Hawksmoor Lite V1.0 | Foxlow, 69-73 St John Street, London EC1M 4AN
When we heard the men behind Hawksmoor, Will Beckett and Huw Gott were opening Foxlow – a new ‘neighbourhood’ restaurant, we immediately put it right high up on ‘The List’. The next piece of news to follow was that they would be offering slow-smoked meats and their supplier would be Ginger Pig, this catapulted it to the very top. In their usual style they offered 50% off during the preview days so we got in there quick. Yes we do prefer to let new places find their feet, but hey, this is by the Hawksmoor boys, it didn’t feel as necessary. Plus the 50% off offer was too good to resist.
Will said ‘For a while we’ve wanted to do a smaller, more intimate restaurant, the kind of thing we wish we had near our homes and where we could go regularly with friends and family. It’s a new restaurant, so we can finally use some of the many ideas we’ve had in the last few years, but it’ll still reflect the things we’re most passionate about – great meat from ethically reared animals, an interesting wine list, phenomenal cocktails and relaxed, friendly service from people who love what they do.’ Now Hawksmoor is pretty unbeatable, a standard of food and service that makes it near faultless, one of our favourite places in the world is the Spitalfields bar. We expected the same level of perfection from Foxlow.
The restaurant is in one of our favourite areas, nearby is Polpo, Bea’s of Bloomsbury, St.John, Lazy Bones and our amazing dentist Zero Seven, oh to live here. Once inside we found Foxlow to be a tad less masculine than Hawksmoor, a hint of Polpo perhaps with the white reclaimed tiles, they found theirs from London Underground. Technical drawings adorn the off-white walls, upstairs is red and black leather banquette seating, perfect for groups. The menu is surprisingly short, not that we mind that, it saves a hell of a lot of deliberation time. The blackboard with chalk scrawlings of steak cuts has been kept from the ‘other’ restaurant, alongside the familiar serving dishes. Service was chatty and attentive, we felt well looked after.
A small selection of wine is compiled by a guest supplier – on our visit it was by the very popular Sager + Wild, nice touch. I opted instead for a reasonably priced glass of Domaine Du Cros ‘Lo Sang Del Pais’ 2012 £4.50. Cocktails are varied and great, the Pickle Buck – rye, maple, lime, pickle juice and ginger ale £8.50 had the perfect balance of ginger and pickle juice. Whilst as usual, Ade chose the most ladylike drink possible – the Slush Puppy-esque Snowgroni – Dubonnet, cherry and grapefruit £7.50.
A starter of zingy Crispy five pepper squid £7 was delicious but the portion size looked a little on the mean side, a lonely looking plate. There was a mention of a salad bar on the menu which filled us with excitement until we found out it’s not self-serve, the staff do it. Shame, it would be great if it was a posh take on the Harvester’s salad cart, with real bacon bits! We chose a great combination of Baked beetroot with hazelnut and horseradish and the Vinegar slaw £7 as a starter.
Next up came the Ten-hour beef short rib with kimchi £16 – a glistening hunk of meat that slid of the bone perfectly, however it didn’t taste as smoky as I hoped, it was more on the buttery side. Thank god for the dollop of kimchi to add some oomph. The juicy Eight-hour bacon rib with maple and chilli £16 was better, perhaps a bit too much bacon alongside the Skin-on fries with bacon salt £3.50 – something which on paper sounded amazing but the reality of it was like smoky bacon Walkers crisps. The Sausage stuffed onion £3.50 should have been what dreams are made of, but a sad greyish limp ball turned up. Ade seemed happy with it though and ate my half too, he loved the peppery sausage meat and rich gravy.
After a ten minute break we found the strength to look at the dessert menu. We already had our eye on the Peanutella and sweet toast £5 which we spied on the table next to us. I went for the Bourbon caramel soft-serve sundae £5 which was the least exciting sundae I’ve ever come across, just a Nandos frozen custard style pile of not very creamy ice cream, sitting in a puddle of sauce. The boozy caramel sauce was fantastic, however the dessert deserved to have more about it. Ade’s was much more indulgent than mine, golden toast dunked into a Nutella jar filled with rich chocolate layered with nuts and finished with a sprinkling of salt. A lot more fun, and a lot more tasty.
We left feeling a little confused as to what Foxlow is and ever so slightly flat. Our heart remains with the Will and Huw’s original establishments and that’s where we’ll be returning.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday lunch 12pm – 3pm
and dinner 5:30pm – 10:30pm • Sunday 12pm – 5:30pm
Nearest station: Farringdon or Barbican