Tramshed, Shoreditch. Photo © Jason Lowe
The cult of the no choice menu is upon us with a furious vengeance. Well, just two choices anyway. Mark Hix has pushed this growing London trend to the 'nth degree' by using just one beef supplier and one chicken farm. Hardcore. Choice is so 1995 dahhling.
Mark Hix's latest offering is housed in the cavernous Grade II-listed Tramshed building in Shoreditch, with Head Chef Darren Lock pulling the strings. Choose between steak that has been aged in a Himalayan Salt chamber, or chicken. Yes, really. The first Himalayan Salt chamber in Europe, the therapeutic benefits used by the Chinese for over a thousand years are applied to the dry ageing of the beef. Sounds total whack? The salt certainly looks like it's on some sort of trip, varying in colours from white through to hallucinogenic pink - freaky, baby. The clever science argument posits that the negative ions from the salt counteract the positive ions of the meat, resulting in a "sweet and flavoursome product". Yep, I'm tripping on those details too.
The 'Mighty Marbled' beef is sourced solely from one supplier, Hannan Meats in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, and is non-breed specific but by its nature is from traditional breed cattle, so likely to be Hereford, Angus or Shorthorn. Choose from 8oz (£20), 16oz (£40) and 24oz (£60). Everything is served with chips or salad, the beef pressing the right buttons and satisfying any steak cravings.
The chooks? These are coming from Wooley Park Farm and fourth generation farmers Roz and Russell Candy in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire. All the birds are hatched, grown and slaughtered on site. Happy happy, joy joy, is the chicken mantra here.
Chickens are served ceremoniously with their "legs in the air like they just don't care" (my words, not theirs), ready to be carved at the table. Upended onto a spike with feet and claws still intact, a £25 bird is for two or three to share. Plenty of proper chickeny flavour, juices dripping into the bowl beneath, between two this feels like great value - between three for £8.30 a portion it feels like manna from heaven in these straitened times. There's a Spring Chicken at £15.50 designed for one, which feels like you're peering through the window into the real party beyond, so better to find a mate and plough into one of the co-stars. We did both on separate visits and preferred the ceremony of Big Bird.
Sharing starters at £7.50 per person include Yorkshire puddings with whipped chicken livers, and smoked Cornish sardines with beets and horseradish. Grazing at the bar will give you other options: Quail with rosemary (£4.50); Devilled chicken hearts (£3.25); Salted Ox cheek and horseradish croquettes (£3.25); Radishes with celery salt and mayonnaise (£3.25).
Puddings, if you really must stray from the maint event, are Ronnie's apple pie and custard, a bowl of Oakchurch Farm strawberries, or Raspberry cheesecake. All £5.75.
Perhaps most impressive is the gargantuan centrepiece dominating the room, 'Cock and Bull', an embalmed cow with a chicken on its back, courtesy of Hix's mate Damien Hirst. Only a copy of Will Self's 'Cock and Bull' is missing. Complete the artistic love-in by quaffing a bottle of 'Tonnix' (£29.75) from the Douro, Portugal, illustrated by another of Mark's buddies Tracey Emin.
'Ditch That Bitch', 'Dizzee Marmalade', 'Shipfaced', just a few of the cocktails created by Nick Strangeway, Hix's cocktail guru at Mark's bar in Soho. Getting messy on cocktails in Shoreditch still has a lot going for it, and the ones here are fun and made with no shortage of love.
Less is more. Choice is dead. That's not a Cock and Bull story.
Photography © Jason Lowe
32 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3LX
Online booking available here
Monday to Sunday: 12:00 - Late
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