- Food & Drink
At the end of 2009 Hix, Soho, was the big restaurant opening that had everyone in London who thinks with their stomachs talking and praising and slathering. I read, I wanted but I had Christmas presents to buy. So Hix went onto my list for January.
And I was going to book a table at Hix until I noticed that Hix Oyster and Chophouse in Farringdon did Sunday lunches. Dinner with friends is nice, but isn’t a Sunday lunch with sherries at one end, coffee at the other and plenty of dripping red roast beef in the middle better? A table for 6 was booked and last Sunday. DJ, Leonard, The Enigmatic Mr S, Mr B and Lennard from NY gathered around a table wisely covered in paper cloths.
DJ, Leonard, Mr S and I arrived first, so we had a glass of sherry each and our waiter brought over a bowl of beetroot and parsnips crisps. These were delicious to much on, especially the scrunchy strands of parsnip, and we devoured the lot.
Mr B and Lennard arrived at the same time as a loaf of crusty, chewy white bread, and our waiter brought over a second bowl of beetroot and parsnip crisps so they wouldn’t miss out. They nearly did, as I was determined to eat more than my fair share. I nearly managed it, too.
The starters were potted smoked salmon ‘Hix Cure’ with toast, bath chaps with piccalilli and watercress, and Gladys May duck’s egg mayonnaise. A plate of each was brought to the table and we passed them around, politely trying to take as much as we could without seeming like it.
The potted salmon was the best of the three. A little vat of smooth, moreish salmon pâté with not quite enough toast (there’s never enough toast, no matter how much the kitchen sends out. It’s one of the rules of dining out).
The bath chaps were wafer thin strips of delicate porkiness that were completely overwhelmed if you ate them with the piccalilli. That’s not to say the piccalilli wasn’t good, it was. But I’ve always suspected that piccalilli is better eaten on its own. It’s an egotistical relish that never gives way to other flavours.
The duck’s egg mayonnaise was the least successful of the three. Halves of almost hard-boiled duck’s eggs were blanketed in mayo and both of them tasted of nothing. If it hadn’t been for the sprinkle of cayenne, I wouldn’t have been 100% sure I was eating anything.
The main event was roast rib of Herefordshire beef, brought to the table on a board with a pile of flowerpot-sized Yorkshire puddings. There were 4 or 5 thick slices of carved meat and then half a joint of boned, rolled beef left to carve.
This was a bit inexplicable. Perhaps they were intending to come to the table and lean over us, carving the beef with a flourish. If they were, they hadn’t counted on how fast we rip through food. The sliced beef was distributed and DJ, because she was closest, set about the joint. The table was soon splattered with blood.
The beef was perfect. Thick, tender and juicy. The Yorkshires were puffy and crisp, with slightly soft bottoms – exactly how I like them. Roast potatoes were crunchy and fluffy and the buttered greens had a hint of winter bitterness about them that went well with the heap of buttery bashed neeps (swede). We had three gravy boats in circulation at any one time.
A roast is a difficult meal to get right. There are a lot of elements that all need to be ready to serve at the same time and if you over cook something or get it wrong, there’s no way to cover it up. But the roast at Hix was as good as my mum’s, which is the highest praise you can heap on a Sunday lunch.
Dessert choices were Amedei chocolate mousse, blood orange and Sipsmith gin jelly or Gorwydd Caerphilly with walnut oatcakes. I had the jelly and was rewarded with a glass of refreshing citrus jelly topped with a dab of cream. It was exactly the sort of light pudding you should have after a roast, but in my heart I longed for a crippling slab of crumble and custard.
If the mousse hadn’t been so airy, it could’ve played the role of the crumble well. It was an über chocolate pudding, an embarrassment of riches and Leonard have to give up halfway through hers. Unusually, I wasn’t interested in the cheese so I didn’t ask how it was. Mr S ate the lot, so I’m assuming it was good.
We finished with coffees and teas and left 5 hours after we arrived, replete and glowing. The set Sunday lunch (crisps, starters, roast and choice of desserts) costs £34.50 and on top of that we had 4 sherries, 2 bottles of wine, a bottle each of still and sparkling water, 4 coffees and 2 teas. Including service, our bill was £55 each. It was worth every penny.