The Lowback is the beautiful new statement bar from Hawksmoor, located under the brand’s latest restaurant on a floating pavilion in Canary Wharf. We venture down to this destination venue to see whether the impressive team is on to another winner.
Hawksmoor – a hospitality legend
Within the hospitality industry, Hawksmoor is a name synonymous with greatness. Since the launch of its flagship Shoreditch venue in 2006, the brand has rightfully swept up countless awards and titles, including ‘Best International Restaurant Bar’ (Tales of the Cocktail), multiple Sustainable Restaurant Association awards, and ‘Best Company to work for – UK’ every year for a decade. A night out at one of its restaurants or bars is always going to be one of fantastic food, well-crafted cocktails, and friendly staff. So, when we heard that the team behind Hawksmoor was going to be launching its first major bar in over 11 years, we were beyond excited!
First thoughts – a destination bar with a “No D*cks Vibe”
The Lowback – London’s hottest new bar by Hawksmoor – is situated on a pavilion docked in a new neighbourhood in Canary Wharf, in the lower deck level of the brand’s latest Hawksmoor Wood Wharf restaurant. Floating on the water, surrounded by monolithic skyscrapers, the venue is a true statement piece. We approach the bridge to its entrance as the sun sets behind us, casting amber light over the water and shining glass buildings above. The reflection of the bar’s neon signage adds its orange hue to the gentle rippling glow, whilst we take in the uncharacteristic stillness of the often heaving streets.
The bar is already buzzing at 6:30pm, although not with the usual suited-and-booted masses that plague the glittering after-work venues around Canary Wharf. The crowd is mixed and laidback, the setting at once dynamic and intimate, and the atmosphere miles away from the business-like demeanour that permeates the cityscape outside.
The decor itself is stunning – jewellery box interiors with Art Deco lines and a relaxed opulence. The long bar in the centre is a feast for the eyes, with Art Deco glamour and stage presence showcasing a great selection of spirits. High-tables big enough for parties of six to settle into the mid-century peacock blue leather chairs, sit in the centre of the space, with semi-circle velvet and leather banquettes lining the side. We make ourselves comfortable in our banquette booth and marvel at how the space feels like a secluded hideaway from the outside world.
Menus – what to expect
The vivacious Naledi brings us a welcome glass of bubbly whilst we hungrily ogle the menu. Hawksmoor Executive Chef Matt Brown and Head of Drinks Liam Davy have brought together a Hawksmoor-level bar food menu with an innovative drinks list featuring some timeless Hawksmoor big-hitters alongside those made specially for this location.
The cocktails are divided into light Spritzes, an array of Martinis, Hawksmoor ‘Landmark’ classics, boozier nightcaps, Bottled Cocktails for sharing, and ‘Steady Ship’ non-alcoholic tipples. Every day, between 4-7pm, there’s an extended Cocktail Hour when The Lowback offers a monthly changing menu of £7 cocktails, showcasing the creativity of the bar team as they create unique feature cocktails working with smaller, lesser-known distillers and producers.
Food on offer is mouthwatering and indulgent. Small plates such as Bone Marrow Oysters (£3 each), Brixham Scallops (£6 each), and Ash-Baked Beetroots (£9) sit alongside hearty Dry-Aged Steaks with Triple-Cooked Chips (£21.50 – £35), and a selection of Burgers & Sandwiches (£10 – £26).
Food & Cocktails
Pink Gibson (Boatyard Vodka, Audemus Umami gin, Aperitivo Co. Dry Vermouth, pink pickled onion; £12) arrives alongside our first small plate of Steelhead Trout Crudo (£10). The martini is quite simply amazing. Unfiltered vodka and barrel-rested gin come together to deliver an unctuous, gliding mouthfeel. The base flavour from Audemus’ Umami Gin comes from South Italian capers and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; these add umami savouriness to this iconic Gibson, with gently herbal vermouth and sharp pickled onion completing the symphony. These flavours marry beautifully with the delicate meatiness, sharp citrus and gently bitter vegetation of the trout dish.
Salt Beef Nuggets with Ogleshield, Kraut, and Russian Dressing (£7.50) come next, shortly followed by the Bone Marrow Oysters (£3 each) that have been calling our name ever since we arrived. Both are sensational, decadent, and wonderfully moreish. Balls of soft, juicy beef and gooey Ogleshield cheese are covered in a crisp double-crumb coating. These are topped with a gently tangy dressing that cuts through the richness of the morsel. The seductive texture of the melting bone marrow works perfectly with the cooked oyster, indulging the senses with powerful flavours and a robing mouthfeel. The oysters with the Gibson are a match made in heaven and one we’d happily live off if we were able to.
Our next drink, the eponymously named The Lowback (£12), is a citrus-forward, Gimlet-meets-Daiquiri with gin, lime leaf, coconut, and yuzu. Sharp and bright, it makes for a fantastic palate cleanser and is a quaffable crowd-pleaser with coconut liqueur adding body and a light drying character felt from a touch of Champagne.
The wins keep on coming as our lovely servers Naledi, Alberto, Jo (F&B), and Liam (Head of Drinks) bring more and more plates to our table.
Langoustine Scampi (£14) is impossibly fresh, lightly battered plating, whilst Brixham Crab in Baby Gem Lettuce (£12) is a refined twist on a ‘70s canapé, with a light crab mix topped with zingy sumac. Perfectly cooked, lightly spiced Coronation Cauliflower with Lime Pickle Yoghurt (£6) continues down the road of dinner party nostalgia and goes further to prove to us that Hawksmoor is capable of rocking the casual bites game as well as the seated dining experience.
We end proceedings on Pecan Godfather (£11) – a twist on the classic Godfather that swaps the whisky and Amaretto pairing for pecan butter fat-washed Bulleit Bourbon and tonka bean syrup. Olorosso sherry is introduced to add further complexity, sweetness, and depth, to create a modern, more adult take on an outdated classic.
The Lowback is a massive feather in Hawksmoor’s highly festooned hat. The atmosphere and decor are exceptional, with it easily taking the crown as its most comfortable and attractive bar. All the food and drinks on offer were perfectly executed, with Pink Gibson, Bone Marrow Oysters, and Salt Beef Nuggets securing lifetime membership in our heart of hearts. What’s more, the service was impeccable, with friendly and knowledgeable staff happy to chat and offer advice throughout the evening, making us feel instantly at home in a part of town where we often feel supremely uncomfortable.
The Lowback is probably the best new bar we’ve been to since the end of lockdown and we can’t wait to return!
The Lowback, 1 Water St, London E14 5GX