Thirty five quid for a fry-up. OK, that is for two, but still that’s a lorra money for a cooked breakfast. But when it comes with the Hawksmoor’s meaty seal of approval it gives you confidence that you’ll be in for a treat.
With the Hawksmoor recently adding a third restaurant to their Empire, my Twitter has been filled with images of friends gorging themselves on what can only be described as a contender for the Breakfast of Champions. Immediately my good friend and erstwhile blogger Mr Eggsley came to mind as a dining companion; he has taken it upon himself to seek out the Capital’s breakfast haunts and share his bacon fat lubricated musings on his Breaskfast Epiphanies blog. It was a mild and sunny November morning that the missus and I, a little dressed up for the occasion arrived for our casually late 11.30am breakfast. Mr Eggsley was waiting, looking resplendent in a classic Tweed jacket but with modern detailing that is so reflective of his character.
The restaurant has a very relaxed vibe that I hadn’t expected, from reading reviews I had imagined something a bit more austere, I suspect with the restaurant being easterly facing and touches of velvet here and there that once the sun is long beyond the midday zenith it becomes the City of London steak boudior of my imagination – but on this sunny morning there’s lovely spill of autumnal light filling the room and it’s more reminiscent of a friendly bar, a place you can while away a few hours with the big papers, while sipping on a cocktail or two.
We got straight down to business with a round of cocktails, Bloody Mary for Mr Eggsley, the appropriately named Angel Face for the missus and the much heralded Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew for myself. The Ginger brew is right up my street – gin, homemade ginger syrup and lemon juice topped up with London Pride. Many years ago a landlord had told me of a nice summery shandy alternative that mixed bitter with ginger beer – this was that but on steroids – bracing and probably a great hang over curative. The missus followed up with a Bloody Mary; although nice, we both agreed that it lacked a touch of sweetness, and perhaps a richer tomato juice would serve it better.
The Hawksmoor Breakfast is the titan of their breakfast menu – a monster platter consisting of bone-in bacon chop, sausages, bone marrow, black pudding, fried eggs, bubble & squeak, mushrooms, roast toms, trotter baked beans, bone marrow gravy and as much dripping toast as you can eat. It comes as a serving for two, and as Mr Eggsley was happy ordering the bacon, sausage and eggs, with sides of trotter beans, mushrooms and fried tomatoes this left the missus and I to tackle the Full English together. I must admit, I was a little perturbed that only a short period of time elapsed between ordering and our food arriving. I’m not saying I expected everything to be knocked up to order, but it seemed like some of elements could have benefitted from a touch more TLC before heading to our table. For me the black pudding was a tad dried out, the bowl of the deeply savoury tasting trotter beans were slightly tepid, and the bubble and squeak would be much improved by a few minutes in a saute pan with a nob of dripping.
On a practicality front, I’m a torn on the ‘serving for two’ side of things. For sure, you can’t doubt how impressive that platter looks when it arrives and there’s something splendid about diving into this feast and ‘being Mum’. But I’m weighing this up against the inconvenience of it – trying to carve up a giant bacon chop without a steak knife or carefully fishing out two freshly fried eggs without breaking their yolks were two tasks I wouldn’t have missed on a Sunday morning. Personally I’d prefer it served up ready-to-eat on plates, as at the moment it feels more like a collection of great tasting individual pieces. So some good and some not so good, but overall it was a very enjoyable meal, the meat as expected was top notch, the bacon chop in particular will have swine lovers rolling like hogs in mud and the unctuous HP gravy is a genius idea and more than made up for some of the minor shortcomings. Service was excellent and the staff are very friendly. I’ll definitely be back, not least because there’s the HkMuffin to be sampled.
Of course breakfast with Mr Eggsley wouldn’t be complete without an epiphany, naturally mine is a food inspired one: Like the Sunday roast, the fry-up is a shining example of that British love for chucking the entire meal on a single plate. The fry-up is a mish-mash, a grazing plate to pick over and around, eating a bit of this with a bit of that. I’m sure everyone has their own approach, I bet hours could be devoted to discussing that alone. Some old Italian housemates seemed horrified by this need to pile everything onto one plate, but what a Full English does share with their cuisine is an emphasis on sourcing the best produce. The skill required to cook a good fry up is pretty easily attained, the difference comes from the quality of ingredients.