Mayfair is in the heart of London and one of the divine souls in the heart of Mayfair is Brown’s Hotel, it has a fascinating history hosting distinguished guests since 1837, one of the guests being Alexander Graham Bell who made the first ever telephone call from the sophisticated hotel. A joy for me was learning the great Rudyard Kipling was so inspired by the hotel he wrote many of his novels whilst staying there. Brown’s Hotel was also home to the first hotel restaurant, formerly guests had dined in the privacy of their own rooms. I went along to the amazing HIX at The Albemarle to taste the finest quality cooking by Executive Chef Lee Streeton and Director of Food Mark Hix. The two have created an outstanding menu using British classics and carefully sourcing local, seasoned ingredients, this is one of my favourite things in restaurants to know where my food is from!
The decadence of HIX at the Albemarle at Rocco Forte’s Brown Hotel hits you as soon as you enter the fine eatery. HIX celebrates British art and cuisine and the room is old world with dark woods, a fire place and a gorgeous green covering on the seats. The art is a main feature in the room and I suggest you ask one of the helpful staff for a guide which showcases the art on offer, there are some fine British pieces from Michael Landy, Peter Peri, Rankin and Tracey Emin (to name a few!)
My fellow diner, Charlotte, and I were greeted with a glass of Billecart-Salmon Rose Champagne, its balance and its delicacy has made it a revered wine appreciated by everyone. We were also served sough dough bread with unsalted butter which was lovely to taste while deciding on what to eat. Miki Karaba became our sommelier for the evening and chose Chateau Du Tertre from the region of Margaux, year 2003. To complement the menu there is a comprehensive list of over 400 wines, so you are spoilt for choice!
I started with salmon which was very light, perfectly fresh and pink. It parted like the red sea as I cut away at the fish. The added lemon gave a juicy citrus flavour and the bread which was delivered on a separate plate I found a lovely touch. Charlotte had the HIX speciality snails which were cooked to perfection and well matched to the salty wild boar bacon. Black pudding was added to the dish, making the flavour very meaty and perfect for a winters evening in front of the HIX fireplace! Our suggestion was sent to the Chef as we feel a little less black pudding would have made the dish more flavoursome as the snails were overpowered by the pudding.
We then had a course breaker of 200g of Asparagus which was steamed and served with traditional Hollandaise sauce. The asparagus was in season and the Chef had chosen the freshest and tastiest asparagus – the knife sliced through with perfection. I find the best way to eat it is steamed and that is what we had at HIX served on a silver platter with a gorgeous green that matched the interiors. The wine chosen by Miki still worked with the tastes of the asparagus. It was a great interlude till the next course.
For the main event I chose the spelt risotto with flaked rabbit in a delightful dish with strong flavours and a beautiful look. The rabbit was cooked well and did not bore like some risottos I have tasted before! We added a side dish of carrots and creamed spinach which worked well with my dish and Charlotte’s, these additions were served in silver dishes and looked elegant on the table. Charlotte opted for the deer, of course, presented beautifully and cooked to the recommended serving of rare to medium; it was plump, red and juicy. The deer was served with deep fried haggis which gave the dish an unusual twist.
Dessert for me was a British classic – Eton Mess, after the great British events we have at the moment I felt it was perfectly fitting to dine on the classic dessert. The HIX creation of Eton Mess was divine and perfect for a summer day. Charlotte also opted for a British classic – a Treacle Tart presented with Neals Yard crème fraîche, the sweet flavours of the tart complimented the sour creme perfectly and what a generous slice of tart it was! We were served a Orenus Tokaji by Miki using the grape variety Furmint from 2008.
We then ended the meal by heading into the cocktail bar – named The Donovan Bar with a menu that had nine pages of cocktails with imaginative names and a history of the drinks in a very sturdy book! We decided on an espresso martini which was crafted well with rum and a different touch of a walnut and chocolate sprinkles. The walls are covered in creative photographs by Terence Donovan (whom the bar is named after) there are over 50 of Terence’s iconic black and white prints (a handy guide can be provided if you ask nicely). The pictures are great to peruse over and the added touch of live music gave a stunning finale to our time at Brown’s Hotel. I look forward to returning again soon, not only to be greeted by the warm and inviting staff but to taste the joyous food and get lost in the beautiful British art and culture.
HIX at The Albemarle
London, W1S 4BP