Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sunday Roast in London: Hix

For a proper Sunday roast, I recently chose to check out HIX Soho in London, the newest restaurant in the expanding empire of chef Mark Hix. Hix is a well known chef in the UK who came from the Caprice Holdings lineage of chefs (The Ivy being one of the renowned places) and who specializes in modernized versions of traditional British food. He owns 2 other name-sake restaurants, one in the Farringdon area of London and the other in Dorset, on the coast. HIX Soho was not only well reviewed in the mainstream media but also buzzed about by some local bloggers. So it is with great anticipation that I braved the crowd in Picadilly Circus and turned off a quiet side street to arrive at HIX's modern, bright, open venue.

A Sunday roast is normally eaten as a late lunch, consists of a roasted meat, potatoes, yorkshire pudding, vegetables and gravy. The HIX version, pictured above, is one of roast beef (rib of Hereford to be exact) with yorkshire pudding and potatoes, for two or more. We weren't asked how we'd like the meat but it came perfectly medium rare, which I guess is the way it's done around here. The roast was extremely tasty, the way I pictured a Sunday roast ought to be. The roasted potatoes were also excellent, perfectly crisped on the outside but mushy and steamy on the inside. I decided I just don't like yorkshire pudding, no matter how well executed it is. It tastes to me like a poor man's popover with little taste to speak of. Even the side of thick flavorful gravy didn't give it flavor.

In addition to the gravy there was also a trio of various mustard and horseradish based sauces. All were great. Still didn't help the bland yorkshire pudding but did add a kick to the roast beef.

And just for kicks we also got some chips or fries. Good but nothing to write home about.

The rest of the menu was chock full of Brit staples like blood sausage, oysters, bone marrow, fish and chips, sprinkled in with very inventive sounding dishes like purple sprouting broccoli with fried egg and capers and cod's tongue. And to show you just how fresh everything is, the bottom of the menu actually said "Game may contain shot". Seriously.

I wasn't blown away, but it might not be Mark Hix's fault, it might just be the material he had to work with. British "cuisine" has opportunities for greatness but it's pretty few and far between.

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