I’ve enjoyed visiting Hawksmoor, albeit only intermittently, since the days when there was just one of what later became a mini chain of five; each new property to open serving the same impeccably sourced and delicious steaks, super and inventive cocktails and tasty desserts in a wonderfully individual, beautifully furnished, welcoming setting. Owners Will Beckett and Huw Gott created a wonderful brand; a sure bet if you ever fancied a damn good steak at someone else’s table.
In 2013 they sold a majority stake (geddit?) to investors but remained involved in the business, turning their efforts to launching sibling steakhouse Foxlow, which provides a similar offering to Hawksmoor but is aimed at a more local neighbourhood clientele. There are now four Foxlow properties – in Clerkenwell, Stoke Newington, Chiswick and Balham – and certainly on the night of our visit, the newest to open was doing a roaring trade.
Although I’ve seen Foxlow referred to as a less expensive sibling to Hawksmoor, I’d say that prices for the star of the show – steak – are pretty much on a par with Hawksmoor. Starters, sides, sauces and puddings are a touch less, though, but it’s not a huge differential. The vibe is more relaxed though, not that it’s overly formal at Hawksmoor, and the location of this branch close to a tube stop makes it handy for weeknight dining even if you’re not a local.
Just as it does at Hawksmoor, the beef is from native breed cattle reared by The Ginger Pig in North Yorkshire, the meat is dry aged for 35 or 55 days, depending on the cut. Seafood is caught off the South Coast and travels directly from Brixham every morning. Chicken is slow-grown herb-fed Yorkshire Ross. Charcuterie, cheese and bread are similarly carefully sourced.
Which means that whatever you choose from the menu, you’ll be in for a treat.
Burrata with Sorrel Salsa Verde (£7.5) is fresh, creamy and wonderfully matched by the citrus notes of the sorrel. A good example of allowing quality ingredients to speak for themselves.
Salmon Crudo, Chilli & Ginger (£7.5) is thinly sliced and lifted perfectly by a light gingery dressing, slivers of hot chilli and a scattering of micro herbs. Delicious and disappears alarmingly quickly!
300 grams D-Rump 55 days (£18) is cooked medium rare as requested and is a truly delicious piece of meat. (D-Rump, by the way, is cut from the centre of the rump). It’s served with a small bone marrow and onions, no vegetables included, so don’t forget to order (and factor in when assessing the prices of a main meal) your choice of sides. This is as good a steak as any I’ve had in the last year or two, and beautiful smeared with a very tasty Béarnaise, generous servings of which are £1 each.
We select a 250 gram Rib Eye (£21) from the board (because it’s a smaller weight than the 275 gram cut listed on the menu) and ask for it medium, to give the fat a chance to cook. It’s served rare, so we send it back. Not a bother, a new one cooked exactly as requested is back with us before too long. Never feel nervous to return a steak that is not cooked as you requested – even a good kitchen can get a steak wrong from time to time, especially a thin cut like this, and any good restaurant won’t baulk at changing it for you, as was the case here.
Our sides are a super soft Baked Sweet Potato (£3) and lovely Buttered Anya Potatoes (£3.5).
To drink Pete enjoys a 375 ml carafe of Foxlow House Red (£8.5); it’s odd not to see any hint of what kind of wine it is, but I imagine this allows the restaurant to switch in different wines more easily, and he deems it a perfectly satisfactory easy-drinking red. I have a Vietnamese Iced Coffee (£3.5) which would also make a nice after-dinner drink if you don’t have room for dessert but fancy something sweet and caffeinated!
The desserts list is full of temptations and I lament my lack of space for the Black Forest Brownie (£6.5) but decide instead to steal a few spoons from Pete’s Bourbon Caramel Soft Serve Sundae (£5.5), especially when it arrives with unexpected candied pecans which he doesn’t like but which I am happy to devour.
Is Foxlow the perfect neighbourhood restaurant? Yes. While the interiors may not be as lavish as those of elder sibling Hawksmoor, they are comfortable and attractive. Service is friendly and enthusiastic (to everyone, not just those of us invited to review). And the food, particularly the steak, is every bit as good. Certainly I’d love to have a branch near me (though this one is within easy reach of my current workplace). That said, £90 between two for three courses and only minimal drinks, remains on the high side for an everyday meal, although that line is, of course, different for everybody. But for a little splurge on pay day, or for those little celebrations of milestones achieved, anniversaries and birthdays counted, it’s spot on.
Kavey Eats dined as guests of Foxlow Balham.