Hicce (pronounced ‘ee-chay’, not ‘hicky’) is the first solo restaurant from Pip Lacey, the former head chef of Murano and 2017 finalist from Great British Menu. Officially it is part of Wolf & Badger, although if you approach it from the first floor of Coal Drops Yard, you’d be completely unaware that you were dining in a luxury lifestyle store – except, perhaps, for the fact that the sleek, Scandinavian-style furniture filling the light, warehouse-feeling space looks exactly like the sort of covetable stuff you’d find for sale in a luxury lifestyle store, and the smart young staff are as smiley and eager to help as any high-end shop assistant.
The kitchen’s speciality of wood-fired cooking includes not just grilling but also steaming and smoking. Highlights for us among the sharing plates included terrific breads – dense rye bread, sweet beer bread – to act as a base for superb pork rillettes, so smooth it tastes almost puréed, and well-sourced cheeses.
As well as cheese, charcuterie, fermented veg jars and cured fish, there are three fish, vegetable and meat dishes apiece; we enjoyed our lamb neck with mojo and tomatoes, but the side order of miso potatoes was even better, as comforting as a plate of mini jacket spuds with a flavour intensified by the miso.
Not only is this food that tastes good, it is also good for you – there is mackerel with radicchio and kumquats, or octopus with seaweed and fennel – though anyone feeling that they’ve eaten too puritanically should try the crème caramel to finish, made with condensed milk for added richness.
Lacey herself can be seen calmly beavering away in the open kitchen that runs along one wall of the dining room, while her business partner Gordy McIntyre heads up front of house as a charming host. Our only criticism would be that all of our food arrived pretty much at once, so we ate all of our hot dishes first – first week teething troubles, we’re sure.
If you’d like to try Hicce without committing to eating, a standalone bar offers beers from Hackney Brewery, biodynamic and organic wines and great cocktails including some creative non-alcoholic versions.
We’re big fans of what has been achieved at Coal Drops Yard, even if several of the restaurant concepts feel like highly accomplished re-treads. With Hicce, however, Lacey has brought something genuinely new to London’s hottest dining destination.