Words: Shamim de Brún
Much fêted London steak joint Hawksmoor has secured its first Irish location what was once the National Bank building, and homed the doomed Abercrombie & Fitch.
Hawksmoor was established in 2006 in London by Will Beckett and Huw Gott. In 2013 they secured funding and levelled up on their journey. There are now ten Hawksmoor restaurants – in Manchester, Edinburgh, London, and New York – Ireland’s will be opened in early 2023.
Somehow, Hawksmoor has maintained authenticity and likability. As a result, people are as excited by Hawksmoor arriving as they are irritated by Pret’s.
Hawksmoor is firmly established in a notoriously tricky industry. However, their international expansion hasn’t dampened critics or customer enthusiasm for them. Childhood friends Beckett and Gott, it is a business for life. As with many of our favourite restaurants, this duo had previously worked in bars and kitchens themselves before opening a joint together.
There was always something magical when people who have eaten, slept, breathed, and lived hospitality turn to running it. That combo makes a place taste better. You could spend thousands to break down the whys about it. But it’s probably because they have seen what doesn’t foster good vibes and have a passion for the work. Whatever they’ve done, it works.
Hawksmoor’s steaks all rest for fifteen to twenty minutes after leaving the grill. Which means that you can be waiting a while. Leaving steak to rest is crucial to its serving. Many places skip it in order to prioritise turn times and minimise wait times between courses. This one decision alone could be why the steak is so good, but there is more to it.
Their model is to offer high-quality, well-butchered beef to the people. They tasted a range of beef from all over the world until concluding that the best tasting steak was local steak. In addition, Hawksmoor has a strong focus on sustainability and local sourcing; Beckett and Gott will be sourcing Irish produce for the restaurant.
In the UK, Hawksmoor serves only ethically reared British beef. Their entry-level three hundred gram rump steak in their Spitalfields branch is twenty-five pounds. The Hawksmoor hamburger served only until 17:00 is eighteen. In America, they are dedicated to sourcing hormone-free cattle and biodiversity that promises “the best beef comes from happy cattle.”
Hawksmoor has also pledged to go carbon neutral, which is no mean feat for a steak joint. The restaurant group signed up to the United Nations’ Race to Zero’, intending to be net-zero by 2030. Last year they were awarded the maximum 3* rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, making it one of the most sustainable restaurant groups in the UK and America. One hundred per cent of its food waste is sent to anaerobic digestion to become biogas, and oil from its fryers being used to power vehicles.
There is talk about them not being able to find staff in the current hospitality crisis. However, if awards rea anything to go by, it’s a great place to work. The company has been ranked three-star Sunday Times Best Companies for eight consecutive years (in 2014 was the best restaurant company to work for), three-star Sustainable Restaurant Association award, as well as being involved in a variety of charity projects (predominantly for Action Against Hunger, for which Hawksmoor has raised/donated over a million pounds)
Steak isn’t a dish; it’s an institution, particularly in Ireland. We’re pretty well fattened with steak house after steak house in the city. We have our own butchering-oriented chains such as FX Buckley, independents like Shannahan’s, and internationally renowned chef-sponsored ones like Marco Pierre White. Do we have space to absorb another one? I reckon so.
We love steak in a firm one-for-all-the-family sort of way. We are the biggest consumers of red meat in Europe, or at least we were the last time it was surveyed in 2016. The stats say that we tuck into nearly three times as many red meat dinners as the British. So in all likelihood, an ethical, carbon-neutral steakhouse with a firm focus on locally sourced ingredients will garner crowds of ethical eaters who like a good rare fillet mignon. Yours truly included.
Overall, with endorsement from The Gastro Gays as well as a focus on sustainability, it looks like this steak house might even be a game-changer for the Irish steak scene, and that’s why the culinary hoosits and wootsits are all a flutter.
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