Up until recently, I was under the impression that Saturday nights were made for relaxing at home; making dinner, maybe watching a movie—or better yet, getting out of town for the weekend to recharge. This is what New Yorkers do: Go hard Monday through Thursday and then drop off the grid Friday to Sunday.
As the plates were being cleared we debated whether or not to give the chef a standing ovation, but opted to keep the party going and order dessert instead. This is where we went wrong.
Imagine my surprise (and slight shock and horror) to realize that “a big Saturday night out” still exists. Clearly, I had to see what it was all about so I too put on a cute outfit, a little more makeup than usual and headed out.
First port of call was pre-dinner drinks at a wine bar in Marylebone called Vinoteca. While they do serve food, we got there during the one hour of the day when they don’t serve anything more than bar snacks…Catalan almonds, Sicilian olives, radishes with butter and salt, bread and olive oil, same story, different wine bar.
And while the bar practically had tumbleweed blowing through it, the wine selection was rather impressive and our waiter, with his movie star good looks, belonged in Hollywood, not waiting tables in an apron (but that’s another story). The thing that will probably bring me back is the fact that they have Prosecco on tap behind the bar. What’s more fabulous than that? Ok, yes, Dom on tap, but let’s not get crazy. There is also a retail store located within the bar where you can purchase a bottle or two of your favourite tipple. All in all, a cool place. Next stop, Hix in Soho.
Now, I am not going to lie, the reason I chose Hix was because Time Out labelled it the ‘Best New Restaurant of 2010,” and I was dying to know why. The only time we could get a reservation was at 6:30pm so it was clear that we weren’t the only ones who had heard the Hix buzz.
The dining room was dim and the atmosphere warm, my first impression was this is going to be good. Artists Damien Hirst, Miranda Donovan and Sarah Lucas have created one-of-a-kind mobiles that dot the restaurant and bar so the crowd this place attracts is the moneyed set, both beautiful and well-dressed.
After perusing the menu, I was eager to taste Chef Kevin Gratton’s take on signature British food. I had already done a little research and I was quite impressed to see that they provide a list of suppliers—both food and drink—on their website, complete with contact details. Everything (except for say maybe the gin) was sourced locally. Top marks for that.
Hix is actually a mini empire in London with six different eateries and bars, each one a bit different. And well, since Hix is known for their oyster bars, we had to start with oysters.
My friends, who were kind enough to come along so I could scrutinize what they were eating as well, opted for the De Beauvoir Hix-cured smoked salmon with Corrigan's soda bread (£12) and a salt-cured beef (£9.25). We were off to a delicious start and so onto the mains.My fillet of Brixham sea bass with King’s Lynn shrimp and buttered Alexanders (£22.50) was a buttery, flaky masterpiece. Not overly complicated with too many spices or sauces—the fish was fresh and stole the show all on its own. We also ordered a veal stew served with a creamy potato mash (£19.75), which gets best presentation of the night as I can’t resist anything presented in its own single-serving cast iron pot. And last but not least, the mallard served over spinach and a celeric mash with parsnip crisps and red currant jelly accompaniments (£21.50). As the plates were being cleared we debated whether or not to give the chef a standing ovation, but opted to keep the party going and order dessert instead. This is where we went wrong.
I’ll chalk it up to this: If the starters and mains would not have been so spectacular then the desserts would not have been so anti-climatic. The cheese selection (£9) was tasty, but nothing to swoon over.
Our server also recommended the Welsh rarebit fondue (£7.25), which was overly mustardy and not dessert-like at all. Testing the signature British cuisine theory we also ordered the Bakewell pudding and the Spotted Dick. Both were met with less than rave reviews. ‘Boring’ was the consensus. The final note on this one, folks, is go for the oysters, starters and mains, book in for dessert elsewhere.
66-70 Brewer Street
T: 020 7292 3518
Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away
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