Scotsman Review
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  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
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September 20, 2018

Hawksmoor, Edinburgh, restaurant review

Beat the blues and enjoy some stunning meat dishes with a trip to Edinburgh's Hawksmoor, says Gaby Soutar

Did you know that the risk of a heart attack spikes on Mondays? Proof indeed that it’s the rubbishest day of the week.

I always get the blues when Tuesday to Friday are looming over me like a criminal’s shadow in an episode of Scooby Doo. Zoinks.

Thus, I plan pleasant things to do, like eating. The only problem is, most restaurants are shut, though not Hawksmoor, the first Scottish branch of this chain beyond London and Manchester.

It’s in the A-listed former HQ of the Royal Bank of Scotland, on the ground floor of what is now The Edinburgh Grand.

This ballroom sized space already looks as appealingly worn as Fred Goodwin’s Gucci baffies, probably because they’ve cobbled it together with reclaimed treasures.

There’s a bow-shaped curved bar featuring panelling from a Glasgow townhouse, a pass made from mahogany radiator covers sourced from the British Museum, etched glass windows by artist Sadie McLellan, floors from a Blackpool ballroom, and science laboratory counters as tabletops.

It’s a nice place to be, especially on a blah Monday, though this wasn’t my first visit. I had been invited along a couple of weeks ago, not by Hawksmoor, but by a fancy fashion brand. Though it’s very expensive here, money seemed to be no object, dahling, and we were presented with almost every cut of steak.

It was all magnificent, especially the chateaubriand, which was as silky as the lining of this label’s calfskin handbags.

So, yeah, I can already vouch for all their red meaty stuff.

However, this time, in order to Bruce Lee those blues into the middle of next week, I went for the langoustine scampi (£12). It was almost a main course sized portion, with eight cocoons of silky sweet protein in billowing biscuit-coloured batter. Along with the obligatory lemon wedge, there was also a wonderful heavy-on-the-capers-and-dill tartare sauce.

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The other starter of hand dived scallops (£15), even at a fiver each, were glorious – huge, roasted and served on the shell, with a buttery and garlicky white-port-infused gratin that was toasted around its tideline.

My stomach was already at 67.3 per cent capacity, which was lucky, or I might have been disappointed by the lack of meat on the Hebridean lamb tomahawks (£19).

There were only four or five bites of plump and char-flavoured lushness, as I drew the line at sloshing my way through the fatty bone handles, though I did enjoy the nibbly caramelised edges. More like miniature golf clubs than axes.

This did come with a pleasant pea and mint salad, though you’ll be needing another side, or two.

It’s a shame that the chips – triple cooked (£4.50) or beef dripping (£4.50) – are OK, but not all that. However, we did like the iron-y as girders super garlicky creamed spinach (£5), which was smooth enough to spread on toast. There are lots of other sides to try, though this must be the only restaurant where one of them includes beef and bone marrow sausages (£4.50).

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Tempting, but the day I get sausages as a side dish, is the same day I swap my granola for pork scratchings with lashings of double cream.

We also tried the main of cast iron fillet steak with bone marrow skirlie (£28). This tile of beef, cooked to medium, was topped with a nest of transparent fried onions, satisfyingly gritty and rich skirlie and chopped parsley. Burly, and I appreciate the Scottish twist, though it’s hard to beat their unadorned steak.

For pudding, we shared the Ambassador’s Reception (£8.50, with 50p going to Social Bite) – a chocolate and hazelnut homage to the foil wrapped treat that is really spoiling us. It was like a gold leaf embellished chocolate pinata, stuffed with ganache, caramel and ice-cream.

I enjoyed it too much, and the way things are going, I may as well have ordered sausages as a side dish.
Still, even if it’s not great for your cardiac health, at least a visit to Hawksmoor is good medicine for the Monday blues.

Hawksmoor Edinburgh

23 West Register Street, Edinburgh (0131-526 4790,

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Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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