Hawksworth Restaurant

Restaurant: Hawksworth Restaurant
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest/West Coast/Pacific Rim/Euro-Asian/Fine Dining
Last visited: August 4, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Address: 801 West Georgia Street (Inside Rosewood Hotel Georgia)
Train: Vancouver City Ctr Stn Southbound
Price Range: $30-50, $50+

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5
Service: 4.5
Ambiance: 6
Overall: 5
Additional comments:

  • Chef David Hawksworth
  • Fine dining
  • West Coast/Pacific Northwest cuisine
  • Popular to locals & hotel guests
  • Organic local ingredients
  • Sustainable/Ocean Wise
  • Seasonal menus
  • Daily features/tasting menus
  • Incredible dining room
  • Large private room
  • Stellar wine room/list
  • Lunch post
  • Hawksworth Cocktail dinner

Restaurant Hours:

  • Bar/Lounge area 11:00am – 12:45am (12:00am Sunday)
  • Mon-Fri Breakfast 6:30am – 10:30am
  • Mon-Fri Lunch 11:30am – 2pm
  • Mon-Fri Dinner 5pm – 11pm
  • Sat-Sun Breakfast 7am – 10:30am
  • Sat-Sun Brunch 10:30am – 2:30pm
  • Sat-Sun Dinner 5pm – 11pm

**Recommendations: Hotel Georgia Cocktail, Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio, 48 hr Beef Shortrib, Foie Gras Parfait, Kalamanzi Cream, Confit Pork Shoulder, Heirloom Tomato Salad

The local hype, rave reviews, and recommendations from my trusted “foodie” friends and food sources made it impossible for me to come in without expectations. I was anticipating my visit to Hawksworth, but refrained from checking it out when it first opened (a few months ago) because I always like to wait until everything settles down and adjusts accordingly. The wait was long, but it delivered and met my expectations.

Chef David Hawksworth’s award winning resume is one of the most celebrated in Vancouver’s culinary scene. The fact that he’s had his hands in the kitchen of one of my “top restaurants of the world that I must try at some point of my life” list, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxford, UK, was something I wanted to brag about on his behalf. He has also played his role at Vancouver’s award winning fine dining restaurant West, and in 2005 he was named Vancouver’s Chef of the Year.

The Hawksworth menu was very representative of Vancouver’s culture, tastes and ingredients. With an Euro-Asian take on several of the dishes it was reminiscent of The Market by Jean Georges, but with Hawksworth’s added interpretation of Vancouver. The concept made it ideal for tourists and locals to experience, hence why the restaurant attracts both.

It represents Vancouver well as a sophisticated food city with fine tastes and appreciation for cultural diversity. Sure there are a number of great “Pacific Northwest” or “West Coast” restaurants, but few that can deliver the concept so uniquely without confusing the diner.

In a big, but small city there are bound to be some crossovers in food ideas and cooking styles. With half the dishes I ordered I couldn’t help but to draw parallels with Chef Hamid Salimian, previous Chef at The Apron (who is now Executive Chef at Diva at the Met in The Metropolitan Hotel next door to Hawksworth). Both are extremely talented chefs, but I probably would have been more blown away if I was never introduced to Chef Hamid’s talent and food.

They both paid careful attention to the quality and treatment of ingredients, but with Chef Hamid’s artistic presentation and scientific approach to food, I was left breathless. It was more “competition food” in style and perhaps more risky, whereas Chef Hawksworth’s was not as challenging, but likely to be enjoyed and understood by more palates.

From what I tried, Chef Hawksworth uses minimal sauces, has a lighter flair, incorporates more of an Asian influence and understands seasoning, but is subtle with it. The cuisine is still more complex than simple, and it was nice to see him in and out of the kitchen. Chef Hamid is a bigger fan of deconstruction and molecular gastronomy, which I think would be too foreign at a restaurant like Hawksworth. Both are culinary geniuses in their own league, but both draw on ideas from culinary world masters, although they approach them with different visions and their own style.

I was expecting the cuisine at Hawksworth to be excellent with flawless execution, delivery and presentation, and generally it was, but there were still things that were better than others. There was some experimentation with foreign ingredients and techniques from other cultures, and it was a true approach to “fusion“. There wasn’t anything I haven’t really experienced before in some form, but that being said it was all being delivered at an exquisite level.

On the other hand, because the volume is so high, the food doesn’t feel as personal at times. The “mass production” is very well disguised, which also means it is likely that it is very consistent since it’s so controlled. This may be a bit picky, but for this caliber of restaurant I think it’s justified to note, but the artistic intention in the presentation didn’t always translate well. Nonetheless Hawksworth is still a hidden gem that is being highly praised for good reason and I would recommend it.

The dining room is one of the most extravagant in Vancouver, and it somewhat speaks higher than the food and even the prices. For that type of setting, I would expect impeccable food and service. The portions are smaller as expected, but the prices are actually more than reasonable if you take into consideration the whole experience. I’d perhaps go as far as to call it “affordable” fine dining. The staff was knowledgeable, although it depends on who I had, and the restaurant is almost always full, so it’s not an intimate experience, unless you book a private room. It’s rather energetic and lively, so just be prepared for what to expect.

Hawksworth takes the concept of Pacific Northwest or West Coast cuisine and represents Vancouver accurately through the food he delivers. Although my expectations were not exceeded (but I came in with them high), it’s still one of the best Vancouver has to offer. I will be surprised if it doesn’t get nominated, or even win the award in the fine dining category as Vancouver’s Best New Restaurant. Chef Hawksworth has re-established himself as one of Vancouver’s top chefs and this culinary institution is likely to become iconic for the city.

Images of the restaurant are taken from the Hawksworth Restaurant website – see gallery.

On the table:

Personally I think a restaurant of this style should provide complimentary bread and butter or even an amuse bouche. It was an additional $4 for the bread and butter. This isn’t a big deal, but I still wanted to make mention, just because many other Vancouver restaurants of this caliber do include it.

For ordering a significant amount of appetizers between two people I also would have appreciated one palate cleanser, even just a mini scoop of sorbet would have helped. I don’t think this is asking for too much and in some establishments, or any Michelin Star potential restaurants, it would be standard. It’s just that extra bit of service that separates the better from the best.

**Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio – 5.5/6

  • Charred avocado, cucumber, asian pear, yuzu, puffed rice $17
  • I love tuna carpaccio, but I rarely order this unless I’m at a Japanese restaurant. I’m a bit biased like that, with a “leave it to the people who know it best” attitude.
  • Well, thank goodness my dining partner suggested it! It was one of the favourites of the night.
  • If you like seafood, this was the best seafood appetizer out of what I tried.
  • It’s fresh, light and full of flavours and textures.
  • The tuna slices were fresh, shaved thin, yet still oily and buttery with a nice shine and they just melted in your mouth.
  • It was tangy from the yuzu, a bit spicy from the occasional slice of fresh red Thai chili pepper, and then a bit sweet from perhaps some mirin, followed by a smoky sweetness from the avocado cream.
  • It was different to see actual chili being used rather than chili oil, and I did want a bit of sesame oil to make it more aromatic.
  • The shichimi seasoned puffed rice was a creative alternative from the deep fried garlic chips, so I did like that. Although a wasabi powder seasoned puffed rice would have possibly been even better.
  • The dish had creamy, buttery, crispy and crunchy textures, but instead of micro greens I would be curious to see red shiso being used.

  • The slaw was a great change from the usual daikon.
  • I probably would have preferred the cucumber and Asian pear salad to be placed on top of the carpaccio rather than underneath like a surprise, and it just seemed like putting a blanket over something pretty.
  • The crunchy slaw was refreshing and cooling and it was a nice balance to the occasional bite of Thai chili pepper, which didn’t burn your tongue either. It was spicy, but not hot.
  • The avocado was essentially a mousse or a cream and the smokiness was infused throughout. It was apparent and noticeable yet not bitter.
  • It was almost the sauce or dressing to the salad and it added a bit of richness which was desired.
  • The smoky avocado component really impressed me and it almost made it seem like the tuna was prepared aburi (seared), but it didn’t overpower the fresh fish flavour either.
  • I’m going to add this, just because I’d say it at any other restaurant, but there was a little tiny piece of visible bar code on one of the vegetables. At a $10-20 restaurant I might not even mention it, and it’s not a big deal, but it was just a very unexpected “oopsie” for a place like this.

**48 hr Beef Shortrib – 5.5/6

  • Black pepper jam, honeydew, green papaya, peanut, thai basil, shrimp salt $16
  • This is probably the most talked about and “famous” appetizer.
  • “48 hr” made me say yes, and then “shortrib” made me say “now… please”.
  • Any menu with a description of something being treated or slowly cooked for more than 6+ hours, or anything “short rib” or “braised”, will likely show up on my table.
  • This was probably the most pricey appetizer due to portion, but it’s one of the best dishes of the night which means it holds value in terms of flavour.
  • I can’t say the muddy brown smear was a great idea. I have no problems with smears, but colourwise… this wasn’t the best way to showcase the sauce.
  • There were a lot of components and I’d call it a complex dish, but it works.
  • This was a fusion of French, Thai, Malaysian and Chinese. It was certainly eclectic and I wouldn’t even be able to say it was more flavours of one than the other.
  • Prosciutto and cantaloupe go together, so why not honeydew and beef? Adding the peanuts reminded me of satay beef sticks with peanut sauce, and then the green papaya was almost like Thai green papaya salad with beef. So there’s no combination that sounded odd to me in this dish, although they were uniquely brought together.
  • I highly recommend eating a little bit of everything in one bite.
  • Each component eaten separately is very literal in translation (besides the black pepper jam), but together it was a world of cultures and flavours in perfect harmony. Michael Jackson would be proud.
  • The black pepper jam with the shortrib actually reminded me of Chinese Hong Kong style steakhouses that make a Cantonese style “black pepper gravy” to go with your steak.
  • The black pepper jam wasn’t sweet and it was more peppery than anything and I think they even pureed some home made XO sauce, or dried shrimp in it. It was very pungent, thick and pasty and alone it wasn’t that pleasing.
  • The jam was spicy from black pepper at first, and I think there was perhaps some pureed ginger or lemongrass in there, but it was overpowered, but I could feel that stringy texture.
  • After the pepper flavour it was a bit tangy and sharp and even bitter, and the spice was almost like a Mexican spicy.
  • This short rib was very moist, tender and juicy, with a good amount of fat content that was well marbleized.
  • It was no doubt tender and the knife was only required on occasion, however it wasn’t my favourite style of short rib. I like my short rib a bit saucier and bursting with juices.
  • The compressed honeydew were in cubes, but I wish they were shaved into strips because I wanted it to be more incorporated into the dish rather than eaten alone. It didn’t suggest to the diner to eat it with the beef… and it did wonders for the beef.
  • The honeydew is what brought the burst of juicy sweetness which offset the black pepper jam, and just made the dish more layered and dynamic.
  • The green papaya brought crunch and texture, and it wasn’t sweet or tart, but rather neutral. It was refreshing to the spice and bitterness of the jam.
  • The nutty peanuts topped the dish off giving it that extra crunch and aromatic flavour.
  • I would have loved if the Thai basil was deep fried and I’d be curious to know what the flavour would be like if they used coconut milk to give the black pepper jam the creamy texture rather than regular cream.
  • Surprisingly the beef itself was not the highlight for me, it was the dish as a whole that made it so memorable.
  • If you like this, you might want to try the Baked & Grilled Whole Piece of Beef Brisket at The Jade Seafood Restaurant. It’s different and authentic Chinese, but it’s unexpected and may be of interest. The presentation is not appetizing, but it’s good!

Seared Weathervane Scallops – 3.5/6

  • XO, beech mushroom, edamame, crackling $16
  • This was a tricky one. It was playing with ingredients I’m all too familiar with, but in a new light.
  • It was a very commendable attempt at home made XO sauce, but when you’ve grown up with XO sauce, you’re very specific to what makes an excellent one. This was good, but not great. One of my favourite XO sauces is from Red Star Seafood – see here.
  • Personally I’m not a fan of using XO sauce as a primary sauce. The idea is almost like using Tobasco as a sauce, and now imagine serving that with scallops…
  • XO sauce isn’t nearly as spicy or sharp as Tobasco and it’s much more complex, well rounded and flavourful, but it’s just not something that should really be used as a sauce. Even if it is used to stir-fry green beans for example, it would be less and fried almost until dry, or perhaps combined with other sauces.
  • It’s usually more of a condiment served on the side and the amount is controlled by the diner.
  • The XO sauce would be great as a dollop here and there, but as a main sauce it just overwhelmed the natural sweetness and flavour of the scallops. It was also too salty and oily.
  • The XO is made of lots of dried shrimp and chilies and higher grades will use dried scallops too.
  • It is oil based which made for a very oily dish especially considering how much was used.
  • Together with the slimy slippery beech mushrooms it was just a natural “lip gloss” with every bite.
  • Another pet peeve was that the scallops were only seared on one side. The crispiness was on half and then then the other side was pretty much bare.
  • The shichimi (Japanese pepper) dusted crackling (deep fried pork rind) was also quite random since there was no play with pork in this dish.
  • I have a feeling there may be some fatty pork used in the XO sauce, but it wasn’t obvious enough to draw the parallel for serving a crackling with the scallops.
  • Eating the creamy scallop with the chewy and crispy crackling didn’t work, and eating the crackling alone just made it seem like a garnish.
  • On the other hand any time crackling is added to a dish… there is little complaint because it’s such a guilty indulgence and treat.
  • The edamame was firm and almost raw so it wasn’t quite sweet yet. I know they were continuing the Asian theme, but sweet green peas might have been better.
  • This dish was still good, but it’s not something I would order again.

**Foie Gras Parfait – 5.5/6

  • Green apple, walnut, brioche $20
  • This was the richest and most indulgent appetizer and it’s something I could have for brunch, but would tie me down for a while.
  • It needed more acidity and also more sweetness to break up that richness. A Riesling might have done the trick.
  • The foie gras was a creamed pâté and simply sliced upon serving.
  • Apple and foie gras are a classic pairing and it was topped with some maldon salt and baby herbs.

  • The toasted brioche is an upgrade from the traditional crostini, which is quite popular to serve along with foie gras.
  • It was served with 3 medium slices of probably the most perfectly toasted brioche I’ve seen. It made it even richer and more indulgent.
  • I could smell the butter coming off the warm toast as soon as it was placed on the table and it wasn’t crunchy like a crostini and not soft either, but somewhere in between.
  • It was very rich in flavour from the egg and butter and it was naturally sweet from the sugar, but still savoury from the immense amount of butter.

  • The pâté wasn’t that strong in foie gras flavour and that’s the only thing that bothered me.
  • It wasn’t greasy or oily or intense with foie gras flavour.
  • It was almost like a mousse and it was quite light and creamy, but I had to let it come to room temperature.
  • I thought it was served on a bed of oil at first, but it was actually the apple gelée. A classic match.
  • I was very pleased that it was served with so much apple gelée because it really needed that tartness to break up the pâté.
  • I would have liked the gelée to be a bit sweeter though as foie gras plays extremely well to sweeter flavours.
  • If the apple gelée was infused with vanilla bean seeds and sweetened with a bit of Elderflower honey I think it would have been over the top.
  • The walnuts were also a very important component and it was the only crunchy thing so I just wish there were more.
  • I know it’s the style to have only a few, but it just tasted better with more. I was tempted to ask for extra.
  • The walnuts would have been even better if they were a bit more candied and prepared confit too.

  • The foie gras cotton candy is actually an idea from Ideas In Food. It was the impressive X-factor to the dish.
  • I’ve had sun dried tomato cotton candy and Puffed Quebec Foie Gras from Chef Hamid, but this was new for me.
  • The foie gras cotton candy was slightly sweet in the beginning, and 2 seconds later it would be a tad savoury, then 1 second later it would be a bit sweet, and a second after that it would be rich leaving an aroma and residue of foie gras oil on the palate.
  • It didn’t leave a greasy feel, but it had an oily flavour, and I would have liked it a notch sweeter because the flavour was subtle for what it was.
  • A looser fluffier cloud of it would have been even better, but nonetheless it was interesting and very much enjoyed with the pâté.
  • I just want to emphasize that this is a foie gras executed as pâté and not foie gras, but to experience an incredible foie gras and possibly the best I’ve ever had, try the Seared Foie Gras with Apple Tart Tatin from La Belle Auberge.

Maple Bacon Sweetbreads – 4/6

  • Black truffle, kohlrabi, kumquats $15
  • This sounded great on paper, but all the flavours were a bit muted and muddled when eaten all together.
  • It was good, but compared to everything else, the flavours didn’t come through.
  • It just didn’t seem rich enough and with the ingredients I expected it to be.
  • The black truffle I could barely taste and it really needed some truffle oil. If truffle is in my dish I usually want to be able to smell it when it’s 2 feet away from my table.
  • I would have forgotten about the black truffle if I wasn’t looking for it, and even then it was still hard to find, besides the fact that I could see it as a dollop of cream sauce.
  • The sweetbreads were very tender, soft, silky, moist and delicate and its flavour is very neutral if you’ve never had them.
  • It’s almost a cross of chicken wing meat and chicken wing fat, but it’s actually veal pancreas and giblets.
  • It’s not chewy, but perhaps a bit gelatinous, and it has no game flavour.
  • The sweetbreads were very well seasoned, very lightly battered and fried crispy.
  • It reminded me of the crispiness you would get from Chinese style honey garlic deep fried pork ribs. I loved the textural contrast.
  • The maple was faint, but it brought a sweetness and I wouldn’t have minded it to be a bit sweeter.
  • I didn’t really see any bacon, but I could taste it somewhere in the background, but I did want to see it too.
  • The kumquats were minced on top of the sweetbreads and it gave a bitter rather than bright fruity flavour.
  • A little bitterness is nice and expected, but this was quite bitter and I wish it was a candied confit kumquat topping.
  • The celery foam didn’t really sound right in theory or flavour, and as expected it was almost like foamy water, and I would have preferred it sweeter.
  • There were some firm green peas which sweetness hadn’t developed yet, and grated kohlrabi, which tasted like daikon, and it didn’t do anything for the dish.
  • There was so much going on, but really nothing was happening because none of the flavours were strong enough when combined.
  • Still very good, but just a bit too scattered and separate.

“For Sharing” Stuffed Quail (Daily feature)5/6

  • Quail stuffed with cous cous apricot, figs and sausage with summer vegetables $80
  • The regular menu features a “For Sharing” 22oz dry aged rib eye for $76
  • Finally it was time for the entree, which came with quite an entrance.
  • This was the daily feature and it was fine dining comfort food at its best.
  • This was a Moroccan, Lebanese and Middle Eastern inspired stuffed quail.
  • It was quite the presentation, but I do wish the quail was cooked in the pot rather than just served in the pot for presentation’s sake.

Stuffed Quail – 5/6

  • It was stuffed with cous cous dried apricots, quince, dried figs and house made Merguez sausage.
  • It was likely braised and sous vide and I would have loved if the outer layer of skin was crispy instead of soft all round.
  • The outer layer was actually quite fatty and at times a bit too gelatinous and chewy for my tastes. A little fat is good, but this was a bit thick.
  • The meat was incredibly tender, juicy and moist and the natural sweetness of the quail was brilliantly matched with sweet dried fruits.
  • I almost thought it was stuffed with raisins at first and the apricots were minced, but noticeable, but the dried figs were almost forgotten.
  • I think a fruit like Persian dried red barberries would have been an excellent addition for that missing tartness.
  • Most of the filling was composed of cous cous and Merguez sausage and it wasn’t mushy.
  • Merguez sausage is an African sausage made from beef, lamb, cayenne and spices and it wasn’t gamey or very spicy in this case.
  • It was very moist, crumbly and very fatty that it almost melted and blended in with the rest of the stuffing.
  • The vegetables were naturally presented and cooked perfectly.
  • Thumbelina carrots, baby zucchini, a couple turnips and a few fat slices of Japanese eggplant made it almost seem like a winter vegetable dish, but not like a stew.
  • A good addition or combination would be juicy wild mushrooms, sweet green peas and fire roasted cherry tomatoes for some acidity too.
  • I must give a shout out to the eggplant because that was phenomenal.
  • You would push it to the roof of your mouth and take one chew and they would squish and just melt away and turn into cream.
  • They were so tender and bursting with juicy flavour like smoky cumin and lemon and it just absorbed so many flavours and spices. It was a very memorable part of the dish.

  • Quail Au Jus Reduction or Demi Glace (?)
    • It was an incredibly syrupy and thick reduction that had to be served on the side because it was so rich and intense with flavour.
    • I used it generously, but I didn’t need to either.
    • It was almost like a meaty caramel sauce with chocolaty notes, and likely reduced port to make it so intense with deep and sweet flavour.
    • It just coated your mouth and the flavour was complex and well layered with quail juice and good quality wine.

  • Cous Cous with Duck Leg Confit – 5/6
    • This part really reminded me of Chef Hamid’s Spiced Duck Confit meets his Lamb Duo at The Apron.
    • This was the side component to the stuffed quail.
    • It was cous cous with green peas and tomatoes with aromatic mint and bright lemon zest served with a prune puree and duck leg confit.
    • The addition of peas is not traditional for cous cous, but it did add colour.
    • It was a very well seasoned cous cous and perhaps boiled in stock. I did want it to be a bit crispy like Persian rice would be.
    • It was a bit dry and crumbly, however I understand why it was drier, and that’s because it was served with duck leg confit.
    • The duck leg confit was finely shredded and naturally very oily in texture so it almost balanced out the drier cous cous.
    • It was dry and jerky like, but sauteed in lots of duck fat so it helped to moisten up the cous cous.
    • The prune puree was very potent and strong with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and I think cumin.
    • It was very thick, sour and sweet from perhaps some added dates.
    • The stronger flavours of the prune puree played well with the naturally prepared duck confit and brighter flavours of the cous cous.
    • It’s a very Middle Eastern dish and I do which there was some pistachios or walnuts for an added crunch which was missing.
    • The cous cous and duck confit is where I used the side of sauce quite liberally.

Desserts

I’m always pleased when I see an official pastry chef at a restaurant. It’s a big investment, and I value it, but of course I would since I love desserts.

Wayne Kozinko is the pastry chef here and I’m not sure if he crossed paths with Chef Hamid Salimian at The Apron, or if they somehow worked together, but their styles were very similar. The presentation was approached differently, but there was certainly some mutual influence. I know Chef Hamid isn’t a trained pastry chef so I think he may have picked up Chef Wayne’s style, or they share the same inspirations, but regardless I sensed the similarities in ingredients and theory.

Part of me does wish there was more continuity between the savoury and sweet menu at Hawksworth. It just felt a bit separated because the savoury menu had so much Asian influence that I was hoping to see that follow through. A few things on the dessert menu didn’t work as well as I hoped, but I did love the focus on texture and various components and details. At times I did want it less bitty and more whole, but I still enjoyed it and I think $8 for a dessert at a restaurant like this is very reasonable.

**Kalamanzi Cream – 5.5/6

  • Buttermilk, almonds $8
  • This was a pretty stunning dessert to eat.
  • Kalamanzi, or kalamansi, is a Filipino orange that tastes like a lime.
  • It was a fruity choice and tart enough to be a palate cleanser, but sweet enough to be a dessert, which is essentially the perfect last course.
  • The textures were beautiful and if anything I wouldn’t have minded a little more of a liquid aspect whether it was in the form of gel liquids or more sorbet.
  • I can’t say I was keen on the presentation of the kalamansi cream which was almost like an obviously pre-molded gelée that sat a bit long.
  • It fell a bit flat, literally, but the flavour popped and made up for it, although some kalamansi zest would have been great.
  • The kalamnsi cream had an intense tang and zing followed by a sweetness. It tasted like real fruit juice and the flavour was of kalamansi and almost passion fruit and orange. It was very fruity and delicious!
  • It would be nice to see the kalamansi cream as a multi-layered or dual layered terrine with a pure fruit gelée to give it some texture and contrast. Or I wish the cream was lighter and fluffier and more whipped like a mousse, or even creamier like a creme brulee.
  • The flavour was there, but texture wise there could have been more done to develop it.
  • The buttermilk was executed as a sorbet and I was told it was a creme fraiche sorbet, but it does make more sense as a buttermilk sorbet because it was much lighter and not as thick, creamy, or rich as creme fraiche might be.
  • The sorbet was amazing and it was so refreshing, light and cooling and I loved it. The only thing is that it needed more of it to finish the kalamansi cream.
  • I can’t say I was keen on the meringue, but I did love that he showcased two types of meringues. An Italian style whipped meringue and then the American style meringue.
  • The caramelized Italian meringue wasn’t crispy on the outside and it would be great if it was topped with shards of creme brulee for that added crispiness.
  • The inside of the Italian meringues were very fluffy, airy, light and creamy, but the texture was off and it was powdery. The sugar crystallized so the execution was a bit off and the texture was grainy and not smooth like it should be.
  • The American meringue I’m actually not a fan of in general. It was crispy on the outside, but not soft like a marshmallow on the inside and it was a bit dried out, but not dry.
  • It is considered dried out for an American meringue cookie though. These were too sweet as they usually are, so I just left them.

Dark Chocolate Cremeux – 3.5/6

  • Cherry, pistachio $8
  • All the ingredients sounded right and I loved everything being used, but it just didn’t come together as well as I expected and I found it a bit too deconstructed.
  • I enjoyed each component on its own, but when eaten all at once the only thing I could really taste was the chocolate and then maybe a bit of fresh cherry juice.
  • The pistachio cake reminded me of the Dehydrated Pistachio Tea Cake at The Apron, but I liked this version better.
  • This cake was a very fluffy, light and airy soft sponge cake and it was barely sweet with just the faint aroma of pistachio, but no pistachio texture or crunch.
  • It was almost bread like and it was a bit stretchy rather than cake like. It was a bit Asian in style.
  • I didn’t know if I was supposed to eat the cake alone or dip it in the chocolate and it was all a bit scattered for me.

  • I can’t say I was a fan of the display of the chocolate cremeux which was presented in two brown logs.
  • The chocolate cremeux almost tasted like milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate and it was sweeter than expected rather than bittersweet.
  • There was a lot of cream and for me that kind of took away from that “dark chocolate” aspect. It pretty much tasted like a mousse, but a bit denser.
  • I was hoping for actual shavings of chocolate or some real chocolate to showcase the quality of chocolate they’re using.
  • The vanilla jelly was a mix of vanilla scented sago (tapioca) and pieces of jelly, and they were infused and coated with lovely vanilla bean seeds, but got completely lost when eaten with everything else.
  • The candied pistachios were a nice touch and they weren’t that sweet and actually a bit soft and I wouldn’t have minded them even more candied and crispy.
  • One of my favourite parts was the almond crumble which was basically a very rich and buttery almond shortbread cookie that was crunchy yet soft and almost like those Persian chickpea flour cookies or Chinese almond cookies. They were crunchy, but the crumb was so fine and tight like shortbread that it melted away easily.
  • There was just a lot going on in this dessert and the texture was great, but the flavours were lost.
  • It was almost too little of each thing and the stronger flavours just dominated all the delicate flavours.

Complimentary House made Raspberry Marshmallows & Apricot Jellies

  • Raspberry Marshmallows5/6
    • The raspberry marshmallows were soft, light and fluffy and perfectly made with the flavour of fresh raspberry puree without seeds of course.
    • They weren’t too sweet, and for what they were, they were perfect.
    • The best house made marshmallows I’ve had were from The Apron – see Foie Gras Marshmallows. It’s very different, but if I’m in the marshmallow category, I had to highlight it.
  • Apricot Jellies4.5/6
    • These were incredibly fresh and it tasted like fresh pureed apricots.
    • They were soft and almost creamy, not chewy or sticky at all and just incredibly rich with fresh apricot puree.
    • It was coated with sugar crystals and perhaps a hint of nutmeg, for a mild fall spice.
    • It was a bit sweet for me since the apricot was sweet enough as is, but still perfectly made.
  • It’s a simple gesture, but fabulous way to end a meal to showcase the local summer fruits of the season.

Cocktail & Bar Menu

A few evenings later (August 6) I returned to Hawksworth with some friends and enjoyed their lounge. Here’s a few things from their cocktail and bar menu. See my post on their cocktail paired dinner here.

**Hotel Georgia Cocktail6/6

  • Circa 1945 – plymouth gin, orgeat, fresh lemon juice, orange blossom water, egg white $11
  • It was named Best Cocktail in 2011.
  • I’m not a big cocktail drinker, but this is definitely not to be missed whether you’re a cocktail drinker or not.
  • It’s their signature drink inspired from an old recipe and it goes down way too easily, but it’s still not too “girly” and stands up as a real cocktail.
  • It was super frothy and light and tangy, but not tart.
  • It’s not as sweet as a dessert cocktail either and it’s an ideal starter drink.
  • It was very aromatic and almost coconutty and it was from the almond notes in the orgeat.
  • It was refreshing and floral, but not soapy.
  • The scent of fresh nutmeg grated on top was the perfect accent to a perfectly well balanced drink.
  • It was almost like a lighter, less creamy and rich, more citrusy Pina Colada, with a foamy whipped egg white meringue to give it texture.
  • It almost reminded me of the tangier version of the “Bronze” Cinnamon Brûlé and Granny Smith Apple cocktail from the YEW Restaurant at The Four Seasons across the street.
  • See the Hawksworth cocktail pairing dinner I went to here.

Puffed Pork Crisps – 4.5/6

  • $7
  • I can’t think of one healthy thing about these, but that’s why they’re so delicious.
  • It’s deep fried pork rind sprinkled with Japanese shichimi pepper seasoning.
  • It’s the same garnish used in the Seared Weathervane Scallops appetizer above and it’s a very popular and traditional Latin snack.
  • It’s almost like the pork version of a shrimp chip, but it’s much richer, more oily and a bit chewier.
  • It’s more puffy, light and crispy instead of thin and crunchy, and the texture if much lighter than the flavour and you’ll feel it after 3-5.
  • It’s served with a Sweet Thai chili sauce for dipping.

Triple Cooked Frites – 5/6

  • Harrisa Aioli $5
  • These are hearty, substantial and filling thick cut fries.
  • The fries are triple fried and very crispy and they almost seemed lightly battered like fish n’ chips, but I think it’s just the natural potato starch that layers and fries up like a batter.
  • They’re very well seasoned and not too salty and I’m pretty sure they’re just Russet potatoes. They’re light and fluffy, but very starchy yet moist in the centre.
  • It was just like a deep fried baked potato as suggested by my friend.
  • I’m pretty sure it’s how they make their hashbrowns for breakfast/brunch too.
  • The dips (left to right) were aioli, harrisa aioli and ketchup.
  • I expected the ketchup to be house made and the aioli to be truffle aioli and the harrisa aioli tasted like a tangy spicy cayenne yogurt dip, but it wasn’t that spicy at all. It just had a little bit of heat.
  • The fries are a win, but I think the condiments could step it up for this kind of establishment.
  • I think my favourite fries are still the triple fried fries at The District – see here.

Hawksworth Beef Burgern/a

  • Applewood bacon, cheddar, pomme frites $18
  • It’s not a big burger, but it’s still substantial. It reminded me of the old db Moderne Burger with a small bun, but stacked high.
  • It had no foie gras or truffle, which is expected for gourmet burgers coming from restaurants like this, and I’m still curious to give it a try.
  • The pomme frites were the same as the Triple Fried Frites above.

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