Dining Beneath Art at HIX Soho

3rd July 2017

When you eat at HIX, not only is creativity on your plate, suspended above your head is one of London’s more influential art displays.

Named after chef and restaurateur, Mark Hix, HIX Soho is one of a family of restaurants that dots London’s landscape and Dorset’s – where Mark grew up. This seaside upbringing spurred his fascination with cooking straight from the ocean and 2008 saw the opening of his first restaurant, HIX Oyster & Chop House in Farringdon. Prior to launching his own food empire, Mark spent a seventeen-year stint as Chef Director of Caprice Holdings, the company behind some of London’s most well-known eateries: The Ivy, Rivington and Le Caprice. HIX Oyster & Chop Shop was a runaway success, which lead to the opening of HIX Mayfair, Tramshed, Hixter Bankside and HIX Soho, amongst others. It was at HIX Soho that we test-drove the new menu, and an interiors update.

First off, a commendation is in order for Marco Fazzina, HIX Soho’s general manager, who should give a master class on how to run a fine dining establishment. Setting the tone for a guest’s complete enjoyment, all staff were exceptional and Marco himself was a warm and welcoming host, informative in just the right dose.

Marco talked us through the impressive art collection that instead of taking up precious floor space is suspended from above. A long-time friend of Mark Hix, Damien Hirst downsized his famous The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living into a mini, kinetic mobile of small fish preserved in formaldehyde-filled Perspex boxes. Shezad Dawood’s Flamingo hangs from the ceiling – in-flight and framed by loops of neon lighting. The Pies Mobile could almost be mistaken for a Calder, but the homage is a mobile sculpture made by Sarah Lucas and features two alien-like arms supporting dangling pie tins. One of the most interesting pieces is the copper table hung on the wall just to the right of  the dining counter; the repeated circles, splotches and strange markings were made in-use during a dinner party that Hix held, forever preserving the evening in the malleable metal.

Known for its seafood, poultry and steaks, and its unparalleled skill for wine pairing, we left our meal in the hands of our server, with the only guide that we were feeling more inclined to red meat. I was swayed toward the hanger steak with baked bone marrow, while my companion went for the sirloin. While the steak was being prepared, we munched on pork crackling with Bramley apple sauce and Leigh-on-Sea cockle popcorn; the cockle popcorn being the definitive Snax menu standout.

When the mains arrived, I was anxious to tuck into the baked bone marrow, which sprouted out of a small bone and looked like a small rain forest. Roasted to perfection, the flavour was exquisite. The hanger steak on the other hand had an overwhelming essence of bacon. I’m not entirely sure how the kitchen made steak taste of bacon; it was good, just not expected. If you like steak and you like bacon, you'll probably really enjoy the hanger steak. The sirloin had us back on track in predictable steak territory – succulent, juicy and delicious. On the side we went for cauliflower cheese (what isn’t good blanketed in cheese?) and minted spring vegetables. Pairing-wise, our server recommended the Château Labadie Médoc, 2014, a rich and fruity red that complemented the meat beautifully.
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A trip to HIX wouldn’t be complete without a sampling of puddings. New menu highlights include the Somerset gooseberry pie with elderflower ice cream – a classic fruit pie à la mode in light, summery flavours, and in honour of Wimbledon, the Oakchurch farm strawberries with fresh Jersey cream was light and sweet, and made for a great finish.

Make your way downstairs for post-dinner drinks. Dimly lit with a smoking den vibe, Mark’s Bar boasts an extensive, seasonal cocktail menu that puts an emphasis on British drinks like the Britz Spritz and the Full English Negroni.
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