New on Wine List Confidential: Hix Oyster and Chop House

Tucked away off Cowcross Street close to Smithfield Market, Mark Hix’s first restaurant post being chef director of Caprice Holdings remains a favourite, being a perfect British restaurant: hospitable, with consistent, carefully sourced and expertly prepared dishes, honest ales, creative cocktails and a fairly priced wine list.

By the bottle, the list is conveniently divided into fixed price options of £35 (including Vouvray ‘Spring’ Sec, Vincent Careme), £45 (Pulenta La Flor Malbec), £55 (Wild Boy Chardonnay, Au Bon Climat) and £65 (Gembrook Hill Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley). Of the bands, Hix says: ‘I discussed the idea with John Hutton, MD of Fields Morris & Verdin nine years ago when opening the Oyster & Chop house, but never followed through, then recently decided to put it back into action and it works well, making it easy to navigate through the list.’ There is also a cellar list, including Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Ridge Monte Bello and Vega Sicilia Unico.

Along with friend and fisherman-restaurateur, Mitch Tonks, Hix produces ‘Tonnix’ in collaboration with Douro producer, Quinta de la Rosa. ‘It happened spontaneously,’ he recalls. ‘We were on a wine trip to Portugal, and Mitch said, shall we do a white wine to go with seafood? During the course of the day, we drank a lot of white wine, coming up with the name around the table, being half Tonks and half Hix. Google revealed Tonix was the name of a sports brand, so we stuck an extra ‘n’ in. Needing the label, I sent a message to Tracey [Emin], and she came up with it.’ The resulting wines are available by the glass or even as an 18 litres goliath.

Hix isn’t evangelical about wine and food matching. ‘We don’t go too mad – taste is personal. Do you really want to listen to a sommelier trying to convince you into eating a certain dish with a certain wine?’

Hix has visited a large percentage of wine producers, including Rioja’s Alvaro Palacios and Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf du Pape, sometimes several times. ‘It’s always very worthwile, getting amongst it in the thick of it, making it much easier sell the wine to the customers.’

Dishes may include rock oysters with spicy sausages or fried with ponzu dressing or scotch bonnet mayonnaise, then horseradish soup with Glenarm estate oxtail, fleshy hake head with clams, Glenarm Estate 85 day extra aged rib steak on the bone, and finally a scoop of ‘Credit Crunch’ ice cream with hot chocolate sauce, or, more decadently, Black Cow vodka espresso martini shaken with maple syrup, partnered with Peruvian Gold chocolate mousse.

To see the WLC position and scores for this review click here

 

Wine List Confidential, brought to you by the drinks business, is the first platform to rank London’s restaurants on the strength of their wine list alone, providing a comprehensive guide to the best restaurants in the capital for wine lovers.

Restaurants are graded on a 100-point scale based on five criteria: size, value, service, range and originality. For a full guide to London’s best wine lists visit winelistconfidential.com

the drinks business published the inaugural 2017 Wine List Confidential: One to Sixty-One guide last year. We are currently working on a new 2018 edition and are busy re-reviewing top-scoring restaurants and adding new entries to the database. Check back later in the year for final scoring and position of restaurants. 

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