Hix, 66-70 Brewer Street, London W1

Even the art on the ceiling doesn't detract from the food on the plates at Mark Hix's new Soho restaurant

I declare an interest. Mark Hix, the chef behind this week's restaurant, writes a food column for our sister publication The Independent Magazine. So I'll start by telling you what's wrong with his new establishment, Hix, in London's Soho.

The menus are printed black on brown and are nigh-on impossible to read under the dim lighting. The dishwasher is in view of several tables and makes an annoying buzz when it finishes a cycle (which it does frequently). And the weird dangling-from-the-ceiling artwork based on Billy Bass and Fray Bentos tins? Hmmm.

I find detailing the provenance of every dish a little tiresome, although this practice is spread far beyond just Hix. Do I need to know that the cider brandy in the Cornish fish soup is supplied by Julian Temperley? The whole roast chicken is from Woolley Park Farm. I can tell from the price – £50 – that it's a quality bird, I don't need to know its postcode. And as for shaved Mrs Kirkham's Lancashire, let's hope it was the cheese and not Mrs Kirkham that was shaved.

But as for what's right with it? Just about everything else. The venue, latterly a Japanese restaurant called Aaya, has been transformed into a clean, calm room with a vaguely Eastern European feel: the floor is a rustic combination of wood and tile, and the bentwood chairs and lightly padded banquettes are the comfortable side of austere.

The table furniture is elegant and the menu – once I've got my eye in – reads similarly smoothly. There's a lot to choose from, 16 mains, but then Hix is an accomplished chef with a wide repertoire. His new venture features some of the "greatest hits" of his Clerkenwell and Lyme Regis restaurants – hanger steaks, roast grouse, meat and oyster pies – with an emphasis on British fare.

Mr M and I start with a couple of oysters each, just because. The Maldon Rocks (£1.95 each) are briny and fresh, but the West Mersea natives (£3.75 each) are properly dazzling. I'd eat another half-dozen, but save myself for my starter proper – partridge on toast with salsify and elderberries (£9.75). Game can be a little dry but the meat is tender as you like, a perfect match for the crisp toast and the intense savoury flavour of the berries. I want to eat it all over again, and resent the single mouthful I give Mr M. He has mixed beets with goat's cheese, water celery and pickled walnuts (£9.25). The veg are a shade too firm for my liking, but the marriage of tastes is winning.

By now the place is filling with guests eager to be first to get into the new buzz restaurant, among them a notoriously alpha-male reviewer. Hix, who until now has been keeping an eye on diners and the dishes coming out of the kitchen, moves in to guide him around the room. I earwig on the artwork explanation – it turns out that the mobiles dotted around the room's ceiling are by Damien Hirst, Gary Webb and Sarah Lucas among others, so even though they look more than a little bonkers, they have... provenance.

The fillet of gurnard with cockles and Morecambe Bay shrimps (£19.25) is wonderfully rich and complex. Mr M informs me that the mutton, kidney and oyster pie is melting with stringy- in-a-good-way mutton and a terrific pastry crust, but why – he asks – don't modern pies have sides?

Our charming waitress, when asked what the advertised potato "specials" are, describes thick slices of potato fried in butter. My idea of heaven, so I look forward to them. It turns out I'd misheard and the spuds are fried in batter (£3.95). They are, shall we say, a little denser than I'd anticipated, but delicious all the same.

The general manager goes misty-eyed about the Bramley apple pie (£6.50), and now I know why. It is not modishly tart, or deconstructed – just an exemplary pudding, with a jug of proper custard.

Yes, it's pricey. Yes, it's got teething problems. But the food is sublime and Hix has the unmistakable hum of right place, right time. Even if that is under a Brit Art mobile of a plastic fish. n

16/20

Scores: 1-9 stay home and cook, 10-11 needs help, 12 ok 13 pleasant enough, 14 good, 15 very good, 16 capable of greatness, 17 special, can't wait to go back, 18 highly honourable, 19 unique and memorable, 20 as good as it gets

Hix, 66-70 Brewer Street, London W1, tel: 020 7292 3518. Lunch and dinner seven days a week. Price for two, with wine, about £120

Second helpings: More Soho seducers

Yalla Yalla

1 Green's Court, London W1, tel: 020 7287 7663

This sweet, new heart-of-Soho café has been an instant hit with its authentic Beirut-style cooking and baking; it is already invariably full.

Spacca Napoli

101 Dean Street, London W1, tel: 020 7437 9440

If you like noise and chaos, this authentic Soho trattoria (rammed with Italians) is a great place, serving proper Neapolitan pizza (by the metre); service, however, needs work.

Benja

17 Beak Street, London W1,tel: 020 7287 0555

In the heart of the West End – but still often a discovery for diners and reporters – this small but lavishly furnished Soho-townhouse offers Thai food that's somewhere between good and excellent.

Reviews extracted from 'Harden's London and UK Restaurant Guides 2010'

News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Day In a Page

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea