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Restaurant review - Hawksmoor, Deansgate, Manchester

PUBLISHED: 19:03 10 April 2016 | UPDATED: 19:03 10 April 2016

Meat on the menu at Hawksmoor  Photo by Toby Keane

Meat on the menu at Hawksmoor Photo by Toby Keane

Toby Keane Photography

Just how long can you age a steak? That thought occurred as I tucked into a 55-day aged rump steak at Hawksmoor in Manchester, writes Louise Allen-Taylor

Hawksmoor, Manchester city centre - photographed by Toby KeaneHawksmoor, Manchester city centre - photographed by Toby Keane

Steak and chips...it’s the past, but also the future. A year on from its opening in Manchester, I revisited Hawksmoor on Deansgate. We were dining at the end of February, which meant that when my main course had last drawn breath, the Christmas decorations might still have been up.

A quick Google later on introduced me to the new culinary sport of extreme ageing; some are now routinely ageing beef for 90 to 100 days, and other have pushed that particular envelope to beyond a year.

So Hawksmoor’s 55 days is not, in theory, excessive. But then my taste buds had already told me that, for this was one of the tastiest pieces of meat ever to pass my lips. And I knew it would be so even before cutting into it, for the very whiff of it arriving at the table assured me that this was beefy perfection.

The ethos of Hawksmoor is deceptively simple: take British breeds of cattle, allow them to grow slowly feeding on grass, age the meat properly and cook it just-so over charcoal.

Delicate dessert at Hawksmoor   Photos by Toby Keane Photo by Toby KeaneDelicate dessert at Hawksmoor Photos by Toby Keane Photo by Toby Keane

That plan plainly works. Having earned a reputation as London’s best steak house (they have five outlets in the capital) and having opened this Manchester restaurant a year ago, Hawksmoor’s next venture will be in New York.

You can buy various cuts of beef by weight - costing up to £13 per 100g of chateaubriand - but that rump was the cheapest steak on the menu at £18.50 for 300g, and certainly cheaper than beef which has travelled half way around the world to arrive on your plate.

I opted for a peppercorn sauce (a plentiful jug for £1), triple cooked chips (£4.25) and creamed spinach (£5) with the steak - all fine. My companion opted for the Hawksmoor hamburger, pronouncing it pretty exceptional.

Our starters had been a generous portion of smoked salmon with soda bread (£9.50) and the intriguing titled Ginger Pig belly ribs - two succulent slabs of pork with a salad pleasingly dominated by fennel.

Hawksmoor, Manchester city centre - photographed by Toby KeaneHawksmoor, Manchester city centre - photographed by Toby Keane

Our puds were apple pie with custard (£7) - very traditional and all the better for it - and a trio of salted caramel ‘Rolos’ (£4).

Housed in a former court building, Hawksmoor is not the first new arrival on the city’s dining scene to have an air of the Victorian gentleman’s club about it. You arrive in a cosy, underlit bar area, and go through to a large and imposing dining room with dark bluey-green leather bench seating and dark wood panelling.

This slight air of genteel fustiness is echoed in a drinks menu which, like a butler let loose with the theasaurus, offers ‘pre-prandials’ and a cocktail list themed around the Toper’s Timetable from 1874.

Hence Hawksmoor revels in being unironically the best of British, which in the wildly eclectic world of dining out in the 21st century turns out to be both old-fashioned and cutting edge at one and the same time.

Hawksmoor, 184-186 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3WB, tel 0161 836 6980, thehawksmoor.com

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