The Kitty Hawk, Moorgate
Opened in late 2016, The Kitty Hawk flew into London and quickly established itself amongst City commuters as a popular after-work drinks venue and fine dining escape. The venue occupies 11, 13 and 14 South Place, London EC2 and is owned by Wright & Bell, a duo behind what they call 'The Department Store of Dining'. Peaked my interest? Definitely!
The outside could indeed resemble a department store with its sharp glass edges like a shop-front window. I like a bit of window shopping myself, but the only thing I could see from outside was two rooms full of jolly stockbrokers, investment bankers and other City folk getting their bar fix at 'almost-acceptable-time-for-finishing-work and-drinking' o'clock from 2pm. Either work is must be so boring that they've found the first place that looks open for a pint or they've become a fan of The Kitty Hawk and brought the rest of the office with them for that important afternoon 'meeting'. From its beautiful appearance and impressive look at first glance, it's likely the latter.
Huge brushstrokes spanning the wall of heavy blue, white and gold with drips tease guests in their own dining area near to the kitchen. And if chaotic contemporary art isn't quite to your taste, the stunning white marble counter with art deco lamps facing the open kitchen offers diners the chance to peek at the chefs cooking in front of them.
The interior is undeniably breathtaking; designed by Russell Sage Studio, the design plays on fiery bursts of colour through neon lights against hard metal layers emerging above the two bars on the ground floor. Below, in the Steak and Seafood restaurant, the warm hues are still alight but contrasted with splashes of blue. The paintings on the wall downstairs were some of my favourite and if I had that kind of money, I would have asked ‘how much?’ But alas, I'm not quite there in my life just yet. I can just about afford the food, so I'll tell you all about that!
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We sampled a selection of canapés, as would be served at one of their private events in the semi-dining bar area. You have a choice of seats by the bar or surrounding it with a gorgeous centrepiece fire in the middle. The presentation of the canapés was fun with little bites full of different textures and flavours – salmon tartare and pork belly were notable favourites from these. The bar menu offers playful and fun choices of drinks too with a particularly teasing gin menu named ‘The Seven Deadly Gins’ as well as superb cocktail selections under Kitty Hawk ‘Flyers’, ‘Classics’ and ‘With Bubbles’.
Downstairs in the dining room, we settled in on plush chairs by the wine cabinet facing the chefs at work. From the starters, it was a simple decision. Salmon wins for me every time – and so I chose Salmon Gravadlax (£11.50) which offered small parcels of moreish fresh smoked salmon. However, it took me a while to choose my main course because there’s really a great selection of different meats. Are you ready? There's Lamb burger, British 8oz lamb rump, duck leg, The Kitty Hawk beef burger, Chicken breast, poussin (baby chicken less than 28 days old), Mixed Grill, Salmon, Sea Bream, Cod, a Suckling Pig to share and then two vegetarian dishes.
The number of restaurants I’ve visited who serve the same ‘roasted aubergine and tomato’ dishes for the minimal vegetarian options, I saw it on the set menu of an Italian restaurant in Clapham Common last weekend as the only vegetarian option on a set – and it kills me slightly! I think with all the incredible food trends that are going on at the moment that these vegetarian options could be more exciting, even if it is a restaurant focusing on delicious steak and seafood. It should almost just slip into the rest of the menu without having it's own section. The British Council cited that 5.7 million of the UK population now call themselves a ‘vegetarian’ and it’s likely that if you’ve got a group of meat-eaters, at least one person could be vegetarian. As someone who can’t eat much gluten anymore, I still had a lot of options on my plate though!
My guest chose the Fresh Brixham crab salad as his starter which was served with a toasted rye wafer and spicy chilli mayonnaise, shaved fresh pear and garnished with micro red vein sorrel and lemon (12.50). He said it was fantastic; very fresh, light and an excellent starter.
The Sirloin steak I ordered was juicy and delicious and I chose a Bordelaise sauce made from a red wine reduction and bone marrow to accompany it. My guest ate and adored the Kitty Hawk Mixed Grill (below) with an Ashdale 4oz minute steak, grilled West Country lamb chop, sweet cured gammon, Ramsay of Carluke award-winning black pudding and a Cumberland sausage ring, served with tempura onion rings, a home-smoked tomato and a duck egg. (£29.00)
There’s a great range of desserts to complete your evening at Kitty Hawk: decadent chocolate cake, homemade crumble, berry meringue, lemon tart and the Kitty Hawk sundae. But if you’re looking for something a little more forgiving, you might struggle a bit with all the sugary sweet temptations on the menu. I would have loved to have seen a coconut panna cotta or a dessert that was free-from, with a bit less sugar, similar to what I'd seen at my experience at the at Indigo at the One Aldwych Hotel. However, we tried the lovely Kitty Hawk Sundae which was pure indulgence and a great mix of honeycomb, chocolate and ice cream!
We had a really wonderful visit and both my guest and myself loved the excellent service (which friends of mine who visited following our trip reported) as well as the location, food and atmosphere! Their breakfast meetings in the private dining room (where you can call on an old telephone to call for orders!) sound like the right way to start the day and I’m looking forward to visiting their café soon!