5 things you should eat at Hawksmoor Borough Market


The latest branch is atmospheric – and with an emphasis on produce right on its doorstep, says Stephen Emms



Atmospheric: the new opening. Photos: PR
This latest branch of the hit steakhouse is situated in a Victorian building on the edge of Borough Market. Dating back to the mid-19th century, it stands on the grounds of the 12th century Winchester Palace. A hop warehouse by the 1930s, it later became an auction hall for a ‘colonial and foreign fruit’ specialists.

As longterm fans, we were hardly expecting a Damascene conversion, but after our visit we concluded there’s something extra special about this restaurant; and it might just have something to do with its location, and emphasis on market specials.

The classic bone-in prime rib. Photo: PR

Inside it’s also lighter than many other Hawksmoors, making it feel more laidback – and yet somehow like it’s been open for centuries. Clandestine couples, the odd stray tourist and rumbustious groups of suits alike are absorbed into its weathered timber beams and columns, salvaged from ships broken up on nearby docks.

A sense of antiquity is heightened by lots of reclaimed stuff, too: parquet flooring from a library in the Midlands, large holophane lights from a masonic lodge and table tops made from old school chemistry lab tops. Best of all, the cooking was nothing short of spectacular.

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5 things to try

Market-fresh: the tomatoes. Photo: SE

Marinda Tomatoes on toast

For this riff on bruschetta the sourdough is chargrilled and piled high with torn sweet Marinda tomatoes, deep red in colour (grown in Sicily throughout winter and available at Natoora in Borough Market). It’s topped with a translucent tangle of lardo, a type of salami made by curing strips of fatback with rosemary and other herbs and spices. The lardo is from Trealy Farm in Monmouthshire and sold at Cannon and Cannon in Borough – if you want to take some home.

Scallops

Roasted and served in blackened shells with vivid orange roe intact, these are some of the best examples of the briny plump sea beasts we’ve ever eaten. They carve like butter, with a herby, garlicky breadcrumb crust, yielding vanilla and aniseed due to the presence of white port and tarragon.

Lamb chops and clams. Photo: PR

Lamb chops

Three blushing salt marsh chops stand to attention in a cast iron two-handled pan on a jumble of clams, fresh from Poole in Dorset. Thyme is strewn about which lends a seasonal grassy freshness. The meat is pillowy rare, its edges burnt just-so, without any tallowy fattiness so typical of lamb when undercooked. The clams are plump and very good, braised for just five minutes, a real savoury side-kick to meat. A side of suitably slippery cabbage only adds to the textural overload.

Rib-eye

Of course, you must eat steak. “Hawksmoor virgins should try the 400g rib-eye with stilton hollandaise and dripping chips,” advises executive chef Richard Turner. Old-timers that we are, we nonetheless take his advice – eschewing the prime ribs, porterhouse, chateaubriand and many more. The medium-rare meat is sliced seductively, its crust carbonised, the umami flavours deepened further by (our preferred) anchovy hollandaise. Beef dripping fries are moreish.

Top tip: the chocolate. Photo: PR

Chocolate & Hazelnut George V

Based on an old-school dessert first made in Paris, this is a combination of hazelnut brownie, chocolate ganache (with 75% dark chocolate) and hazelnut caramel. It’s topped with smooth chocolate croquant and sea salt. But it’s the lingering tang of olive oil from Brindisa that raises the bar. (Let’s not forget that dipping doughnuts with rhubarb and cream were damn good too).

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Mouth watering now? Read more on Hawksmoor in our interview with co-founder Will Beckett here. Hawksmoor Borough (16 Winchester Walk, SE1) does a set menu of £25 (pre 630pm and post-10pm) for two courses including a 250g rib-eye. More info here

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