After a month off, EatFIFA was back down to business with England, the highest-ranked uneaten country in June’s FIFA rankings.
Not necessarily the easiest port of call in our London-based mission, the quintessential English dish is a matter of some debate. Fish and chips, the fry-up and the often-touted chicken tikka masala were all candidates, but the Sunday roast prevailed as our most English of EatFIFA nominees. Once that was decided, the hunt for London’s greatest roast was a formality – it could only be Hawksmoor. Now boasting three sites (soon to be four, but still not flouting our ever-bendable rule about chains), Hawksmoor opened its first branch on Commercial Road six years ago and aimed to be the best steak restaurant the capital could offer. It’s no best-kept-secret, by any stretch, and their Sunday roast has already achieved legendary status, but we try and aim for the greatest on offer.
An eight-strong EatFIFA congregation took their seats on a typically busy Sunday afternoon at the east London branch, and several glasses of Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew – a refreshing mix of gin, ginger syrup, lemon juice, crushed ice and London Pride – were ordered.
The mountainous roasts (and a couple of burgers, for the distinctly unpatriotic FIFAEaters among us) duly arrived, complete with gigantic Yorkshires and slabs of pink rump steak sourced from vaunted butchers The Ginger Pig. The meat, rather unsurprisingly, is the star – a salty, charred exterior gives way to the melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Deluxe roasts are ten-a-penny in London’s gastropubs these days, but very few can hope to match dear old Hawksy. Only the terrifying pile of cabbage threatened the balance of the dish, which was supplemented by the superb bone marrow and onion gravy. Past visits to Hawksmoor on a Sunday have been rewarded with entire roasted garlic cloves on the plate, but this time we had some shallots, still sitting shyly in their skin. Once disrobed, they were essential companions to a mouthful of the beef.
Conscious of our frequent aversion to desserts after previous EatFIFA feasts, we made up for it here by calling for the pudding menu. Unlike many steak restaurants, Hawksmoor’s desserts (like their starters and sides) are more than merely peripheral afterthoughts – salted caramel provides a nice touch to the line-up of hearty classics. We opted for the peanut butter shortbread and chocolate malt tart, which we just about finished off after the meat had done its best to conquer us.
Value For Money: 62.1
Hawksmoor was a dependable banker in our voyage of discovery, and certainly didn’t disappoint. At £19.50, the roast costs a pretty penny, but is justifiably priced above its competitors for sheer volume, let alone quality.
The scores looked set to propel EatEngland to the top of the EatFIFA rankings, but the Spanish remain top of the table by the thinnest of margins. The competition has begun to hot up, and EatFIFA’s mission continues with another culinary heavyweight next month in the shape of Italy*.
(*August’s FIFA rankings pending)