Boards £4.50 - £9.00
Plates £10.00 - £28.00 | Desserts £9.00
Cooking 5/10 | Service 3/5
Flavour 3.5/5 | Value 1/5
Regular readers will know of my distaste for restaurants with Gaelic names, Glaschu, Taisteal and the like. Well one way to avoid such minor irritations is to go south. To London town, for one of our regular culinary meetings with the Former Brewing Giant. We have complete faith in his judgment. He's never taken us to a duff place yet, so when he tells us to head to King's Cross we bat nary an eyelid.
To Coal Drops Yard, once site of London's principal coal depot. Believe me, the city went through rather a lot in the 19th century. There may or may not have been some Gaelic to be heard there and, I suspect, quite a few Anglo Saxon words. But Latin?
Hicce, that's where we were headed. Hickey, as in the American word for a love bite? Nope, they claim it's pronounced each-ay, and that it means of the moment. More prosaically, my Latin dictionary says it means now. It's a word which passed me by in my six years of study. Bring this to Scotland and I suppose they'd call it soirbh. or bho nis, or possibly even mus-nis, but I digress.
It took us a little while to locate the place. As you will see from the photo, a very stylish dining area. Today, however, we were having none of that, being seduced by bright May sunshine. Off to the outside terrace we head. Lovely. I'd looked at the menu in advance, and was confused. We're all now well aware of the small plates idea, but for once I could have done with someone to explain the concept. The menu is divided into boards and plates. Bread aside, the former are under four headings, veg/cheese/seafood/charcuterie. Under each of these headings there are three choices, prices ranging from £7.50 to £9.50. Small plates, clearly. But under plates (hicce is a lower case only place) we find the headings veg, fish and meat. Three options again, each option having two prices. These range from £10 to £28, leaving one a little confused between the respective sizes of anything. There are also three side dishes on offer.
So we take the easy option, the experience menu, four courses at £65 a head. How you do courses from a small plates menu I don't know. We're keen to chat, so we trust them to feed us. At that price, in fact, we are expecting to be fed to within an inch of our lives. For the first time in our experience the FBG is accompanied by his lovely, hard working other half R, who is usually running some multinational company or other when we're out stravaiging. None of us is a fussy eater, but R does tell our server that she doesn't like lamb.
Research has disclosed that owner Pip Lacey not only participated in the Great British Menu, but that her dish made it all the way to the banquet. We settle down, awaiting great things.
First up are a couple of sharing boards. There's cheese and ham and bread, and a flavourless
kohlrabi kimchi. A couple of terrines, mushroom and rabbit, nice enough but no better than you might buy at the M & S deli counter. The only obvious product of a chef's art was a dish of lentils, served cold, and topped with a few crisps. Odd.
Then there arrived a selection of small plates. A ceviche lacking the citrussy sparkle. Heritage tomatoes topped with cashews, which rather overwhelmed the main ingredient. A couple of the side dishes. Miso potatoes from which any flavour of miso was lacking, and a very fine plate featuring crispy kale and pear. I'm guessing that this all comprised the
We were then served three plates from the meat section, two of these being lamb. (The one which R said she didn't eat, remember?) There was also a chicken dish which I didn't get to taste, as we had to give most of it to the non lamb eater.
There were three options for dessert on the main menu. I would have been delighted to sample chocolate mousse with pistachio, strawberry and mango, or pinepple tempura with rum and coconut sorbet. I don't much care for creme caramel, but four plates of it were plonked in front of us.
Reviewing hicce five years ago, just after it opened, Grace Dent described this pud as magical and life changing, and as a not to be missed dish for London gluttons. How are the mighty fallen. The only thing celestial about this undersweetened confection were the moon like craters on its surface, clear evidence that a careless cook has made it at the incorrect temperature*.
I mentioned at the outset that it seemed a little pricey. Writing this review I went through everything we ate, and worked out precisely what it would have cost us had we ordered individual items. If the ceviche and tomato dishes were large ones (judge for yourselves from the photos), our £260 would have been £232.90: if, as I suspect, they were small, we should have paid £208.90.
The city itself looked great, decked out for the coronation. We, on the other hand, had just been taken for a right royal ripoff. Shame on you, Pip Lacey,
*If you want to know how to make it properly, read today's Tom Cooks! for my mum's version.