Hix Oyster and Chop House – good menu, shame about the execution

The Hix Oyster and Chop House would be a lovely destination for those who don’t mind what food they eat, how it is served or how much it costs. Everyone else will feel let down.

When we arrived we both thought it looked like a knock-off of Saint John. The menu looked quite similar too, filled with interesting sounding meaty goodies. The wine list was cheekily priced, but they had an excellent beer and cider list. At this stage we thought we would do well; unfortunately things went down-hill from there.

The first thing that became abundantly clear was that the service was shocking. People who arrived after us were served whilst we were still waiting, and a couple of tables who were there before us had to wait even longer than us. One table was served their main courses with the plates from their starters still on their table. Our pre-starters, which involved opening four oysters and toasting a piece of bread, took half an hour to arrive.

Daniel’s pre-starter was Watt’s farm asparagus on toast with Gorwydd Caerphilly. Both ingredients are favourites of ours, but pairing them added nothing. Whilst we were waiting for them to toast the bread my Helford spring native oysters were just sitting on the service counter for half an hour. These were the best dishes of the evening, and they took least effort to prepare.

We then moved onto the starters. Daniel ordered something called Heaven and Earth; potatoes with apple sauce and black pudding. The entire texture of this dish was wrong; it would do for toddlers or other dentally-challenged people but slimy black pudding, mash and apple sauce is not for grown men. Once again, the flavours were not well-matched or distinctive enough. No thanks.

The best bit of my starter was the part that ruined it. It sounded great on the menu, lamb sweetbreads with bacon and leeks. However, after these ingredients had been fried they were briefly boiled in some broth. The broth tasted lovely, but it totally ruined the texture and flavour of the other ingredients. Daniel had recently had the exact same ingredients served at Saint John; they could cook it whilst Hix could not.

At this point we were not happy and hoped they could not cock up our main courses which sounded like easy things to prepare. How wrong we were. Daniel’s fillet steak was served on the bone, with at least one third of it being bone or connective tissue. What is the point or ordering fillet steak if it is not a piece of the very best meat with nothing worth discarding? Considering there was bugger-all meat on it they really went over-board with the amount they charged (£34.50 for 300 grams, bones included). What little meat there was was a bit wet and lacking in flavour even though it had been grilled well. [link2post id=”769″]Hawksmoor[/link2post] serve better beef for less money.

My main course reminded me of the Iams pouches our cat loves so much. I don’t love them. They were supposedly barbecued beef ribs, but this was some strange definition of the word ‘barbecue’ which seemed more like braising to me. They tasted stunningly boring, with a distasteful texture and a worrying sauce soaking them. Our side-orders followed the ‘not particularly good’-pattern with dried-out chips and fried asparagus and wet green tomatoes in grease-soaked batter.

The dining room had a neon sign in it saying ‘Fucking beautiful’ (which cannot have been a reference to the cooking or the service) but this was positively tasteful compared to the soft-porn pictures adorning the toilets (two of which are reproduced at the end of this review).

The food was dull at best which seemed irksome as they were not afraid to charge for it (£70 a head for three courses including two bottles of beer/cider). After feeling so positive when reading the menu we felt cheated and unhappy. I’d avoid going if I were you.

Their website is here, but why would you want to visit it?

Here are their toilet decorations:

[image image_id=”2418″] [image image_id=”2419″]

Classy, eh?