Hawksmoor, a popular London steakhouse, is finally opening today at 109 East 22nd Street in a historic building in Gramercy. The highly anticipated opening takes over the lavishly restored United Charities Building and brings along with it the restaurant’s celebrated menu of charcoal grilled meats.
Originally slated to open last spring, the pandemic brought “tears and incredulity” from the opening team, recalls co-owner Will Beckett. He and childhood friend turned business partner Huw Gott kept a small staff in New York, until Hawksmoor could take a second shot at reopening. “Our passion for the industry, our restaurants, and for the cities we operate in is undiminished, but those things have suffered greatly,” Beckett shares with Eater. “It can all be built back better, and we want to play a part in that.” Hawkmoor’s first stateside location features a menu by Hawksmoor’s UK executive chef Matt Brown and New York executive chef Matt Bernero (formerly head chef of Minetta Tavern).
In 2006, the first Hawksmoor opened in London and it quickly evolved as a posh destination for meat lovers eager to indulge in sustainable meats accompanied by updated renditions of classics — a Parmesan dusted Caesar salad is studded with sourdough croutons and whole anchovy fillets, and finely chopped steak tartare mingles with shiitakes and espelette pepper.
In NYC, Hawksmoor’s new home had been closed for over a century. Built in 1892 as a headquarters for social service institutions like the Charity Organization Society and the Children’s Aid Society, the United Charities building has been restored to showcase stunning original features, including a 30-foot vaulted ceiling, elaborate crown molding, stained glass, mosaic flooring, and wood paneling. The 146-seat grand dining room in the former Assembly Hall was once used as a platform for civic pioneers, including Jane Addams, the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. A 50-seat wraparound brass-topped bar with reclaimed wood paneling and vintage hanging lights also offers plenty of space to admire the refurbished site.
While New York is no stranger to excellent steakhouses, Hawksmoor set itself apart for its conscientious approach to sourcing meats. The restaurant’s focus on ethical sourcing, from family-run farms and ranches across the nation, offers transparency in the menu. “We believe in farming methods that honor natural systems, increase biodiversity, and regenerate the land,” Gott says. Hawksmoor works with farmers in New York, Pennsylvania, and other New England states. Beef is sourced from cattle raised with “extremely high animal welfare standards,” adds Gott. That means no antibiotics, growth hormones, and steroids, among other harmful compounds, are in the meat.
Hawksmoor’s first U.S. restaurant will also highlight ingredients in the surrounding region. Opening dishes will include charcoal roasted scallops with white port and garlic, East Coast halibut with porcini sauce, and a veal chop with fried oysters and tartar sauce. Accoutrements like bone marrow gravy and anchovy hollandaise are also on the menu.
In true modern steakhouse fashion, Hawksmoor’s sides also have the potential to steal the show, like beef dripping chips (fries to Americans), macaroni and cheese, creamed spinach, and Jansson’s Temptation, an old school creamy potato casserole with anchovies.
Like much of the menu, the desserts will also meld retro dishes with popular ingredients, including a maple custard tart with crème fraiche ice cream, and a marmalade and bourbon ice cream sandwich.
The bar will serve specialty cocktails primarily using local ingredients and New York made spirits and beers. To supplement the wine list, Mondays will be a BYOB night with a $10 corkage fee. Sommelier Lauren Hoey champions small producers from around the world, curating a selection of new world wines from New York as well as bottles from the West Coast, Africa, Greece, and South America.
And at a time when restaurant employment is in a challenging place, the Hawksmoor team is prioritizing staff with several benefits, Beckett says. A career development training program, coverage of 50 percent of the monthly premium for medical insurance, 10 to 15 days of vacation plus birthdays off, paid family leave, military leave, and blood donation leave will be some of the worker incentives. Staff will be paid for their breaks at daily family meals and will be encouraged to wear their own clothes, rather than a uniform.
“Restaurants are really about people, and we’ve put a huge amount of thought into how to go about being a place that attracts talented, passionate people,” Beckett says. “We want people to come to work happy and comfortable...which we think is the best guarantee of good service for customers and happy careers for our teams.”
Hawksmoor’s hours will be open Tuesday through Saturday with the bar open from 4 p.m. to midnight, and the dining room from 5 to 10 p.m.