Hixter is the latest offering from Michelin-starred celebrity chef Mark Hix who has a string of successful restaurants across London (plus one in Lyme Regis, Dorset) and comes hot on the heels of his hugely successful Tramshed restaurant in Shoreditch.
Hix is known for his trendy restaurants offering very good, often casual food in cool interiors with a heavy featuring of iconic and modern art - Tramshed for example, is dominated by a Hereford cow and cockerel preserved in a steel and glass tank of formaldehyde by famous artist Damien Hirst. Hix Mayfair features artwork by Tracey Emin and neon word signs have become a signature look. Hix restaurants are fairly hipster in style, especially Tramshed due in no small part to the creative types who frequent it, however, given its’ City location and slightly strange corporate Devonshire Square surroundings, Hixter is cool but less hipster (despite its’ name as a play on the word).
The design makes it instantly recognisable as a Mark Hix restaurant: the neon sign visible through the glass doors of the reception area is a good give away. Inside, whilst the design is predictable, not only for Hix but for a lot of trendy new restaurants; with the exposed brickwork, numerous hanging light fittings, red leather banquettes and industrial touches features, did like it very much. It isn’t the most exciting or radical interior by any means and without the touches of the quirky, bold art (think two huge smiley faces with all facial features having slipped to the bottom and sculpture by Gary Webb) it would just be a nice room, but as it is it works. The red glow provided by several red illuminated scribble signs by Tracey Emin and the open kitchen create a lively, informal atmosphere, but one that is also comfortable. Compared to the huge space of Tramshed, Hixter is more intimate and the staff could not have been friendlier with a welcome casual manner.
Hixter offers the same food concept as Tramshed; chicken and steak with an emphasis on good quality British produce; Lancashire Goosnargh chicken (chickens reared in spacious conditions and fed a natural diet only according to the suppliers) and Glenarm Mighty-Marbled steak. The concept is simple but effective and provides delicious sounding options. To embrace the concept, even the water jugs are chicken-shaped!
Chicken dishes range from chicken served simply with stuffing and chips for one or two to share to chicken and pumpkin curry, chicken and lobster pie and chicken salad. If you are more of a red-meat fan then the choices are extensive and include ribs with chips and béarnaise sauce, sirloin steak, a chateaubriand at £75, porterhouse, steak burger and the Hixter BLC (beef, lobster and chicken sandwich) – which looked amazing when served to a nearby table.
The meaty mains are accompanied on the menu by classic English starters including a large Yorkshire pudding with whipped chicken livers, prawn cocktail and Bath Chaps (cured pig’s cheeks). Alongside these you will find oysters, Moons Green beer stix (salami sticks), smoked salmon, steak tartare and chopped beets – all sounded incredibly appealing.
Avoiding the starters and instead saving our carb-splurge for the main, we decided to share the whole Indian rock chicken, with stuffing and chips and I also ordered an Iceberg wedge side salad with melted blue cheese and hazelnuts.
The food at Hixter is witty and casual but incredibly good and simple. When the main arrived, a large chicken with feet still attached and stuck up in the air came at the centre of a large dish with a satisfyingly large serving of thin chips scattered like hay below. It was a spectacle and best of all the chicken was juicy and tasty. After the young, bearded waiter had served us a chicken leg each, we were left to carve up the meat. It was a great sharing dish and the portion size was very good (it is meant to serve 2-3 people). The chicken and the stuffing were both superb and the chips were perfect – I have been trying hard to find the perfect thin, salty chip in London for a long time and these were it.
To accompany the chicken we were served 4 sauces; mustard, mint sauce, tomato ketchup and mayonnaise – which again is my sort of food and worked perfectly with the flavoursome chicken. It was so simple but oh so good.
The salad, despite only being a side salad was divine and I would recommend it to every blue cheese fan out there. The hazelnuts worked so well with the strong cheese and the lettuce at least made it look slightly healthy!
As we ate the whole (and I mean the whole) chicken and all of the chips between two, there was just no room for the salted caramel fondue with marshmallows and doughnuts that I had gone with the intention of trying. I have to say that as much as I love Michelin-star restaurants with the most interesting, adventurous ingredients and combinations, I’ll admit that I enjoyed our meal at Hixter just as much. I went knowing what we were going to get (chicken and chips) and left feeling incredibly satisfied that it had exceeded my expectations and we had enjoyed simple food done extremely well and using the best ingredients. There was nothing we didn’t enjoy about our meal.
We dined on a Friday and as it got later the restaurant came alive and was almost full, whilst surrounding workers also piled into the bar downstairs. The restaurant is only open Monday to Friday, a result of its’ City location, however, it is the perfect place to go after work even if you have to travel a bit as I did – those chips are well worth it!