A special occasion for Matt and I means one thing – eating out. Last year for our anniversary we went to local Michelin Star restaurant Chapter One and spent £150 of our saved money on some very fine dining with even better cocktails. For my birthday last year we went with my sister (and my dog) to Whitstable in Kent and ate a late lunch in The Continental Hotel, where Matt tried lobster and oysters for the first time. Unfortunately he did in fact turn out to like the latter. Gross.
This year Matt booked a table for us at Hawksmoor. I had only been introduced to Hawksmoor via Tom and his “Hawksmoor At Home” cookery book that he brought along on our week away in Devon. It seemed Hawksmoor isn’t the place you want to take a vegetarian along to – and that’s I think why Matt chose it for my birthday meal.
We left the house at about 4pm as we had decided to stop somewhere for a few drinks before the meal and make a bit of an evening of it. Naturally we ended up at the Oxo Tower, where despite the fact it is still surprisingly hidden, it was packed. Not only was it packed, but it was so with every sort of person you hate. It ranged from young professionals flashing cash to an uninterested piece of “arm candy”, to groups of middle aged women posing at the bar taking photos of themselves with cocktails, to a bunch of loud obnoxious “manc”s who had come down for some audition or other. I knew all this because they pretty much shouted this to everyone. Despite all this, we ordered our drinks and figured out the standing space outside was the best place to be.
Everything taken into consideration, we figured the best thing to do was move on after our drink – except we had no idea where to. It was still a few hours until our table booking so we couldn’t just turn up. TFL told us that from that point, getting public transport to Hawksmoor would take in the region of 35 minutes, yet walking would take 45 minutes. So of course we walked, thinking we’d stop off some places along the way.
If you’ve ever been to The City at the weekend, you’ll notice it is a ghost town. It is all office blocks and banks, so nothing goes on at the weekend. L’Occitane’s Threadneedle St store doesn’t even bother opening at the weekend. After finding Liverpool Street Station (which in all honesty I had only seen on a Monopoly board before) we ended up at the restaurant itself without a single bar on the way that grabbed our interest. It was still shut. We found a lively packed pub airing the Manchester United/Fulham match and had a drink before deciding to have a wander. I had no idea that Brick Lane was in that area and it was only after we had followed a crowd that we discovered this. We turned the wrong way up the street and after realising it was curry house after curry house asked a guy who told us to turn back.
We ended up having a drink in The Big Chill Bar which quite frankly was full of hipsters, but it didn’t really matter. Matt described the place as “studenty” which hit the nail on the head, but it didn’t mean it was in any way terrible. We had an admittedly over-priced cocktail (but hey, it’s Brick Lane), perched on a bar stool looking at flyers for art exhibitions and DJ nights and passed the time.
It was at that point that we figured it was late enough to be classed as early for our table at Hawksmoor, and sat at the bar before being showed to our table. The restaurant itself is not pretentious in any way – inevitable exposed brick walls, dim lighting, dark wood furniture and chalk boards on the walls displaying cuts and weights of meat. Now I have no frame of reference for steak. They advised that the ones marked on the board were big, but is that a normal persons big, or a fucking huge piece of meat? Is 600g to much? Too small? How big is 1.3kg of steak?
We ordered a few starters to share (including a lobster cocktail) and our mains. Matt went for a fillet and I went for a rib-eye. And it turned out 600g was indeed too much, especially once you start adding on sides. By the end of the evening I had felt sickness like no other. I had a serious case of the “meat sweats” and sincerely regretted everything. I felt like curling up in a heap in the corner disgusted at myself – that’s how much meat I ate. This meant that the cocktails at the Oxo Tower, pub, Brick Lane AND Hawksmoor on top of the bottle of wine were not sitting well, and in honesty it would have done me better to go to the toilet and just have a tactical vomit. On top of that, the meal cost a fair amount more than Chapter One.
I can say I loved the experience, but if I were to ever go back, I would not order half the stuff we ordered this time. Because even though I felt so sick from eating all that meat, the 600g steak was one of the smallest ones. The amount we ate was obscene – almost enough for a standard eating challenge in mid-west USA – the problem was it tasted far too good to leave at the side of your plate. On the way back, I was feeling so ill, I could barely walk.
Ladies and gentlemen, at the age of 23 (almost) I have found my limit.