someone once told me, I think it was Oisin Rogers who runs The Ship in Wandsworth, that the attitude of the restaurant's staff is a direct function of the owners and managers.
I believe this is perfectly true. At Hawksmoor, you can witness this in action. Every night, all week.
Hawksmoor opens for business the 1st of November. I am going back, again, the 27th of November to celebrate my friend Ing's birthday and start the mourning of her leaving for Australia. I think it will be wet and messy, and I will enjoy every second of it.
Thanks to Simon Majumdar for organising, thanks to Hawksmoor for making the evening superb.