Live From London: Hawksmoor Did Us Right

Richard Martin and Matt Rodbard are currently spending a few days in London, readying a forthcoming week dedicated to the city's food and drink. We'll be dropping in short dispatches when not sipping exquisitely dry gin cocktails.

It all starts with a shared Google doc. For weeks we've been tapping our friends, colleagues, writing staff and Twitter to hit us up with their London lists for eating, drinking and drinking some more. We're fortunate to have a lot of input on the subject. Thanks friends!

But it's fair to say that when you land at Heathrow after an overnight flight—all cranky and famished because Delta's cold chicken salad with strawberries and Kool-Aid vinaigrette "meal" was not cutting it—deciding where to begin out of over 100 places (thanks friends!) was no easy task. After checking into our respective hotels and showering back to life, we made the crucial call of where to go first. And, may we just say, it was a pretty brilliant move.

The Hawksmoor, located on a gritty stretch of Commercial Street in Spitalfields, is styled a bit like Peter Luger in Brooklyn, serving giant steaks with no-nonsense service. But unlike Luger, they offer a 12-page cocktail list of preprandial classics and Edwardian bridge drinks. The list is a really good read.

At around 3:30 p.m., we arrived and headed straight for the two-week-old basement Spitalfields Bar. It's a bit more casual, serving burgers and drinking grub like deep-fried short rib nuggets and poutine in a sharply designed room—all mirrors and white subway tiling.

And the two drinks we tried, our first of the trip, were perfect. Shaky Pete's Ginger Brew was gin, ginger syrup and lemon miraculously balanced with London Pride ale. Take that, dark and stormy! I went with a play on the classic British breakfast martini, made here with gin, Campari, lemon and marmalade. Our cocktail columnist Brian Quinn wrote about it in January.

In the end, we were satisfied and revitalized. Hawksmoor had done us right, setting us on our way to try of number of other spots on our first night. We'll go into far more detail during our upcoming London Week. Stay tuned for details.