[Manchester, city centre] Hawksmoor

This was our third visit to Hawksmoor in Manchester. There’s much to like. There’s good food, of course. The room is spacious – it was packed and noisy but the tables are well spaced and there’s no sense of you being hemmed in and, indeed, the noise doesn’t affect you having a proper conversation. And service is absolutely spot on. It’s the style of service where you know everything is going to happen as it should and you don’t really notice that it’s happening, but someone’s always there when you need something. I’ve more to say about customer service in a while.

I’ve had the bone marrow starter before. Two split bones filled up with soft unctuous marrow, topped with long cooked onions. They give you a spoon so you can properly dive in. Two thick slices of toast are perfect for dolloping the mix onto. The other starter was potted smoked mackerel. A really flavoursome pate, served with lightly pickled (?) cucumber and thin slices of crisp toast. Two belting plates.

You come here to eat steak. A ribeye was a generous portion, tender and accurately cooked as requested but there was something lacking in the flavour from previous visits. Dripping fries were a masterpiece. And a simple salad of dressed butterhead lettuce worked almost perfectly with the meat - the only negative was it had a sprinkling of mint which my partner found a bit odd (but I thought was lovely). They used to have a 55 day aged rump steak on the menu but that’s now gone, so I ordered the ordinary rump. It just wasn’t really right. A thick slab of meat, maybe four inches thick, cooked to the rare side of medium rare. It tasted fine but it was genuinely really hard work to cut even with a steak knife. I finished most of it, of course. And the macaroni cheese I’d ordered to go with it was lovely – nice stringy , tasty cheese.

We were too full for dessert so just got the bill. Jack, the guy who brought the card machine over, asked how things had been. I told him about the problem with my steak, pointing out that I had scoffed most of it. Nevertheless, he immediately offered to take it off the bill. Great customer service but it didn’t end there. He said he’d make a note on the records and that, next time we booked, to ask for him and he’d buy me another steak. That really does go above and beyond what you might reasonably expect. Just brilliant.

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What are dripping fries?

Fries fried in beef dripping.

Hawksmoor is the only place I know that does fries like this - although it is relatively common for places to cook British style chips in dripping. In fact, I regard it a a good sign of a place if it does. Perhaps oddly, Hawksmoor does not cook its chips in dripping, preferring the thrice cooked style in oil.

Sounds like a wonderful meal and the service was indeed exemplary. But I am confused as to the difference between fries and British style chips, I would have thought those were the same thing.

Fries are thin and crisp (like fast food fries, not American home fries). Chips are thicker - think finger sized - and not quite the crispness (one of those rare occasions where you’re going to read that a bit of floppiness is a good thing). We also have “chunky chips” about which the less said the better - much bigger than a proper chip and, to my mind, an abomination of the chip friers craft.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold