Hix W1 is in the premises of what was Aaya in Brewer Street. The room has a bar along one side, white walls and a white-tiled floor, while the tables are bare wood. The wine list stretched over four pages and has selections such as Ostertag Risleing 2005 at £54.50 for a wine that costs about £16 retail, Rioja Alta Allende 2004 at £50.50 compared to a retail price of around £12, while at the upper end of the list Ridge Montebello 1994 was £275 for a wine that you can find for around £100 in the shops. Bread was bought in from Millers, white mini-loaves served warm; this was pleasant (14/20).
Pumpkin salad was disappointing. In a salad I expect a decent amount of leaves, but this was just a few pieces of pumpkin around a lump of creamed goat’s curd, a handful walnuts and just a few leaves, more a garnish than a salad. The rich goat cheese badly needed more leaves, with an acidic dressing for balance, so for me this was an ill-conceived dish; indeed it was so rich I was unable to finish it (10/20).
Autumn squash soup with sage and chestnuts was rather thin, having some taste of squash but barely and discernable sage, while the seasoning was also lacking (barely 11/20). Sprouting broccoli tart with shaved Lancashire cheese (£8.25) was, for me, a rather lazy dish. Instead of a true tart, there was just a flat square of pastry on which the broccoli was placed, and topped with a layer of cheese (11/20). This was certainly edible, but I found it unexciting.
Fish and chips (13/20) was altogether better. Two fairly small pieces of pollack had a pleasant batter, served on a pea puree (mushy peas). Pollock is a fairly tasteless fish, but it was cooked nicely, and the mushy peas had good texture and plenty of flavour (13/20). Vegetables were charged separately: spinach was fine (12/20) though the mash was rather glutinous (11/20).
For dessert, apple pie was simply presented, but with good pastry and Bramley apples. Unfortunately there was too much pastry relative to apple filling, and a vanilla ice cream on the side had vanilla flavour but a rather hard texture (13/20). Lemon trifle was just careless, with far too much lemon flavour even for a lemon fan like me; this overwhelmed the dish and the acidity was just too much, making it quite hard to eat (10/20). Our Hungarian waitress was very pleasant, and indeed the staff were friendly throughout, though no one bothered to inquire why I left half of my starter.
With a bill of £66 per person with no pre-dinner drinks, no coffee and a moderate wine, this did not feel like good value for money at all. The restaurant had only been open a few days, and so perhaps some of the issues with the dishes were teething troubles that will be improved, but then that is what soft openings are for, yet there was no such concession here. Things are not working well in a restaurant when the best thing that you taste is bought-in bread. Some main courses were £35 or more, and so the prices imply a level of cooking that is considerably higher than what was encountered this evening.
The lighting was too dark for decent photos of the food.