I was really excited about both, but for slightly different reasons: Yauatcha was to be the going away party for a dear friend, and we had our first ‘friend-date’ there – she had never tried dim sum or used chopsticks – which made for an interesting evening! Afterwardsit became one of her favourite restaurants in London and she’s now a deft-hand at chopstick manipulation.
I’ve heard amazing things about Hawksmoor for a long time – and I like my meat. I also love Action Against Hunger, and I really admire the work they’ve done as part of the ‘Fight Hunger: Eat Out‘ Campaign and the Blagger’s Banquet.
But I was disappointed at both – although in both cases the food was delicious. So delicious in fact that I barely took any pictures. But service let them down: At Yauatcha this is the second time I’ve found them brusque, unhelpful and midly neglectful – such a shame for a returning customer. We had to flag them down whenever we needed anything and twice we were brought food meant for other tables.
At Hawksmoor we arrived on a busy Saturday night, a table of 12 for a birthday party, and we were one of 3 or 4 large booking. When our table wasn’t ready for 45 minutes (pushing a 9pm booking to almost 10pm) we enjoyed a free drink each from the bar. So far, so good. But our staters took a full 45 minutes to arrive and the mains another 45 minutes after that. The food was delicious and I understand the stresses of a backed up kitchen, but I also felt the waitstaff could have kept us better informed of delays. They were all friendly, but we felt a bit neglected at times.
I was also frustrated as I was very, very thirsty, and our waiter insisted on pouring it by the (small) glass. Which would have been wonderful, had the service been attentive – but I found myself waiting 30 or 40 mins at a time to get my water glass refilled. In the end I had to insist he leave the pitcher on the table so I could actually have 3 or 4 glasses in a row. When our bill finally came our first round of drinks hadn’t been comped and it seemed to be a bad evening at what seems to be a very excellent restaurant.
This is the second time Yauatcha has disappointed me with their service – the first time being when a friend allergic to shellfish was served a dish with prawn. When suggesting they should make it clear in the menu which items have shellfish she was told by the staff very rudely that she should have told them she had a shellfish allergy.
As for Hawksmoor – I’ll be going back – the food is too good to give up on it so easily. But I’ll go back in a party of two, on a weekday night.