Hide opened in April 2018, and is split over three floors, the casual “Ground” at street level, the main restaurant “Above”, which looks out over Green Park, and a bar (“Below”) and private dining rooms in the basement. This was one of the highest profile restaurant openings of the year, backed by the owner of Russia’s largest mobile phone retailer Euroset, Yevgeny Chichvarkin, and Tatiana Fokina, who had a background in luxury retail. They had moved to London in 2010 and previously opened the distinctly upmarket Mayfair wine shop Hedonism in the autumn of 2012. This connection is relevant to Hide, as we shall see. The premises have been completely transformed from the previous incarnation of the Lebanese restaurant Fakhreldine, which had traded on the site for three decades before closing at the end of 2012. The new Hide has dining room windows looking out onto the street, and also a very discreet door. There is no obvious sign denoting the restaurant at all, though if you look carefully you will find a “Hide” sign buried partly in the wall. It is, er, well hidden.
The executive chef of Hide is Ollie Dabbous, who previously earned a Michelin star for his previous eponymous restaurant. The décor at Hide could hardly be more different from the bare bricks of Dabbous. At Hide there is a centrepiece customised spiral staircase that connects all three floors and looks as if it was carved out of some giant tree, this presumably being a design reference to the neighbouring park. There has been no stinting with the décor here. The main dining room “Above” seats just over sixty guests at well-spaced tables. A very neat design touch was that each table had a little drawer in which was a phone recharger block with cables, in case your mobile is on its last telephonic legs and needs a reviver. There is also a smart private dining room at this level with an unusual feature. Tucked away discreetly is a large hidden door, behind which is a huge elevator big enough for a car. Guests who book the private room could, if they wish, drive their limousine into the lift and be whisked directly to the private dining room without leaving their vehicle or encountering other pesky members of the public. This is presumably intended for a certain kind of oligarch, but would surely have been ideal for Edina and Patsy in a sadly unwritten episode of “Absolutely Fabulous”.
Hide opens from breakfast through to dinner, including serving afternoon tea. The tasting menu is £95 and a set lunch is available for £42, which is what we tried. In Above there is no a la carte menu. There is a 70 page wine list, but also something more interesting. The wine shop Hedonism stocks over 6,500 different wines, and if you choose any wine from their list it will be delivered from the nearby store within ten to fifteen minutes. You pay the shop price plus £30, so essentially this is a corkage charge, and a pretty fair one at that – some other Mayfair restaurants charge corkage of £50 and more. Certainly if you like to drink better wines then £30 above retail price is a bargain compared to what you would normally get charged in a central London restaurant, where you will usually pay three to four times the retail price, and sometimes much more than this.
The meal began with an array of nibbles. A plate of crudites included carrot, yellow courgette, fennel and beetroot, along with a bowl of dressing for dipping. This was flavoured with honey and chamomile, and was very good indeed. The limitation with crudités in Britain is that our vegetables cannot compare to those with more fortunate climates. It is one thing to serve crudités at Louis XV in Monaco, the vegetables fresh from the markets of Cannes and Ventamiglia, having been nurtured in the hot Mediterranean sun. It is another to try and substitute vegetables that have struggled through British weather. Hence these were very pleasant, but hard to get excited over There was also some chilled cucumber broth with lemongrass and elderflower, which didn’t do anything for me. Finally there was some charcuterie comprising goose presented on a goose feather, and also pork jowl presented on a bone, which had good flavour (14/20 nibbles). Bread here is made in house, a selection including sourdough with hazelnuts, flatbread, corn baguette and, best of all, a light and fluffy focaccia with green olives (15/20 bread on average).
Asparagus was from the Wye Valley on the Welsh border. This was prettily presented with toasted hazelnuts, asparagus jus and ricotta cheese that is made in the kitchen here each morning from the whey drained off cheese curds. This looked lovely, but the asparagus did not compare in flavour with the Provence asparagus I ate recently at The Ritz and Hedone, and the ricotta’s mild flavour didn’t really deliver enough flavour, though the hazelnuts added a welcome texture (14/20 at best). Much better was crapaudine beetroot (the oldest variety) with blueberry vinegar, rose petals and crushed pistachio, along with horseradish cream. The earthy flavour of the beetroot worked well with the aromatic rose and pistachio, and above all with the excellent horseradish cream, which delivered just the right amount of bite without being too strong. This was a classy dish (easily 16/20).
Pasta parcels of king crab came with vegetables including broad beans and radish, chervil and a pool of warm garlic buttermilk. The pasta had good texture and the beans were carefully cooked, the crab being fresh and free of shell. The buttermilk complemented the other flavours nicely (15/20). Rillette of veal was served warm, along with mushroom shavings and pickled garlic buds. The veal itself was fine, and the sourness of the pickling juices were a nice way to balance the richness of the rillettes, but I was unsure that the mushroom shavings added a great deal here (14/20).
Strawberries and clotted cream was more involved that it sounds. For a start there was an attractive medley of different strawberries: regular English ones, tiny French gariguettes, white pine berries, “strassberries” (an old breed of strawberry that resembles a raspberry) wild white strawberries and a pool of strawberry jus. The clotted cream came as ice cream, the final flavour on the plate being cherry blossom. Although the different variety of strawberries were pretty to look at, ultimately the limiting factor with such a dish is the quality of the fruit. I have eaten extraordinary strawberries in Japan with dazzlingly intense flavour and aroma, and those could carry a dish on their own. The ones here were good but for me some more work was required in the pastry section to really convert these to something that transcended just a dish of pleasant fruit. There are so many ways that this could be done, from something as simple as a strawberry tart, for example, through to the more technical strawberry textures dish at Hedone. This was really just a plate of artfully tweezered fruit (13/20). Coffee was from Union in east London and was very good. This came with a pair of petit fours, a liquorice root with star anise marshmallow and a chocolate leaf with caramelised hazelnut and gold leaf.
Service was excellent, with a charming Italian manager who used to work for Alyn Williams. We even encountered that rarest of creatures, an English waiter, and not just a student earning a few quid on the side but an actual career waiter: very good he was too. Our bill came to £184 each but that was almost entirely down to the wine, with the food just £42 each. If you shared a modest bottle with the set lunch menu then a typical cost per head might be £70 or so, though of course if you had the full tasting menu and indulged in the higher reaches of the tempting Hedonism wine this then the sky would be the limit when it comes to the final bill.
Overall I enjoyed my meal at Hide, the dishes that we tried averaging exactly in between 14/20 and 15/20. A great deal of effort has been invested here, from the design of the room to the dish presentation and numerous little touches. I preferred the food here to the original Dabbous, and with the unique wine package, striking room and slick service, this is appealing in many ways. Highlights such as the beetroot dish show that there is real culinary skill on display here, but not everything works to that level. This is an issue because, particularly if you opt for the pricier path of the tasting menu and better wine, then the high resulting bill means that the cooking needs to be consistently spot on. Otherwise it will be a case of nowhere to run, nowhere to Hide.