Andy Gem­mell’s Drinks Cab­i­net

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Drink -

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.

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