It's not fancy, it's not big and it's not clever, but the scrag end is delicious. For simple, honest opinions on restaurants, recipes, supper clubs and what not, you've come to the right place.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Hix Restaurant & Champagne Bar, Selfridges, Oxford Street

Everybody loves Mark Hix. They say you can’t please all the people all the time, but with Hix Oyster & Chop House, Hix Soho and Hix Oyster & Fish House, he’s had a pretty good go. Even his cookbooks garner near-universal praise. You might think, therefore, that taking over the champagne bar and restaurant in Selfridges would be a breeze.

It certainly looks that way at 7.30pm on a Tuesday evening. Perhaps surprisingly, there are only about 10 people in the restaurant, but then it is in an odd part of a not-as-nice-as-it-thinks-it-is department store. On the plus side, a relatively empty restaurant should mean a pretty flawless service. And on the even more plus side, I’m not paying; Hix Selfridges is priced at the intimidating end of quite expensive.

We start with some aperitifs – I go for the legendary Hix Fix, its champagne and cider brandy providing a suitably degenerate beginning to the evening.

A starter of ‘De Beauvoir smoked salmon’ benefits from the famous Hix cure. It’s really wonderful – sweet and woody, thickly sliced and generously portioned. By comparison, my focaccia with avocado, anchovies and parmesan is pedestrian. Best of the starters is whipped squash with fried halloumi. It’s a textural delight, beautifully seasoned and further enhanced by the rather nice Gavi we’re drinking.  

Mains are good too. My steak tartare does its job and looks the part, though the accompanying toast adds little to the dish. I add a side of chips. These, cooked in beef dripping, are clearly very bad for the heart, but I like to think they’re rather better for the soul. They certainly make me feel warm and fuzzy.

My mother in law (who’s paying) orders monkfish and Red Sea prawn curry. It’s very nice without being quite as exciting as it sounds. And for £19.75 (a sneaky price if ever there was one), there should probably be more of it.

Cute Letts has a salt beef and green split pea salad. A wise man once said ‘you don’t win friends with salad’, but in this case, he would have been wrong. This is light and flavoursome, if slightly short of pickley notes to balance the beef.

Her good choices continue with dessert. Seasonal fruits with blackcurrant sorbet are seriously delicious. ‘My ideal dessert,’ she says. I order what I’d previously assumed took that particular honour: chocolate pudding and honeycomb ice cream. I contemplate the ‘shipwreck tart’, but I don’t know what it is and nor, apparently, does the waitress. ‘It’s got nuts in’ is the most I can get out of her. The chocolate pudding is ok, but without the bitterness that I love. Sickly-sweet honeycomb ice cream hardly helps matters. I can’t finish the dish, and it’s not often I say that.  Hix fix jelly is our table’s final choice, and it’s excellent.

Hix at Selfridges serves good food, and would make a decent place to have lunch if you find yourself lost in the shop. Otherwise, it’s difficult to see the appeal. It’s not good enough to be a destination restaurant in its own right, and too expensive to be a value alternative to anything (our bill came to £188 for three). There is also a sense that everything is slightly too easy, slightly phoned-in, even. You’d be better off, in both senses, going to Hix Soho. 

Phil Lett’s take: 6/10 

Hix Restaurant & Champagne Bar on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. All the food looks so delicious! There presentations are all so beautiful.