So I wasn’t overly enamoured with Mark’s Bar, but as I reached the end of my perfectly adequate yet not incredibly inspiring cocktail I began to feel the hunger strike. Thankfully a restaurant lies above Mark’s Bar and it goes by the name…Hix.
It goes by this name for it is one of Mr Mark Hix’s very own restaurants. He doesn’t cook anything there, mind. He just gave it his name. Then let it run free. Mark Hix is the chef most famous for killing Keith Floyd, which isn’t a very good reason to eat at his restaurants.
The restaurant decor is just as bizarre as that of the basement bar, but undeniably cool. There are prints featuring rude words, and modern art by noted nutters such as Damien Hirst himself.
Above the bar hangs the mobile for the child you never wanted, in which chunks of graffitied brick and rocks are suspended on string, swinging about in a threatening manner. I photographed the artwork and was immediately told I’m not allowed to photograph the artwork. But I already had, and now I have the photos and now I’ve put them on the internet so everyone can see the artwork. So there.
They are keen on bar snacking in these Hix establishments, thus our meal began with posh pork crackling and bramley apple sauce. I cannot comment on the taste of this as I am against the consumption of deep fried fat and skin. Seriously. Don’t eat that shit. The men of the table devoured the bowlful happily, though, and I can vouch for the texture as the noises emanating from their lard filled gobs were fairly loud and crunchy sounding.
A Fact: In Vietnamese, pork rind is called tóp mỡ, which literally means “dried piece of fat”.
We then perused the menu whilst munching on some sourdough with almost as much butter as bread. Mr Hix is evidently not one for counting calories. The menu was awash with British produce, all seasonal and detailed it was. Some too detailed, take the “roast Woolley Park Farm free-range chicken”, for example. Do I really need to know the exact farm from which my dead piece of chicken once lived out its merry poultry days? No I don’t. Seconds of my life wasted.
After this came the best thing that I have ever witnessed in a restaurant, ever. The meat parade!!!! The meat parade is good, very good. What happens is, a man comes with a big plank of wood and on this big plank are a lot of chunks of meat. He then stands there holding all this meat and talks to you for a little while about meat. Sometimes he slants the meat plank so you can better view the meat. The meat is magical meat though, for when the board tilts, does the meat fall? Of course not. The steaks stay seated on their meat board. Perhaps witchcraft is involved… Or perhaps it is glue.
For beginning with I chose De Beauvoir smoked salmon ‘Hix cure’ with Corrigan’s soda bread. Smoked salmon was excellent, as delicious and wonderful as all good smoked salmon should be. It went well with the oaty soda bread – but it lacked a little in presentation. It was just plonked on a plate. No decorations. I admit your presentation options are limited when it comes to smoked salmon but please try a bit.
My friends went for the duck salad, steak tartare and mysteriously named Heaven and Earth. All of which were excellent, so much so that they vanished at a quite frankly alarming rate. Heaven and earth is black pudding. Waiter did not make any attempt to explain this weird naming. It stands out a little on a menu that is so overly detailed in all other dish descriptions. Did Hix get bored on menu writing day?
For mains everyone chose meat, probably as a direct result of the resounding success of the meat parade. Hanger steak and baked bone marrow was a success with my brother, and it was cooked perfectly – blasted on outside, raw within. Baked bone marrow was very rich and meaty (obviously). Brother was overwhelmed with it. Kept saying “why haven’t I had this before?” and other such praise. My fillet steak was good…as fillet usually is, but a little chewy, as fillet usually isn’t. The star of the table though was the porterhouse. This monster of a steak was shared by two, but really should’ve been shared by four – it was enormous. It was also melt-in-mouth-awesome, though, so they worked their way through it without much complaint. Heroes.
We didn’t make it to pudding, unsurprisingly, but left very happy with our bellies full of the stars of the meat parade. Perhaps all food should be presented in parade form before dining. Perhaps this is the way forward.
The Verdict: Good steaks, quite good starters and an enjoyable atmosphere. Starve yourself for a week and get the porterhouse, that’s my advice. P.s. Don’t photograph the artwork. They get mad.
66-70 Brewer Street