St John St is a busy street, and in a very good way. Home to St John’s restaurant (from Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver), and also wine bar & restaurant Vinoteca (across the road), with Bistro Bruno Loubet (which I have eaten at 3 times but neglected to blog, a huge oversight), and The Zetter Townhouse around the corner (one of my favourite spots for drinks and bar snacks). There are lots more and I could type all day, but my point is, that this isn’t an area that has been crying out for great new restaurants. This hasn’t stopped the Hawksmoor team from taking a stab at it, and given their pedigree (I am a fan of their Hawksmoor steakhouses and bar), I was curious as to what they planned to deliver and how. I knew that this wasn’t going to be another Hawksmoor, but I was expecting it to be quite meaty. And so it was. In a very good way.
The restaurant has a vintage feel to it, tall red stools line the bar and a long table opposite the kitchen, behind which smaller low tables line a banquette or are surrounded by brighter turquoise chairs. A salad bar stands proud outside the open kitchen, and a blackboard states the steaks of the day on the wall alongside. The menu, otherwise, has snacks, starters, slow smoked, charcoal grill & roasted and sides. The wine list features 45 bottles from smaller producers (with some curation from Hackney’s new wine bar, Sager & Wilde) and eclectic cocktails, craft beers & ciders and several non alcoholic options.
For starters we tried five pepper squid (£7) and baby back Iberico ribs (£8.50 & how can I not try those?). The squid was fresh with a firm bite and well seasoned with a lovely pepper crust. The ribs were rich but felt light, and with great smoky flavour. The meat came clean off the bone while eating them.
Iberico pluma – an incredibly delicious cut from the Spanish black Iberico pig – has been ordered so much over the few preceding days of the soft launch that it is already off the menu, so instead I went for the 8 hour bacon rib with maple and chilli (£16). This whisked me back to my Irish youth (we love pork and bacon), the tender pork was perfectly salty and rich while not being dominated by the supporting maple and chilli. Another lovely way to eat bacon, most people just think of back bacon or streaky, and we should explore more (which of course I am with Project: BACON). My friend ordered the 10 hour beef shortrib with kimchi (£16), which was a large rib with the meat already surrendered off the bone with some punchy kimchi on the side.
With our mains we had terrific bacon salt fries (£3.50 & um, yes, yes and YES), roast acorn squash with Moroccan spices (£4) and beef dripping potatoes with gubbeen and capers (£3.50). All terrific although the beef dripping potatoes were too much for me after such a feed of meat, I needed something fresher on the side, and the squash was perfect in this regard.
There wasn’t much room for dessert but we managed a cherry pie, with alcohol soaked cherries and a wonderful sugary crisp pastry on top. Soft serve ice cream was served on the side with a bright fresh cherry sauce.
To drink: a lovely Spanish white recommended by Sager & Wilde, which I sadly didn’t note but I will get details and update this post. It had great spritz and lime notes, perfect for lunch.
Foxlow impressed, even at soft launch. I sensed no issues, which is impressive, but Hawksmoor care as much about service as the food that they serve so it wasn’t a great surprise. I will be back, for pluma, cocktails and lots more from that menu.
Foxlow, 69 – 73 St John St, London, EC1M 4AN
I ate at Foxlow as a guest during the soft launch period. Foxlow is now open to the public.