Andy Gemmell’s Drinks Cabinet
Hawksmoor, 42 West Register Street, Edinburgh
What is it? The first Hawksmoor bar and restaurant was opened in London’s East End in 2007 by childhood friends Will Beckett and Huw Gott. They now have eight venues across the UK with the newest opening in Edinburgh last month in the banking hall of the former Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters, on the ground floor of the newly opened Edinburgh Grand. The venue is stunning with a 170-cover restaurant and bar in the centre of the A-listed “building of national importance” that has been refurbished to make the most of its original features, such as the polished limestone-clad interior.
Interesting fact: One thing this group has always done well is take care of its staff. It has been in the top 50 Sunday Times Best Companies rankings for six consecutive years (and named the best restaurant company to work for in 2016). It has also won a threestar Sustainable Restaurant Association award, which is one of if not the highest you can get for this, and since opening has raised almost £700,000 for Action Against Hunger. The hospitality industry doesn’t have the best reputation for retaining staff but The Hawksmoor group has done more than many to change that stigma. Verdict: I have been to most of the group’s bars and restaurants over the years and I have never been disappointed. I was actually just passing to get the train and noticed it was open so popped my head in to have a look. Two hours later I left with a huge smile on my face. This is another great addition to the capital’s food and drink scene.
Drink: Unlike most restaurants, Hawksmoor puts as much effort into its drink offering as its food. Sure most restaurants have a good wine list but here they have it all – wine, beers, cocktails, the lot – and also the company has some excellent bartenders. I was delighted to see some familiar faces behind the bar when I visited, and was looked after very well. I don’t think I even ordered from the menu and the bartenders made me a plethora of amazing concoctions. I would recommend just going for a drink even if you are not eating.
Food: Hawksmoor has always been about making the produce the star attraction, buying the best that can be found and then keeping it simple. This philosophy has worked well down the years. The company has obviously put a lot of work into making sure the menu represents Scotland for its first venue north of the border. Dishes include Hillside hogget chops from a Highland cattle farmer the team here bumped into while on the Isle of Mull, Peterhead cod, cockles and seaweed butter, and Langoustine scampi. You’ll also find all the Hawksmoor classics on the menu.
Children: Kids welcome but don’t expect to find Turkey twizzlers or potato smiley faces on the menu.
Alfresco: No outside area that I could see.
Perfect for: Taking large groups of people. Because of the vast space it would be idea for a family get-together or celebration.
Avoid if: Vegetarians are welcome here but the carnivores will definitely appreciate it more.