Feast for the Eyes:
A Look Inside Hawksmoor Liverpool

While they have a reputation for their world-class steak, they're also known for securing beautiful heritage buildings for their venues. Hawksmoor in Liverpool's India Buildings is a perfect match.
Feast for the Eyes: </br>A Look Inside Hawksmoor Liverpool

The restaurant group, Hawksmoor, has a reputation for knuckling down beautiful heritage buildings with character, and for their choice of timeless design. Situated in the heart of the city centre and on Water Street, one of the city’s oldest streets is Hawksmoor’s Liverpool venue which falls nothing short of luxurious. The Grade II* status and striking features of the India Buildings become all the more interesting when understanding the attention to detail that was required when planning out the interiors for the space.

To find out more about the building’s transformation, we spoke with Mai-yee Ng, Head of Design at Hawksmoor. Mai-yee leads on the overall ambience of the restaurant group across the UK and the US. She has all the secrets of the design process, as well as the constraints they had to work with in order to retain the major elements and fixtures in the listed building.

“As a restaurant group, we’re always on the hunt for heritage buildings that are timeless. With India Buildings we hit the jackpot, and with it being listed, in part did bring about its own challenges,” she shares. The location was chosen for its prominence in a world-class city which Mai-yee says has been a “match made in heaven.”

this is a shot of Hawksmoor Liverpool dining area that captures the ambience of the venue this is an image of the velvet booths inside Hawksmoor Liverpool dining area

When asked about their ambition for the space and the ambience they were going for, Mai-yee explains how they worked hard to strike the balance between the restaurant feeling special, warm and comfortable. “Ultimately, we wanted to create a cosy atmosphere. You can turn up in your ripped jeans and flip-flops if you want, as long as you’re comfortable. At the same time, we also wanted the space to feel special, and if you ever get the chance to sit in one of our cosy velvet booths you will definitely understand.” This we can certainly vouch for.

There are subtle nods throughout the venue that show the transatlantic influence of the city’s links with the United States. From the art hanging in the New Yorker room through to the cover of the food and drinks menu; attributed to the renowned Dazzle Ships artist, Edward Wadsworth.

When visiting the New Yorker room, it felt like we had travelled back in time yet felt incredibly modern and stylish. “The room is a celebration of the people and places of Liverpool and New York, and includes nods to the architect of the India Building, Herbert Rowse, to Central Park and Strawberry Fields,” explains Mai-yee. And, it certainly feels like a room for celebrations. The leather dining chairs, elegant dark wooden cabinet, and careful selection of lighting make the room perfect for any special occasion; whether for a birthday celebration or a black-tie dinner.

this is inside Hawksmoor Liverpool, showing The New Yorker Room this is a close up shot of the menu covers, inspired by the work of Edward Wadsworth

Now, whether you’re in Liverpool, London, Dublin or New York; the quality of Hawksmoor stays the same, as do recommendations on what to get from the menu. No matter who you ask or what branch you visit, their steak is a must-try. Outside of each steak being done to perfection, their commitment to sourcing sustainable beef from UK farms with a focus on animal welfare makes all the difference.

And, if meat is not your thing, don’t worry. There is no budging on sustainability across the menu. Everything that’s on the menu, whether that’s the oysters, roasted scallops or Kohlrabi salad—Mai-yee’s particular favourites— are all fresh and locally sourced. In addition to those, the award-winning Sticky Toffee pudding is non-negotiable.

Sustainability is more than a concept at Hawksmoor, it’s part of the group’s DNA. As one of the founding members of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, Hawksmoor was also the first UK restaurant to be certified as a B Corp. “This means that we’ve been verified by B Lab and meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability,” Mai-yee shares.

When you’re sitting down for your lunch or dinner and take a look around before diving into the menu, the ambience is something worth soaking up. Naturally, the space feels exactly how you would want it to feel. Historic, elegant and homely. The timeless designs paired with the dim Art Deco-inspired lighting with pendants made out of recycled or reclaimed glass brings out a warm and sophisticated glow to the restaurant, bar, and—of course—the toilets.

this is the bar area in Hawksmoor Liverpool this is an image of Hawksmoor Liverpool's bar and shows the beautiful interiors and lighting used in the space

Though, achieving all of this was not easy and required some out-the-box thinking. “The lighting is where we faced one of the challenges with the building being listed. We were limited with rewiring for the lighting, so instead, we added battery-operated lights that need charging overnight.” When a constraint leads to results that look this good, you know you’re on to a winner.

The time and energy that has gone into Hawksmoor Liverpool can not be overlooked. Mai-yee and her team have achieved what—I imagine—could have felt impossible at the time when being told about the building’s specific requirements. The team certainly deserve a drink for this one, but what one?

For Mai-yee, it’d have to be the Tommy Verde; a greener take on his Tommy’s Margarita. “An ode to Julio Bermejo who, more than any other, grabbed tequila from the gutter and placed it where it belongs on the top shelf,” she shares, and as with everything here, they’ve considered those who prefer a non-alcoholic tipple. “We want our customers who don’t drink alcohol to have the same experience, so we’ve put a lot of thought into the creation of our non-alcoholic menu.” Her favourite? “It would have to be the Pineapple Soda or Water Street Fizz.”

After our visit, it was impossible not to feel inspired; the team have been able to transform a grandiose venue into a restaurant that could easily feel slightly pretentious and yet, it’s far from that. The interiors are elegant, the staff are incredibly welcoming and the food is delicious. We wouldn’t hesitate to come back here again and would recommend it to anyone in or visiting the city for a Sunday dinner, mid-week lunch or late-night cocktails.

*Disclaimer: Hawksmoor kindly gifted us a lunch to support this review of their Liverpool restaurant.

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