From the onset, I feared Hix may be a wrongun; if not a wrongun, then a bloated and misunderstood party boy waking up with a hangover… and finding himself in the wrong decade.
Thursday night: we were greeted by a tetchy hoard of suits at the door that bristled as we (rightfully) sauntered past to our reserved table. This first impression was telling, as the place appears to have disappeared irretrievably up its own a**e. All that posturing soon becomes really rather joyless.
When we took in the paraphernalia, there was something a bit gross about the overly self-aware kitsch. A Fray Bentos mobile loomed above diners as we racked up sky-high bills. It hit a bum note in terms of nostalgia and humility, instead evoking the spectre of a gaudy, cigar-puffing fat cat laughing at the unsophisticated, spam-gobbling masses. Despite aligning its aesthetic with the YBAs, Hix seems more smug than contemplative or progressive. There wasn't nearly enough irony to carry it off. (Perhaps it’s all part of the provocative schtick though; in which case, it was lost on me).
Ordering our first cocktail was laborious; I thought ‘Dirty Martini’ would suffice, but there was a fair bit of eye rolling when I failed to specify my vodka of choice. Service wasn’t geared towards warmth, and our waitress was downright surly when I floundered.
My starter of onion soup was alright, but impossible to eat as thick crescents of allium flicked searingly-hot liquor in every direction. The mustard crouton was fiercely peppery (good) but pappy in texture (irksome). Battered squid was fine but unremarkable against, say, a decent Chinese salt-and-pepper number (at half the cost).
Herein lay the problem; everything came at a price. There wasn't a crumb of bread at the table, but Hix saw fit to charge four quid for a few parsnip crisps. Oddly, wine and cocktails weren’t extortionate by London standards, but a chicken escalope set us back nearly 20 quid and was bereft of any sides. It was jolly good to eat, but I couldn’t shake the sour taste of relentless swanking. We lost our appetite by dessert.
Bag yourself space downstairs at Mark’s Bar and you’ll be laughing: bang-tidy cocktails, an intuitive mixologist and a pretty electric atmosphere. But the restaurant? I won’t be back - not while London’s so choc-a-bloc with places oozing warmth and value in equal measure.