157 Commercial Street
020 7247 7392
by Malcolm Eggs
If Commercial Street was a 1990s wall poster it'd be the type that on first glance looked like particularly revolting wallpaper but would, when you defocused your eyes just so, reveal a 3D image of a howling wolf, an Aztec pyramid or a giant bowler hat containing a crying, hexagonal eye. Equally, this key transit route on the London Inner Ring Road looks on the face of it exactly like, well, a major transit road on the London Inner Ring Road. But squint and focus on the middle distance and other things fade into view: a luxury hair salon, a man in shorts and cowboy boots, a shop selling Banksy prints. Suddenly you are in a 'creative village'.
Keep concentrating. There's something else - a doorway flanked by a menu, barely signposted, almost camouflaged against the tangled shadows of this stupid analogy. It's Hawksmoor, the best steak and cocktail joint in London, now serving a brunch aimed squarely at the customer who demands evidence of his agreeable position in the food chain.
This service is resoundingly delivered by their magnum opus the Hawksmoor Breakfast, £30 for two to share. The sausages alone contain three verses - oink oink, baa baa and moo moo - of Old Macdonald Had a Farm. Then you discover bubble and squeak laced with tender short rib beef, toast soaked in dripping, beans infused with pulled pork, a large smoked bacon chop, a huge cut of black pudding, fried eggs, fleshy mushrooms, explosive roast tomatoes and a neat hunk of cow bone with the marrow exposed. I am, this breakfast tells me, king of the whole pigging world. It tastes good too. The sausage is, as John Torode might yell, "packed with flavour" and the bacon chop is like the core of a star made entirely from umami. A sole stumble is the slightly stiff, flavourless black pudding.
Their extensive brunch booze list meanwhile has not so much been compiled as curated: we share a gin Bloody Mary washed down with a detailed account of the drink's history, as recounted by a barman as oracular and hungover as his role strictly demands.
We pay our £50 and I reflect that I have found the very definition of an event breakfast: elsewhere on the menu are a slightly chastened Full English, a lavish reimagining of a sausage and egg McMuffin and a whole section dedicated to Longhorn steak and eggs. When I finally work out how to turn breakfast writing into hard cash you'll find me cackling over a 1.1kg Chateaubriand with two fried eggs and half a lobster, a mere snap at £159.