Thursday, July 21, 2011
Hungry for Hawksworth
Finally managed to try the latest buzzed about restaurant, Hawksworth, over the past two weeks but only for lunch, haven't had any luck with dinner yet. But after these two lunches, though I am still curious to try it for dinner, I'm not overly eager to do so. It's not the food, wait to the end of the review for the real reason I won't be back for a while.
During my first visit, I ordered the special of the day, which was a steak salad. I didn't catch the price, but for a steak salad, there was more steak than salad. The greens were lightly dressed, and I liked how the meat was placed alongside it, instead of plopped on top, making for a more elegant presentation. I really enjoyed this and it's what made me plan a return visit the following week. Oh, I don't recall what the smear of orange was, but I'm not really a big fan of smears.
The following week, I went back for lunch again, this time, I wasn't on the clock. I started off with a drink...as all good lunches should...their Hotel Georgia, a modern take on the gin sour. It starts off with an egg white, and then you add some some gin, lemon juice, orgeat liqueur and orange blossom water... give the thing a good whirl in the martini shaker with some ice, and then serve it after double-straining it. Dust with some nutmeg, and you've got a floral and frothy beverage. So good!
The first dish to arrive was the Morel Orchietti. It is supposedly served with brocollini, chili, parmesean and fennel crumbs. There was plenty of morels in the dish, as you can see, and the broccolini was there as promised, with the addition of fresh peas (which I love), but the chili and parm flavours were barely there. The orchietti was cooked to an al dente, and the small shape was a perfect accompaniment to the peas and morel bits. All in all a good solid dish, but not overwhelming.
We had also heard great things about the 48hr Short Rib, so we decided to give that a go as well. The accompaniments are black pepper jam, honeydew cubes, shaved green papaya and thai basil, as well as a few petals of edible lilybulbs and some sliced chilies as well. The short rib was cooked just right and the chilies and basil were a good blend of flavours for it. The green papaya and honeydew seemed a little odd, but I'm just not a fruit/entree person. This was the entire dish, and $16, it's a little on the steep side. Oh, and I am not a fan of smears...especially black/brown ones, if you get my drift.
The third dish we ended up ordering was their Oyama Prosciutto and Pear Panzanella Salad. It was the 3 Ps alright, served with smoked buttermilk chunks, pickled leeks (NY's Momofuku does this too), and mizuna greens. This was a dollar less than the short rib, but much more substantial. And although the prosciutto and pear were good, the panzanella was really oily. Reminiscent of the bread they put on the bottom of the bacon some buffets use to soak up the bacon grease. Yeah, and although you could tell the oil used here was olive oil, dousing it they way they did made it really hard to swallow. Oil would actually ooze out when you cut into it.
Another reason why I won't considering coming back for dinner, (in the short term anyways) is their Front of House staff. For my first visit, I booked a table for 6 and one guest was sick and didn't join us. When I told them that we would only be 5 today, they seemed completely flustered by the change.
On my next visit, I arrived early and was asked to wait in the hotel lobby since the lounge was full. I was 20 minutes early, so we sat for about 5 minutes and then decided to walk over to the VAG to see what their exhibit was. When we told the hostess our plans, she then informed me that she didn't actually "have" a reservation under my name. Had I not went back to her, would she have just left me waiting for 20 minutes only to tell me she didn't have a reservation for me?
At it turns out, I made the reservation under my company name, so it was all right, but shouldn't she have come over to the hotel lobby, where she told me to wait, and informed me of the "lost" reservation? And even when we returned on time, the two hostesses looked lost as to where to place us...pointing back and forth at each other. The more senior one just seemed bossy, while the junior one seems eager to please, yet helpless to do so.
For me, a dining experience isn't just about the food, it starts right at the moment I enter your restaurant and doesn't end until I leave.
I might go back for dinner, but will give them a few weeks to work out the kinks in service. Anyone else had similar experiences with the hostess?