Sunday, 29 March 2009

Hix Oyster & Chop House

I’ve decided that fasting can indeed be beneficial and most certainly rewarding in the end. And no I don’t mean abstinence based on religious or medical reasons either. What I’m conveying is that if you were to be invited to a lunch hosted by Augustus Gloop, it’s best that in everyone’s interest that you refrain from eating anything else the day before. Otherwise you run the risk of missing out on the whole raison d’être of the enthralling onslaught of food laid before you. In short, come prepared with a hefty appetite.

Hix Oyster & Chop House was chanced upon after reading Yuet Ling’s howling review. I also found her review to be improbable, it simply conflicted with the findings posted by the mere mortals on London Eating. And to prove that the review was influential to say the least, Little Miss Imperturbable (you are I hope?) herself, Hollowlegs, confirmed that Hix’s was indeed worth the trouble. So based on the latter’s visit and mine today, Yuet Ling’s review have generated at least 250 quid worth of business for Hix’s; Mark please waive the pudding of blood orange and gin jelly with ice cream the next time she’s there please.

The location of close proximity to London’s Smithfield Meat Market can only be a good thing, especially so with illustrious neighbours like St John, $tarbuck$ and Vinoteca.

Tiles are the main elements in the rather classy (in an utilitarian manner) dining room.

The service this afternoon was nothing short of exemplary, whoever is managing Hix’s deserves an accolade or two.

I came here for lunch today and initially thought the idea of Hix actually dishing the food out at 2pm rather offbeat or idiosyncratic. But with hindsight, it actually makes an awful lot of sense- tis’ Sunday afterall and chilling out without a care in the world is final and absolute. The idea is to come in early (they open at midday) and knock a few Bloody Marys (tea in my case) to tickle the appetite before lunch is served.

As you can peruse for yourself, the menu for Lunch today. It’s a heck of a lot of dosh so it’d better be good.

Parsnip crisps- If only I’d known they were so delightful I would’ve smuggled a container of some sort to take the rest back for nibbles later.

The Dining Companion (DC) sprinkled some salt onto the crisps, he was right with the salt complementing the intensity of the sweet parsnips.

It’s only bread I hear. It was fresh, warm and utterly delici…stop, in fact don’t eat it at all as I’ll divulge in due course.

DC and I were debating on what starters to go for, the last thing we wanted was to duplicate the orders. (It’s a foodie thing to try out as many dishes as possible) Lo and behold these things were suddenly dumped on our table without even a smoke signal sent! ‘Excuse me…’ in my best possible Antony Worrall Thompson Hugh Grant voice, ‘…but we haven’t decided on what to go for yet’ ‘Sir…’ said the lovely waitress, ’this is part of the Set Lunch at Hix Oyster & Chop House, all three choices are included, so enjoy’. She left our table with a smile and we were left nonplussed. Woah, that’s some layout!

Jellied ham hock with piccalilli

Chunky porky excellence.

The cauliflower in the excellent piccalilli was properly firm and crunchy.

Gladys May (DC thought she was a breed of duck!) duck’s egg mayonnaise- now you know whenever this kind of egg is on the menu it’s going to be rich. It so was, the yolk within was buttery and the mustardy mayo was brill. Thank goodness it was only half an egg each!

Brown crab on toast- a true highlight of the three, large pieces of ever so sweet crabmeat were in evidence.

This pot of goodness as far as I can allow myself to give tongue to, can be had for breakfast, lunch, dinner and perhaps even in one’s dreams!

It was that good.

The Roast rib of Herefordshire and Yorkshire pudding- Usual positive things of provenance and a well hung period apply to the beef here.

Cooked medium rare, need we ask? Scrumptiously beefy and melt-in-mouth.

I’m pretty sure QE2 and her family would’ve approved of this dinner with glee.

Roast potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli and roast parsnips- these ubiquitous trimmings were beautifully cooked. Except that we only had three potatoes and a couple of parsnips between ourselves, we were by now dangerously stuffed. I blame myself for gorging on the bread and toast in the beginning. DC said it was the bloody duck’s egg that did it! The guilt that floors me whenever excess food is left untouched is profound. Ouch!

Right couple of things with the puddings; unlike the starters they don’t all come in droves without your dictum (you get to choose your sugar or cheese fix) and if there’s a word that describes this course, it’s anticlimax.

DC’s Amedei chocolate mousse- I thought this was rather pretty and it tasted more than ok. DC (a Valrhona disciple) begged to differ, he thought it was too glass and a half full for his liking, the cocoa said he, was sadly amiss.

My Shipwreck tart with clotted cream- this was the anticlimax for me, not in terms of quality but portion. It was mercilessly titchy and obviously Liliputian in size. Imagined that if one was skimping on the starters and mains just to make room for the pudding, they’ll be gravely disappointed with this.

I assumed that the word shipwreck would constitute a right mess, I imagined something along the lines of an Eton Mess Tart! As per usual I was wong (actually still am). This tart contains cider brandy and it came from this bottle; the brandy in question was matured in barrels reclaimed from a shipwreck.

How quaint, except that I’m supposed to be alcohol free!

It was actually out of this world, it was incredible. This nutty tart reminded me of a bespoke pecan pie and much more. Heroic. The chap who was supervising the room took heed of the words concerning the size of my pudding, he did offer us some more without fuss. I declined, as I was genuinely glutted.

You’re probably wondering what we had to drink as well. DC had English Mineral water (he’s too posh for the fluorinated variety) and I had English tea. And very nice it was as well, real tea leaves, strainer… Save the tart, entirely alky free. I am every restaurateur's nightmare, I exempt myself from reading the wine list.

Yes all quite expensive, but it was very good though. If someone decides to foot the meal, don’t even ignore this place, you’ll love it in its entirety. I intend to come back here, pre-starved obviously and possibly on a solo basis (I need to read my papers without distraction), the Sunday Lunch here meets that requirement perfectly. Highly recommended.

36-37 Greenhill Rents
Cowcross Street
London, EC1M 6BN

PS Tonight’s dinner whilst I’m typing this, is another one of my hats. I wanted to prove to both YL and Lizzie that they were erroneously misled with their reviews, I ended up eating humble pie hat. I dedicate this review to the both of them.


Hollow Legs said...

Glad you enjoyed it so much. That's a brilliant deal for having all 3 starters... but what if you were on your own? I reckon I could give it a good go :)

bellaphon said...

Eat like there's no tomorrow, that's what! I think one gets pampered more if they dine solo, forgot to mention the place wasn't that packed when I was there. The service was similar to travelling first class.

Douglas Blyde said...

I sat at that very same table. Nice hat.

bellaphon said...

Douglas- perfect table for solo diners too. Hat's from Oxfam, more than likely owned by someone dea...

Helen Yuet Ling Pang said...

Loved your review and the photos and so glad to hear you've eaten your hat. Let me choose the hat next time - a very furry one! And thanks for choosing the shipwreck tart because we were wondering what it would look like. A must for the next visit...

bellaphon said...

HYLP- I'd rather have fur on me hats than scales; I don't comply with anything that involves snakes!

eatmeter said...

Great review, love the pictures. I can't wait to go again and tuck into the roast beef - looks amazing! Check out the review on my blog.

Suzen said...

Too funny! At first glance, I thought the fried parsnips was fried bacon. I immediately thought what a great idea! Someone finally decided to serve fried bacon as a condiment.