It’s hard to get into Hix Soho. Of course it is a popular restaurant but the main issue is actually swinging open the over-sized wooden door. From the moment you do get in the door you realise this is a restaurant which likes to grab your attention. Proprietor, Mark Hix is famously friends with many of the so-called YBAs or Young British Artists and so artwork by Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst hang on the walls and dangle from the ceiling. The main restaurant is noisy and lively with people happily shouting at each other across the tables. The shouting is a good thing, too many restaurants feel like morgues but Hix has a real buzzy, party atmosphere to it. Perhaps not the best place to bring your grandma who is hard of hearing, but would you be really taking her out in Soho anyway?
The main dining room at Hix – loved the great cutlery and Hix napkins
There is a bar lined with stools to perch at and have a drink or for more drinking there is a dedicated bar downstairs called Mark’s Bar where you can sample cocktails with names like the Hanky Panky and the British Rum Shrub. However, I was invited to Hix Soho by Clarence Court eggs for a special egg inspired meal so I headed straight past all the drinking shenanigans through to the small private dining room at the rear of the restaurant.
Artwork hanging from the roof of the private dining room by Douglas White
Hix has always used Clarence Court eggs and now he is a sort of ambassador for what he describes as “eggs from posh birds”. He sat in as we drank champagne from old-fashioned style round champagne glasses which are apparently the size of a 32B bra cup and tasted Clarence Court eggs. I can report when compared to Happy Eggs and other free range eggs the Clarence Court eggs had by far the most orange flavoured yolk and the richest taste when boiled and creamiest and thickest when scrambled. I can also report that boiled eggs and champagne are a great combination, the pairing feels a bit like a very decadent brunch.
From egg tasting we moved on to a meal of eggs and more eggs. Any underlying protein deficiencies were about to be eradicated in our band of merry bloggers. Mark Hix is of course all about British food and so what we tasted was typical of the main menu with lots of simple, unadorned English classics. Hix is the expert in comfort food for grown ups. A starter of torn pieces of smoked haddock and soft boiled quail eggs scattered across a plate of chickweed (£8.75). The quail eggs were perfectly cooked to produce a just solid yolk but this dish lacked a little punch and could have done with a dressing to add interest and bind the dish together.
Haddock and quails eggs
I was more impressed with the huge flattened piece of breaded Blytheburgh pork which was topped with capers, anchovies and a fried egg (£18.75). This was a take on the classic Veal Holstein with tender and juicy pork and a runny egg yolk acting almost as a sauce for the dish.
As good as the eggs where there can be too much of a good thing. “I don’t think I can face another egg yolk” I whispered to the girls from Salad Club
sitting next to me. No sooner were the words out of my mouth when dessert arrived looking for all the world like a giant separated egg with a rich orange layer topping a creamy cup underneath. Luckily rather than the giant egg of my nightmares this was a sea buckthorn berry posset (£6.75) and the orange layer was all thanks to the orange coloured sea buckthorn berries. It was a really clever twist on the more common lemon posset, retaining a slight acidity which helped cut through the richness of the posset. It was certainly worth scraping the bowl clean for.
Luckily the lovely Clarence Court people stopped short of getting us to drink egg nog to accompany the meal (although Hix has prepared a good recipe for it on their website). Instead we drank Hix’s own Tonix white wine (£28 a bottle) from Quinta de La Rosa in the Duoro region of Portugal 2009. Created by Mitch Tonks and Hix, hence Tonks-Hix -Tonix, in what Hix describes as a booze filled afternoon in Portugal the wine has a great clean, citrus flavour and is as contemporary in taste as you can imagine in a drink with a label designed by Tracey Emin.
Hix Soho is loud and brash, in short the perfect Soho restaurant. I also liked the plethora of clever, quirky touches like the old whisky jugs that water is served in. It is just the place to go when you want the food to be a comforting but equal adjunct to a stonking night out.
Details: Hix Soho
, 66-70 Brewer street, Soho W1F 9TR (Ph 020 7292 3518) Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Damage: Pricey but I wasn’t paying.