I dined at the new Hix restaurant in Soho earlier this week. We've had our kitchen ripped out and will be forced to eat out or order in over the next couple of weeks, loving it!
So, Hix was an enjoyable experience. I've not eaten at Mark Hix's other restaurants but was expecting good quality traditional English food. This was what I got.
After a mild bout of hysteria upon arriving and seeing Bill Granger sat at a neighbouring table, I regained my composure, selected a bottle of white and perused the menu. We were given some bread, a small white round loaf which was warm. I liked the bread a lot, the butter was a tad too cold, it's always an idea to allow it to come too room temperature in my opinion, it's better spreadable.
We began proceedings with the Blythburgh pork crackling with apple sauce which I thought was very good, incredibly crunchy, we munched away very loudly. It was not too oily at all but perhaps lacked a little flavour, there wasn't much of a meaty taste. The apple sauce was perfectly tart yet sweet and was more of a puree really, there was no chunks of apple.
Thomas' starter of crab with a breadcrumb topping was beautifully presented in the shell on a bed of seaweed, I preferred this to the cod but Thomas (not usually so easily perturbed) said the strong smell put him off somewhat. I thought it was pretty near perfect, served warm with a high brown to white meat ratio which is unusual.
My main course was a triumph, it was the thing that immediately jumped out at me when I checked out the menu online, I had the salt marsh mutton, kidney and oyster pie. It was perfectly sized, served in an individual pie dish topped with an oyster in the shell. There was a higher density of mutton, which suited me, and it was meltingly tender, the kidney was fairly mild in flavour and was not the slightest but rubbery as it can be if not cooked properly. The pastry was flaky, wonderfully buttery and prettily golden. I had some sprout tops on the side which were vibrantly green and delightfully strong and irony in flavour. I would highly recommend this dish, it was the star of the evening for me.
Thomas' main was the hanger steak with baked bone marrow. He liked this less the more he ate, it was very rich but the mouthful that I sampled was divine. Perfectly cooked medium rare and it looked nice with the marrow presented in a halved bone. Thomas chose sides of fries and some creamed spinach both of which were excellently executed.
We shared a dessert of bramley apple pie with custard which was okay, it didn't wow me like my pie had but it was a mightily generous portion, it would have been way too much for me. I liked that the custard came in a jug on the side for pouring as you wish, it annoys me when it comes poured liberally for you.
Some of our neighbouring diners fared less well, the gentleman to my right left almost all of his sausage, and told the waiter that he didn't in the least enjoy it. His companion raved about her cheese course.
The couple to my left chose the spectacularly elaborate looking trio of birds which put her off so much that they promptly left upon it's arrival (she was pregnant, and it was served very pink).
In all, I enjoyed the experience but I was left feeling rather underwhelmed by the whole thing. I feel at almost £60 a head there is better value available elsewhere but the room is lovely with low lighting, lots of mirrors and the bar downstairs is really rather fancy, a big open plan room encouraging lounging with plenty of low level seating and cushions. I would come back here and I think Hix will make a success of this new location.
66-70 Brewer Street, Soho