Dining out is a social affair; it’s not something that is often done alone, and it isn’t always actually about the food itself, but the event of catching up with friends, or going on a first date, or having a business meeting. I love ordering numerous small plates to share with my dining companion(s), if only because it means I can try a bit of everything! So I was very excited to go to Hixter, the latest in the line of Mark Hix restaurants, and sister to the popular Tramshed, which focuses on great British produce, and dishes designed for sharing. As a chicken and steak restaurant, the most famous dishes are the whole roasted Indian Rock chicken, practically a show on a plate, displayed whole and upside-down, feet still on, as well as huge juicy ‘Mighty Marbled’ steaks, specially selected from Hereford, Angus and Shorthorn. Eagerly we turned up, appetites at the ready (and a vow to share dishes in equal proportions agreed in advance).
Yorkshire pudding & whipped chicken livers
Sat in a large and impressive dining room amongst specially commissioned pieces by leading British artists, with plenty of space between our table and the next, we commenced our dinner with two starters to share – Yorkshire pudding with whipped chicken livers, and Cock ‘n’ Bull croquettes. These were suggested to us by the waiter, who showed great knowledge of the menu, and we were very pleased we followed his advice. We marvelled at the sheer size of the Yorkshire pudding brought to our table, which we tore up and spread with incredibly smooth and rich whipped chicken livers. Why had no-one ever combined these two foods before?!
Cock ‘n’ bull croquettes
In between bites of Yorkshire pud, we had delicious croquettes, filled with chunks of tender meat that the restaurant is so famous for. After this, we had a taste for the place, and were well and truly readied for our meaty main to come!
The beef board
Although the menu offers a range of main courses, Hixter, like Tramshed, is famous for its whole chickens and giant steaks, and once you see these plates arriving at other tables, you can’t help but follow suit. We figured a whole chicken between two might be over-ambitious, so once we’d opted for the steak, our waiter approached us with a board laden with fresh cuts of beef. The ‘Mighty Marbled’ beef at Hixter is specially selected for its marbling to ensure maximum flavour, and then dry-aged in a Himalayan Salt Chamber. There are years of scientific research behind the effects of this salt, which is millions of years old, full of minerals, and mined entirely by hand in Pakistan. With only four of these salt chambers in existence across the world, and only one in Europe, Hixter provides a truly rare cut of meat to diners. Keen to sample the beef aged using this unique method, we selected a rib on the bone, to share of course, with béarnaise sauce, fries and onion rings.
Rib on the bone
Rib on the bone, sliced
A huge slab of juicy, medium-cooked rib on the bone arrived at our table (probably not one to go for with veggie friends actually), and drinks and side plates had to be shuffled around to accommodate it. The waiter sliced the pink beef for us, as we waited patiently. From the first mouthful, we could taste the effects of the Himalayan Salt Chamber. The meat tastes as though it has a delicious marinade or coating on its seared outside, but there is none – this has simply come from it being dry aged in the salt chamber, creating an almost sweet and incredibly flavoursome cut of beef. You can’t go wrong with side dishes of crunchy onion rings and fries, which restored the protein-carb balance in our meal.
Now: dessert. By this point we were more than satisfied by our evening’s food intake, but imagine seeing this on a menu and not ordering it: salted caramel fondue with marshmallow and doughnuts for dipping. In spite of our steak-filled bellies, we couldn’t resist this dessert, and I can vouch for the fact that however full you think you might be, you need to have this.
Salted caramel fondue with marshmallows and donuts
The doughnuts made my favourite dipping tool, while the marshmallow and caramel combo, a true sugar explosion, were perfect for those with a big sweet tooth. We did struggle with our third course, but after a bit of persuasion from the waiting staff (and realising that we had sporks and not just wooden skewers to stab at marshmallows – not an easy feat), we came out the victors against our sweet fondue.
My advice if you make a visit to Hixter? Make sure you take plenty of friends so you can try a bit of everything, don’t dare pass on dessert, and of course make sure you head to Mark’s Bar for amazing cocktails made by lovely bar staff. The New York-style bar, which champions British drink producers, is the second branch of the award-winning Mark’s Bar in Soho, and a fantastic addition to the trendy waterholes in the City. Located just under the restaurant, it’s the perfect spot to either meet and catch a pre-meal aperitif, or continue the evening when the eating is over.
Unit 9, Western Courtyard, 9A Devonshire Square, London, EC2M 4AE