Ever since our initial jaunt to Gaucho around Christmas, Hans and I made a vow to try Hawksmoor so that we could once and for all decide the steak king. It would have to be a special occasion, as steak deserves its own special occasion, so we chose birthday. Mine is April 19th, his May 3rd.We visited on 30th June.
In the intermittent time, I went to Black and Blue, the Accountant’s choice for best steak. As usual I went rib-eye, which was large and chewy and at medium-rare started to become a challenge to eat. More cooking may have dissolved some of the fat, as may have their sourcing of better meat. For the £28 you may have got chips and a side salad, but I would rather have paid the extra £10 for a Hawksmoor or Gaucho any day.
With its black, plush decor and beautiful Latino waiting staff, Gaucho has a stylish severity to it. Hawksmoor on the other hand is unashamedly a steak house: hardwood and check shirts sticks in the mind. The staff were I would dare say friendlier, but more approachable may be the more accurate description. Gaucho had a tighter-dressed crowd (take from that what you will), while Hawksmoor had after-workers and awkward double dates, though maybe this is more representative of the weekday vs. weekend crowd.
Aside: I won a free meal at MeatLiquor through Instagram. £30 for two people. We ordered the first four things on the menu (philly cheese steak (which was 60/30/10 mushrooms/bread/steak), Jack Daniels burger, cajun fries, South African chicken wings). The decor was intense. The music was loud. There were a lot of families, surprising for this non-family friendly place. I found a PDQ machine in the toilet. A man at the table next to us ate a burger and was the most attractive I have ever seen anyone eating anything, all meat, muscles and motivation. It was the most disappointing meal I have had in London, but the price was right.
Hans’s dad had proudly proclaimed Hawksmoor as the best steak in London. Another of my friend’s said that Hawksmoor was “marginally” better. The man at the table next to us was having his steak with a regular knife. Watching him cut the steak made tears come to my eyes: like a stick of butter through some slightly warmer butter.
Rump, ribeye, two types of chips, a bottle of Malbec. Both steaks were outstanding, though either we weren’t sophisticated enough to tell much difference between them or had imbibed too heavily.
“Is this what good wine tastes like?”
“Have you never had good wine?”
“I guess not. I like wine. Who knew?! It’s so meaty. Three orgasms for how this tastes with the steak.”
Three days later Hans would return to Gaucho (the special occasion being that he had a date who was willing to pay) and verify that Gaucho had the better steak.
Hawksmoor had the better Malbec (surprising as Gaucho is Argentinian) and the triple cooked chips and ketchup are the best of either that I have ever tasted.
Hans threw some water onto to the seat behind him but nobody mentioned anything. We still belong.
I had a conversation with the waitress about the meat being sourcing. She was impressed with my knowledge and I with hers. Documentaries taught me everything I know.
From the decor to the meat board to the steak – with its variety, texture and taste – Gaucho was our heart and soul, but a bottomless brunch was a step too far and we are no longer welcome there.
Hans’ dad revisited Hawksmoor and said the Chateaubriand is the best thing he had ever eaten. Hans and I could have ordered better. Next time, Chateaubriand and a side of bone marrow, for our proxy favourite steak place.
End Aside: my friend in Stoke suggested a steak place in Stoke for her birthday. Oh how I laughed. We went to a pub instead. It was fine, though our other two dining companions said that they liked their steak well done and I left (mentally).