As a lover of fine food and great wine, there are few more exciting places that you can visit in London than Hide restaurant in Mayfair. This is a collaboration between legendary chef Oliver Dabbous and Hedonism wines (a wine shop in Mayfair with the most incredible wine list – for example bottles of Chateau d’Yquem going back to the nineteenth century). I visited there recently for a blow-out meal to celebrate getting my bonus – and boy, this is the place to go for a blow-out meal!
As you would expect the wine-list is simply stellar, essentially the wine list is the wines available from Hedonism; but also the food is utterly fabulous. The first thing, however, that strikes you when you walk into the restaurant is how impressive it is from an aesthetic perspective. There are a number of different levels, with a subterranean cool cocktail bar where you can get snacks and a ground floor casual-dining room with dramatically high ceilings. We, however, ascended the most beautiful staircase (which apparently cost £2m!) to the fine-dining restaurant (called Hide Above), which Oliver Dabbous was given a Michelin star last year. Everything in the restaurant had been thought of down to the very finest details, including a little hidden drawer in each table which contained an iPad with the wine list on (so that you can order wines to purchase from Hedonism, should you discover something that you particularly like), printed copies of the menu and wine list to remind you of what is coming next and charging points for mobiles should they run out of juice whilst you’re snapping all of your food – very modern!
So, now onto the decadence.
To accompany the tasting menu in Hide Above you can choose accompanying wine flights at different price levels: “classic, “iconic”, or “hedonistic”. I opted for the “iconic” selection, I did look with lust at the “hedonistic” selection which contained some simply incredible wines, but it was a little above what my bonus allowed me to stretch to! Overall there were about nine courses (plus snacks, pre-desserts, etc.) so I will take you through some of the highlights (or else this will turn into a rather lengthy piece).
We started with some rather delicious snacks of pickled vegetables, selections of smoked meats, artisan breads and sumptuous home-made butter, we had an appetizer of Celeriac with Chervil, Angelica Seed and ripe Avocado served with a lovely Trentino-Alto Adiage Pinot Bianco. After this we moved on to Pertuis Asparagus grilled over Charcoal served with this morning’s Ricotta and Basil Pesto, as you can see from the picture this dish looked absolutely beautiful with vibrant green colour from the asparagus and the pesto. The Ricotta had quite a lot of structure and a pleasant rich, creaminess to it.
This was served with a 2002 Nikolaihof Vinothek Riesling (Wachau, Austria), which had a wonderfully expressive nose, which was rich and aromatic, with that characteristic petrol note present. On the palate the wine was broad and rich with nice fruit notes (red apple) and a little bit of a marmalade-style profile, without being sweet. A lovely, clean, fresh and vibrant wine that was the perfect match for the dish.
The next highlight for me was the Cornish Lobster baked in Fig Leaves over Charcoal, served with a Minestrone of the Claw. I mean, anytime you see lobster on a menu you get excited, right?! This lobster was cooked on a BBQ we were told, I’ve no idea how they could do this as it was as light and delicate and juicy as you would want it to be. It was served with a side dish made from the claw meat which was rich and fragrant. This was a properly hedonistic dish – I loved it.
So, to the wine. You had a choice for this course and I’ll admit I was a little sceptical as I was directed away from a 1997 Corton Grand Cru from Domaine Ravaut to a 2000 Pouilly-Fuisse Collection Privee Chateau de Fuisse (Burgundy). I’ve nothing against Pouilly-Fuisse, I just didn’t think of them as being in the same league as a Corton and the opportunity to try a Grand Cru seemed too good to pass up. However, our sommelier said that he really felt we should try the Pouilly-Fuisse, so as he is the expert I took his advice. Man, was I glad that I did! The wine was simply incredible, rich and fragrant, decadent. Butter notes with a toasty apple compote and a slightest hint of grassiness. I absolutely adored this wine, so much so that when he told me that I could buy this bottle from Hedonism and have it in time for before I left the restaurant that evening I bought two bottles!
How do you follow that up? Well, the next course was Roast Herdwick Lamb, smoked Cockles, Baked Turnip and Nasturtium Dressing. Once more the lamb had been cooked on a BBQ (something of a house speciality I think), but cooked low and slow on the bone for at least eight hours. The colour of the lamb on the dish was absolutely stunning – a uniform light pink which just invites you to dive in! I must say that I found the baked turnip a little odd on the plate, not sure it worked for me, but there was a simply delicious turnip purée which had a great flavour to it. The sauce was also a great addition, with the nasturtium dressing adding a little bit of acidity and bitterness to the plate.
I was thrilled to see that this was served with a 2005 Ornellaia (Bolgheri, Italy), I think this was my first try of this legendary wine – I’ve had their second wine before but not the main event. The nose was rather exotic with dark fruit prevalent (blackcurrant and blackberry) with slight touches of menthol and Hawthorne adding breadth. On the palate it was really full-bodied and powerful without being overbearing. As you would expect from a wine of this age, the deeper and earthier notes are coming through that gave the wine a lovely range of flavours and depth. You can see why this wine goes for hundreds of pounds a bottle; I’d love to be stashing some of this in my cellar…
Long-suffering readers of this blog will know that I always like to take up the option of a cheese course in a tasting menu and here was no exception. The cheese trolley was wheeled across with great ceremony, I loved the fact that all of the cheeses were kept under bell-jars in order to keep their aromas from over-whelming the restaurant. I went for a selection of cheeses across the spectrum, I particularly liked the Brie that had a smattering of black truffle going through it and a cheese called “Napoleon” that had won some award that I’m struggling to remember now.
When it came to a wine match for these cheeses, I was first offered some port (as usual) but then they mentioned that they had a rather special bottle of Madeira which piqued my interest straight away, particularly given my trip there last year. They then proceeded to bring in a simply huge bottle of 1957 Blandy’s Bual, which required two people to pour a glass! The wine sat a beautiful dark, mahogany in the glass, on the nose it was wonderfully complex with floral notes accompanying rich butterscotch and honey notes. On the palate it was pleasingly warming and velvety with a decent swig of acidity keeping it balanced. Just perfect.
After this we moved onto the sweets and started with Green olive and olive oil ice cream, which was sat rather impressively in a block of ice! The main event, however, was the Strawberry and Beech Leaf Salad, served with Clotted Cream which was absolutely beautifully presented on the plate. There was a mix of types of strawberries, including some that had been freeze-dried and caramelised. The beech-leaf salad gave the dish a nice savoury element (which sounds odd in a dessert, but it worked really well) and the clotted cream did what you want clotted cream to – giving a real richness and creaminess to the plate. This was a very posh take on the classic English summer-pud of strawberries and cream.
To go with this we had a 1997 Moulin Touchais (Loire), which had wonderful notes of lychee and apricot on the nose. I thought I detected a bit of botrytis on the nose too, but I was told that there wasn’t any. On the palate it was golden and syrupy with a slightly cooked taste. I was expecting a little more from the taste and thought it fell a little short overall. Still, it was a lovely way to finish an incredible meal.
After all of this extravagance, our waiters asked if we would like to take a quick tour of their cellars – to which the obvious answer was YES! Cue immense wine-porn, walking past bottles of wine that I have read about and could only dream about buying – some of the standouts being half bottles of 1964 La Mission Haut-Brion (£358), 1989 Domaine Romanee-Conti (£21,840) and 1945 Mouton-Rothschild (£17,840). Better keep buying those lottery tickets!!
As you have no doubt gathered, this was a truly memorable dining experience and I would highly recommend visiting Hide. Word of warning: it is not cheap and you should be prepared to spend quite a lot of money. Value is a very subjective thing and depends on a lot of factors, however for the experience that we had and that memories it gave I felt that this was worth every penny.