Since March, Jon has been training to do a relay swim across the English Channel. Beginning tomorrow evening, he and his teammates will be waiting for their crossing boat pilot to tell them “today’s the day.” And then they’ll be setting off from the dark shores of Dover sometime after midnight, dodging tankers, jellyfish and waves to (hopefully) reach France in 12-15 hours’ time.
It’s nuts. And I’m proud of him for even getting this far, of course.
What’s this to do with food, you ask?
One of the beauties of Jon’s endless training is that he’s constantly hungry and has worked for months to *gain* weight (it helps with the chilly water, apparently). So a few weeks ago, I wasn’t surprised when Jon announced he wanted steak for dinner, and he didn’t want to travel far from our neighborhood (because of course he had early-morning swim practice the next day). Cue Hix Oyster and Chop House.
We convinced our friends, J & N, to schlepp over from Maida Vale to join us, and first impressions were good: a nostalgia-inducing tiled room with a long bar and flattering soft lighting. Service was friendly but distracted (e.g., our server gave the four of us only one menu and then completely disappeared for ten minutes), but we were forgiving as it was a World Cup match night for England.
We shared three starters – oysters, a mint-and-pea soup, and scallops – all of which were fine, but not memorable (except for the £14.50 we paid for the scallops, anyway).
What *was* memorable? The beef-and-oyster pie was as good as I remembered Londonelicious describing it. A flaky crust that tasted as good as it looked, and a filling that was rich and thick and chock full of generous hunks of beef and oyster.
Memorably disappointing were the fish fingers (much too salty) and the porterhouse steak for two, a travesty for £65. I’d thought that, because we were around the corner from Smithfield Market and were at a restaurant with the words “chop house” in the name, steak would be a good bet. Sadly, although the meat looked good (thick cut, charred exterior, rare interior), the steak was chewy, and worst of all – no flavor. Maybe it’s time for me to give up on steak in London? (Admittedly, I haven’t been to Hawksmoor, but Goodman, for example, expensive and disappointing).
Other than the decor, the excellent steak-and-oyster pie, and a bottle of tasty Douro wine for £29, Hix Oyster and Chop House was a disappointment for everyone in our group except Jon, who at least accomplished his primary goal of taking in a lot of calories. If only we all had trouble gaining weight, no?
Including wine, three shared starters, three sides and four mains, our total came to £50 a person.
Hix Oyster & Chop House, 36-37 Greenhill Rents (just off Cowcross Street); EC1M 6BN; 0207 017 1930; closest tube station: Farringdon.