What can you tell us about HIDE?
Put simply, this is the next restaurant from Ollie Dabbous, whose eponymous Dabbous was such a huge hit in Fitzrovia. That eventually closed last year, since when he teamed up with the Henrietta hotel, and now he's opened this massive new restaurant on Piccadilly.
And it's a restaurant of three parts, yes?
That and more. The restaurant is made up of Above - that's the "fancier" part of the restaurant (for lack of a better word) which is on the first floor, and is really all about the tasting menu experience. Then there's Ground - which serves an a la carte menu, and lastly Below which is the bar. It's Ground and Below that we're looking at in this Test Drive (and you can see more of the whole restaurant here).
The whole place looks stunning, that's for sure and, clearly, a shedload of cash has been spent on it.
Where is the restaurant?
It's right on Piccadilly. Head to Green Park tube and walk about two minutes down the road (towards Hyde Park Corner) and you'll find it on the north side.
Where should we meet for a drink first?
If you can grab a seat - then come for a pre-dinner drink at Below, their basement bar. It can get full down here quite quickly so you may not be in luck (and you can't book a space). But if you are, you're in for a treat.
The cocktails are once again by Oskar Kinberg,, who collaborated with Dabbous on the basement bar at his previous restaurant. The cocktails are Mayfair priced - around the £15 mark - and the servings veer on the small side, but from our experience, they are exceptionally good - quality over quantity.
Of the cocktails, we can certainly recommend the Blunderbuss (Johnny Walker Gold Label, brown butter, Cocchi Americano, Pedro Ximinez and Amontillado sherries - £16.50), which is easily one of the best cocktails we've had this year. Note that you either have to be eating at HIDE or you'll have to get some snacks with your cocktails - they don't have a drinks-only licence.
If you need somewhere else to drink nearby, we'd also recommend the nearby Shepherd Market Wine House.
Once we're done in the bar, what's a good seat upstairs?
We think right at the front, by the window. Perfect for people watching.
And how is the menu presented?
As mentioned, HIDE on the ground floor is a more traditional a la carte all-day restaurant, albeit that everything on the menu has something of a Dabbous twist. For example, come for breakfast and you can order a croissant - but it's not just any old croissant - you'll get a birch sap-drizzled croissant impaled on a liquorice stick.
As well as the pastries, we've eaten some dishes from Upstairs at the preview, but this time we were in for dinner on Ground. The menu is divided into To graze, Starters, Mains & sides, Desserts and cheese. Some initial advice - absolutely order the excellent bread basket (£6) and try to keep at least some of it to mop up various bits and pieces throughout the meal.
And of the dishes you had - are there any specific recommendations?
We didn't have a duff dish all night, and in many respects have barely scratched the surface of the menu. We didn't order this time, but the tobacco smoked beef tartare (£9) is a Dabbous speciality - if you haven't tried it at his last restaurant, you'll want to order it here.
As for the rest of what we tried - here are our tips...
Have one of the charcoal baked flatbreads - the Dabbous flatbreads at Henrietta were a highlight and the ones here are great too. Expect them to change regularly but if the cep shavings and lemon thyme flatbread (£9) is available, head straight for that.
The chestnut parcels in a light duck broth (£12) are essentially veggy pasta in broth. It's hard to describe why this is so good, but it's an essential order, we think.
The grilled langoustines with rosemary and sea truffle were also exceptional - with an aroma that hits you as soon as the dish is laid on the table. At £28, it's on the pricey side though.
We also had the steamed turbot at a preview earlier this year and can highly recommend that too. You'll also want the mash and gravy (£8) on top of that. It doesn't quite top Pitt Cue's bone marrow mash, but it is pretty damned good.
And should we leave room for dessert?
Absolutely - there's a showstopper on the dessert list in the form of the acorn cake. The best way we can describe this is as a pastry version of a rum baba - which is every bit as wonderful as it sounds and can easily be shared between two.
It comes with a choice of two rums that are poured over the cake at your table. And you can pimp the cake up further with Glendronach 18yo (an extra £7) or to the max with Grand Marnier Quintessence (a rather eye-watering £40 supplement).
And good as the acorn cake is - we also loved the soft serve ice cream sundae (barley malt ice cream, warm Gianduja, pecans, azuki beans - £8) and you'll find it hard to not order the mini canales cooked in beeswax at four for £4 (topped with a boozy cherry) and a perfect way to end the meal.
How about drinks?
The restaurant has been created in partnership with Hedonism Wines - so while there is a decent wine list in the cellar downstairs, they'll also present you with an iPad which has the entire stock from the shop on it. Which is a lot. If you fancy something on this menu, it'll take 15 minutes to get to your table, so you could always do some research on their website.
There are significant differences between this and the original Dabbous. It's very Mayfair, for a start, and that can be seen in the prices. And you'll probably see a difference in the clientele here too - we're in hedge fund territory, so expect big spenders to be putting the restaurant through its paces. We also spotted a lot of Russians in, obviously keen to see what Hedonism Wines owner Yevgeny Chichvarkin's new gaff was like.
That said, it's hard not to be impressed by the food on offer at HIDE - all the dishes seem to just take things a little further than you might expect (and that's a good thing). Dabbous is clearly on top form and expanding to a much larger kitchen space is suiting him. And the whole building is a damned impressive endeavour - there's nothing else quite like it in town.
We haven't been to Above, but we think Ground is a good way to introduce yourself to HIDE (even if it's just popping along for tea and a croissant).
Hot Dinners were invited to HIDE. Prices are correct at the time of writing.
More about HIDE
Where is it? 85 Piccadilly, London W1J 7NB
Find out more: See their website
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