True to its name, HIDE can be hard to find – the entrance is seamlessly concealed in plain sight on Piccadilly by large wooden doors which seem like they might in fact just be a wall.
Once inside (and up the stairs), the atmosphere is warm and relaxed, featuring widely spaced tables that ensure you never find yourself locking eyes with your fellow diners. Wherever you’re seated you’ll be afforded good views; either of Green Park through the glass front of the building or of the kitchen, which can be appreciated in the back half of the space.
A meal here features the unusual flavour combinations and inventive presentation that are the hallmark of chef and owner Ollie Dabbous. Snacks set the tone with a richly umami Jerusalem artichoke stock accompanied by house-made charcuterie, wrapped around bones and feathers.
Starters proper bring a light picked crab dish which is surrounded by a broth lightly scented with kaffir lime leaves to cut through the rich sea notes, plus the house signature ‘nest egg’ – a wonderfully smoky concoction of a slow-cooked egg yolk combined with butter, toasted mushrooms and cream all presented in a hollowed-out egg nestled on a bed of hay.
A main of sweetly glazed Wagyu short rib was balanced with a molasses yoghurt and charred spring onions but with just one small piece of meat served, it made the £44 price tag feel punchy; if you’ve time on your hands, the tasting menu (£140) might be the better way to get the most out of the food here.
Despite the quirky interiors – there are hints of Wes Anderson in the curved central staircase and the raised impressions of flowers printed into the walls, albeit if the director didn’t like colour – and small portion sizes, this is definitely a place of excess: the private dining room hides a car lift which brings guests directly to their table while the tables conceal drawers with phone chargers for each diner.
The service plays into this need to please with keen and knowledgeable staff topping up drinks faster than you can quaff them, and detailed explanation of each plate accompanying your courses, which can begin to wear by course eight of the tasting menu. The team of sommeliers are ever present too, perfectly pairing a range of dangerously drinkable wines – a fresh and textured white to start, for instance, and a slightly smoky pepper-rich plum shiraz to complement the beef main.
It’s safe to say HIDE is about more than the food; it’s an experience in every sense of the word. Just, perhaps, a once-in-a-lifetime one.