Picture the scene: you have decided to go Christmas shopping in Regent Street roughly two weeks before the big day. You are exhausted, a little shell-shocked and in need of sanctuary – not to mention a good lunch. What do you do? Well first of all my advice would be not leave your shopping till the last minute (I never learn). But when it comes to sanctuary and a really good lunch you can do no wrong by taking a detour to Brewer Street and taking refuge at HIX Soho.
HIX doesn’t announce itself with much fanfare. There’s a discreet sign and a really quite intimidating door. Once you go inside however you enter a really big room with impressive high ceilings and lots of ‘hanging art’ as my husband called it (mobiles courtesy of Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin and other British artists). The tables are mostly full, a mix of business lunches and low-key Christmas gatherings. It would probably be advisable to book in advance – HIX may have been open for nearly 5 years but it clearly hasn’t lost its buzz. And despite a busy lunchtime you never feel pressured to leave – service is courteous and unobtrusive (nothing worse than being asked how your meal is constantly).
We are quickly shown to our (rather small) table and presented with the drinks menu. It is only lunchtime but I can’t resist a good cocktail list so I decide to sample the Royalty (Chase rhubarb vodka, pink grapefruit, lemon juice and a dash of Adnam’s absinthe – £9.50) which comes garnished with a pretty pansy. It is perfectly balanced and just the pick-me-up I need to negotiate the menu – it takes me a full ten minutes to decide what I want for lunch.
We both order the shellfish soup with Cornish pastis (£7.50) as a starter. It is much more substantial that I expected and absolutely delicious, though it could be a bit warmer. We have to tip the plates to get every last drop – a faux pas, perhaps, but totally worth it! Although I dither horribly about what to have for main course, I am finally swayed by others sitting around me – the Webster’s fish fingers with chips and mushy peas (£17.50) are clearly hugely popular. I don’t regret my choice for a second – although very simple, the dish is prepared expertly using the best ingredients.
My husband opts for the Ground rib burger (£16.95) which comes with (or without) a big choice of extras such cheese, bacon, fried egg and so on. He pairs the burger with a HIX Oyster Ale (£6.50) which is very dark, very smooth and apparently a good match for the oysters on the menu. He declares ‘you can’t find fault with this burger’ and as for our fries, they are thin, crispy, salty perfection. We are way too full to contemplate dessert but we plan to return, if only to take advantage of the excellently priced set menu (2 courses £19.50 / 3 for £24.50) which wasn’t available during the festive season. There’s also a bar downstairs (Mark’s Bar) which I badly want to visit – the cocktail list full of “historical curiosities and celebrations” by Nick Strangeway is calling to me.
HIX Soho, 66-70, Brewer Street, London, W1F 9UP
Find more reviews at Millennium Hotel’s Blogger’s Guide to London