I'll level with you - nothing piques my libation-loving interest quite like a good ol' alfresco area. Especially pretty, foliage-adorned havens off the beaten track. The Hawk's Nest in Shepherd's Bush had been on my 'need to go' list for quite some time - I mean, have a look for yourself, it's beautiful, isn't it? So, on a balmy, late-summer evening, I decided to head its way, with cocktails and pizza on my mind.
As I was a little late for my booking (apologies, Hawk's Nest), I'd sprinted my way from Shepherd's Bush Market station. So, there I arrived, a red, flustered mess - but what I found? An absolute stunner of a spot. At the front, there were cute tables and what looked like a flower-entwined entrance into a magical, faraway land. But no, it was something much better - a seriously cool cocktail bar. Once through, there were a few long, green benches, covered by what seemed to be more plant than pergola. I felt immediately calm; the smell of incense flowed towards us, while upbeat reggae tunes played in the background. And better yet, there were lots of adorable pooches around. Was I in heaven?
You make your order through QR codes on the tables. Once scanned, a menu pops up, showcasing cocktails, beers and a load of tasty pizzas. As you can imagine, after my brief jog, I was pretty thirsty, so I kicked off with a Passion Fruit Mezcalita (£11), a mix of Koch Espadin Mezcal, El Sueno Blanco, Cointreau, passionfruit, lime and agave. It was sweet yet smoky, with a punchy, tropical edge. My friend went for the Summer Negroni (£11), which was a lighter version of the classic cocktail (tasting a bit like a grown-up Aperol Spritz), combining Tanqueray Flor de Seville, Belsazar Rose Vermouth and Aperol.
While we sipped merrily away, we eyed up the Hawk's Nest's menu. The truffle mushroom arancini (£4.50) sounded so good, we had to give it a go. It arrived piping hot and beautifully crispy on the outside, with a gorgeous balance of truffle and garlic - complemented nicely by the generous slices of mushroom. Alongside this, we ordered a bowl of courgette chips (£4.50). These came as big slabs of deep-fried courgette served with a deliciously zingy dipping sauce.
Next up? The Hawk's Nest Margarita (£10.50), a blend of El Sueno Blanco, Cointreau, Chambord, lime, agave and homemade oleo. It packed a heady kick, with a smooth, sweet edge. My pal went for the Picante (£10.50). Phwoar, this one was an absolute winner, mixing El Sueno Reposado, chilli, coriander, lime and agave. After a long time choosing which pizza to get (the selection is totally drool-inducing), we opted for the speck and stracciatella (£13), topped with heritage tomatoes, pesto, mozzarella and parmesan cream. The stone-baked crust was fluffy and flavourful, and the marriage of ingredients was simple yet oh-so-perfect.
As the hours passed, the vibe of the venue became a bit more upbeat - high-energy tunes started blasting from the speakers and there was a lovely, friendly buzz to the whole place. We decided we need to get on this wavelength (especially after our accidental carb-loading) and ordered a couple of espresso martinis (£11 each). Let's be honest, you can't go wrong with one of these bad boys, but this was a perfectly balanced combo of Sapling Vodka, Kahlua, coffee and gomme. It was exactly the pick-me-up that we needed. And to finish? A couple of pints of Brixton Reliance Pale Ale (£6.20 each), which offered a refreshing end to a very lovely evening indeed.
The DesignMyNight Digest
What an absolute gem. An unpretentious yet undeniably cool watering hole, The Hawk's Nest is everything I've wanted in a bar. The cocktails? Delicious. The pizzas? Even better. And don't get me started on the decor, we'd be here for hours. If you're looking for a lovely local in West London, make sure to to give this one a try.
💰 The damage: About £77 for food and lots of drinks for two.
📍 The location: Goldhawk Rd, Shepherd's Bush Market, W12 8DF.
👌 Perfect for: Casual catch-ups with friends and unique date nights.
⭐ Need to know: The pizza is seriously top tier.