'You don't have to be (in to) Mad (Men) to eat here, but it helps!'
This is the imaginary sign I've got in mind as I descend down the stairs of the new Hawksmoor restaurant, recently opened in London's Covent Garden. Comparisons of the design of the dining room and bar with the stylish TV programme have been plentiful, apparently, though some have also juxtaposed it with the Titanic; the refined and stylish elegance is obvious for anyone to see. Where the original Spitalfields location exudes a scruffy, laid-back charm, the Seven Dials follow-up is all wood and brass - a gentleman's club that serves the best steaks in town.
Your choice of which bit of bovine to gnaw on is restricted to only a few cuts, though the team can get in any preferred steak - once again supplied by the fantastic Ginger Pig butchers - with 48 hours' notice. Among the ones we tried were the three larger cuts from the board, written out by weight and 'ideal for sharing'. The rendered and gooey fat made the bone-in prime rib our number one choice, but the porterhouse and chateaubriand (essentially a larger cut of the fillet) were also well liked. The D-rump - the cheapest steak on the menu at £19.50 - was also a delight. A minerally, beefy taste was ensured by the steak being aged for 55 days, while the cooking was spot on: a crusty exterior gave way to a slightly soft, slightly chewy red centre. Sides came in the form of beef dripping chips and triple cooked chips (go for the former), a moreish creamed spinach and the almost pornographic buttered vegetables.
With gigantic steaks proving tempting on the main course front, there's the temptation to forego the starters; don't. The Tamworth belly ribs, in particular, proved an erudite choice. The wobbly fat on the ribs came in equal measures to sweet, tender flesh - seasoned with a simple but addictive dry rub of salt, pepper and sugar. Perfect with some of the spicy shredded red cabbage provided on the side.
Drinks at the aforementioned bar include a tempting volume of cocktails and one of the best wine lists in town - reasonably marked up and charmingly housed in a dedicated storage area, behind a door with a pass code.
Space permitting, desserts are also worth investing in: a cornflake ice cream sundae was what breakfast is probably like in heaven, while a sticky toffee pudding took the genre beyond expectations, with a rich toffee sauce and a deceptively light body to the pudding itself.
The décor might have already invoked comparisons with the Titanic, though if the popularity of the restaurant during its 'soft launch' period and opening week is anything to go by, it'll stay afloat for some time yet.