A gem of a restaurant in Kew
Hawthorn has only been open since February but it has already garnered a place in the Michelin Guide and is clearly a favourite neighbourhood spot already judging by how buzzy it was on a recent Friday night visit. The restaurant has a tough act to follow – it has taken over the site that was previously home to the much-admired The Glasshouse. It is now in the hands of chef Joshua Hunter, who also operates Joshua Hunter at Holland & Holland and has worked in such esteemed places as Kitchen W8, Murano by Angela Hartnett, and La Trompette. Hawthorn has kept the wavy walled backdrop of The Glasshouse and the vibe is fairly similar – refined yet relaxed.
The food is modern European with a focus on British seasonal ingredients. We were there to try the new festive menu, with Hawthorn shunning the usual turkey and taking inspiration from the typical sides that make up Christmas dinner, such as crispy sprouts and chestnut and sage pig in blankets served with an Iberico pork chop. It’s a fun twist and one that results in some tough choices – all the dishes sound utterly delicious.
Seated in the middle of the elegant dining room, we greedily eyed up what other diners were having. It didn’t help our decision-making. Amuse bouche arrived – simple and thoughtful, we enjoyed venison salami, a squash mousse and the most divine breads ever, including a sweetish bun cooked with beef fat. Cocktails were expertly made – we tried a White Negroni and welcomed the return of the Cosmopolitan (blame Sex and the City for this classic cocktail’s fall from grace).
My dining companion started with the tartare of Wiltshire Fallow Deer with smoked yolks – it was utterly divine and a highly accomplished twist on the usual tartare. I opted for a pumpkin veloute – this simple soup was stunningly elevated with pickled trompette mushrooms and had an incredible depth and balance of flavour.
A mainstay of high-end restaurants, there’s fillet of beef on the menu. But again, a great deal of thought has gone into the dish. A mushroom stuffed with short rib and Périgord truffle creamed potato took it to another level. Hubby went for the fish: fillet of turbot with Cornish crab, gnocchi and caviar beurre blanc. Again, it was well-considered and cooked perfectly, although the portion of turbot was on the small side.
Christmas dinner traditionalists will be pleased to see there is Christmas pudding for dessert. Here it is served with brandy foam and Guinness ice cream – I’m usually no fan of this particular festive favourite but this version had me stealing extra spoonfuls of my hubby’s dessert of choice. I went for the chocolate soufflé with orange curd and pistachio ice cream – light, fluffy, on the right side of rich and with little cocoa nibs adding interest.
There’s an excellent wine list, with a good range available by the glass. This made it easier to match our dishes, without feeling you have to compromise.
Hawthorn is a fabulous addition to the local dining scene. Casual, unfussy, but with a perfectly chosen menu for the festive season that feels full of celebration.
- The festive menus are priced at £55pp for three courses for lunch or £75pp for dinner. Closed from 25th – 27th December inclusive.
Photos: Tim Green