Friday, 24 April 2009

Hix Oyster & Chop House

Hix is tucked away down a little side street in Smithfield, one of my favourite areas for restaurants. In my opinion a great location, tucked away so it isn't too noisy or with too many people passing and peering in, but close enough to the action that it isn't a chore to find - a location, now I think about it, reminiscent of Le Caprice. Inside it is very simply and plainly decorated with sturdy furniture and white walls and a couple of pieces of try-hard modern art. On first entering I thought it might prove to be a bit bright, but the lighting was in fact perfect - you could see what you were indulging in without straining your eyes too much.

Hix, like the meat it serves, certainly has provenance. Started by Mark Hix, formerly of Caprice Holdings with head chef Stuart Tattersall, previously from Stanza, Match and Milk & Honey. This 'status' shows, when we arrived it was half full and by 9.30 it was packed to the brim until closing. Still, they managed to squeeze us in without a reservation - always worth a try. I wouldn't recommend getting conned into eating at the bar as they had clearly done to some earlier walk-ins. The menus are presented in shabby plastic folders which wasn't a great first impression, but hey-ho it did the job.

I started with razor clams with the razor clams which were excellent, well presented and very tasty. Just enough to leave you satisfied without filling you up too much - especially given what was about to come... a 1kg 'Dexter' rump steak for two, which we had previewed raw on a chopping board brought to the table so we could 'inspect' the meat. Dexter, apparently, is a special small breed of cow prized for it's delicious meat. Still, when it arrived in its cooked state were were slightly daunted by the size. Brought to the table whole and then carved up right in front of your eyes this was quite a slab of meat. It went down a treat with some chips and (slightly oversalted) broccoli on the side. There was a god variety in how well the pieces of meat was cooked (we ordered medium rare) and it was very satisfying to be able to survey the selection and then stab at your choice. You certainly won't go hungry here.

All of the food is very simply and honestly presented, in a somewhat similar style to Great Queen Street which is nice because they clearly believe that the ingredients can stand up for themselves. The service was very friendly, and attentive without being irritating. My one gripe was that they weren't particularly on the ball with topping up wine and water. Reasonable value at £60 per head for two courses, a bottle of decent (£30) red and coffees. An all round a decent meal. Not one that I will be screaming about from the rooftops but one I would most definitely recommend for meat lovers. 7/10 (restrained by the high prices)

Hix Oyster & Chop House, 36-37 Greenhill Rents, Farringdon, EC1M 6BN. 020 7017 1930


  1. This place was pretty good when I went but St. John wins every time for me!

  2. It would get boring to go to St. John all the time. I'm glad there's two great restaurants there. And I find it hard to pick a favorite for all occasions: Hix seems more convivial, St. John with its bright whites seems more temple-like. And the crowd at Hix always seems to be having a better time. The customers at St. John all seem too serious. So I take my friends to Hix when I want to have fun, and to St. John when I want to show them the extremes British cuisine goes to to impress.

  3. That looks like a beast! My dad wanted to go to St John but alas, they were fully booked. Hix more than stepped up to the plate.

  4. Excellent write-up and welcome to the bloggers' fold. I must give Dexter beef a go soon.

  5. I loved my meal at Hix! Great service without being overly attentive (I like a balance of friendly, efficient and helpful without hovering). It's a lovely place to go to, though I do agree one can end up spending a lot (and I didn't even have steak).

  6. Where do you guys think that Smith's (top floor) ranks within the Smithfield-British-Meat scene?