We might continue to lament the lack of reliable brunch spots in London, but at least we now have a few places for a great Sunday lunch, and Hix Oyster & Chop House in Farringdon is top of the list after an indulgent 2.5-hour afternoon spent in the company of Glenarm Estate sirloin with Yorkshire pudding, Swainson House Farm Indian Rock chicken with wild garlic sauce, Bowgreave Farm suckling pig with Yorkshire rhubarb sauce, and whole Torbay brill with hollandaise.
Four roast options (including that sparkling fresh fish – so simple, so good) served with unapologetically buttery new potatoes, roast potatoes, oozing cauliflower cheese and king cabbage.
But we are rushing ahead – first of all, the bar is perfect for pre-lunch libations with a short list of ‘Something Bloody’ and ‘Something Bubbly’. And for those of you who have always felt the classic Bloody Mary isn’t quite gutsy enough, the Chop House Mary is made with smoked vodka, beef stock so rich it’s almost chewy and a Tempranillo float. It’s dirty and delicious.
It the beef trolley isn’t attracting all your attention (and it should, it is a thing of beauty) then diners can feast their eyes on the restaurant’s art exhibits. There are a number of pieces dotted around – and a bit of pre-reading explains the presence of Becks bottles above the cold counter.
Back to the menu. There are a handful of ‘Snax’, and we couldn’t look past the Scrumpy-fried oysters with Scotch Bonnet mayonnaise, but the really ingenious thing (along the same lines as the opening to Blacklock’s all-in menu) are the three sharing starters that come in at £7.50 a head – so that’s three distinct, generous-sized nibbles for the price of one entrée.
We wolf down Portland crab croquettes with herb mayonnaise, whipped Berkeley Farm ricotta with white sprouting broccoli and walnuts, and Woodall’s smoked Black Combe ham with pickled chicory.
Talking of great value, dessert. Or to be precise – two desserts (Norfolk treacle tart and Peruvian Gold cheesecake mousse with honeycomb) and one cheese (served with rhubarb chutney) at £5 each. And then, if you really have splashed all your cash on £30 pitchers of Chop House Mary, there’s the £2 per scoop credit crunch ice cream with hot chocolate sauce.
I love this. It’s a stunning looking, welcoming restaurant – the food tastes great, the service is reliable – and yet people haven’t got cocky when pricing the menu. It encourages an ‘I’ll just have one more glass mentality’, which really is what Sundays are supposed to be all about.
Contact: HIX Oyster & Chop House – 36-37, Greenhill Rents, Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6BN. Ph. 020 7017 1930. http://www.hixrestaurants.co.uk/restaurant/hix-oyster-chop-house/