Foxlow, Clerkenwell

Foxlow Location

It’s rare that I get to review a restaurant ‘hot off the press’. No celebrity or Michelin star openings for this reviewer. I’m not cool enough.

But my man about Soho, Tom, is cool and very C list to my Z, so I snapped up his suggestion to try out the Hawksmoor boys’ new St John street offering, Foxlow.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. The original Hawksmoor is one of my favourite London restaurants, but it’s not for the feint of wallet. Or to Tom’s point, it’s a commitment. You’re there to eat, drink and spend big.

Foxlow might sound like a commuter belt suburb (or worse, an estate agent), but its actually a beautiful gastropub-style brasserie with a simple menu that is relatively easy on your budget.

The simple menu splits its mains between slow-smoked, and charcoal grilled, and roasted. So dishes such as Iberico Pork 'Pluma' (a breed of free-range pig) to Ten Hour Beef Shortrib with Kimchi (surely this year’s cooking accompaniment) feature, alongside the requisite offering of, steak. And with prices sitting in the mid-teens mark, it's all very affordable. In a London sense, anyway. Both Tom and I were on pre-Christmas diets (it's an age thing), so we had the Eight Hour Bacon Rib with Maple & Chilli and Monkfish with Chermoula (a north African marinade) for mains.

I’m not normally a fan of bacon (sacrilege, I know), and ribs always seem like they’re going to be messy. However, that eight-hour cooking time clearly pays dividends, as bacon dropped off the rib and was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. A warning though: it’s a big dish, so make sure you’re hungry. The monkfish was cooked perfectly moist, and enhanced by the paprika, cumin and garlic flavours of the marinade.

From the pudding list, I found the cherry pie hard to resist. Perhaps it’s a consequence of my Twin Peaks influenced youth. It was rich in cherries without being too sweet or bitter. Perfect, in other words. Sensible Tom went for the cheese, which were of the Neal’s Yard variety and did what they said on the box.

The other diners were from the Clerkenwell design set, and visiting foodies. They were a world away from the City carnivores that frequent the Hawksmoors. The waiters were good looking, hip and very good at their jobs. A great combination.

Another, much better food writer than me, wrote that Foxlow was the Hawksmoor for these austere times, or words to that effect. I’m not sure that’s right. Foxlow is a different offering altogether. Unlike me, or dear Tom — and in contrast to the burgeoning superchain that Hawksmoor might be — Foxlow is cool.