Hix Oyster & Chop House – four years ago. Since then, he has opened an additional five London restaurants featuring creative British cuisine.
I recently stopped by Hix, located just steps from London’s historic Smithfield Market, to chat with chef Martin Sweeney. I sat at the marble oyster bar, listening to Martin speak with pride about oysters from the British Isles.
At the outset, he explained that during the months without a “R”, Hix, like all restaurants in the UK, serves only rock (farmed) oysters. The rest of the year, native oysters are available.
The more he talked about the oysters at Hix, the more it seemed that Martin had a personal relationship with the oystermen who supplied the restaurant. When I asked why, he simply responded, “When it comes to oysters, locality is the key.”
Martin brought over a small platter with three pairs of oysters for us to share. He pulled me a pint of local beer.
“First, try these rocks from Elbury Cove near Dorset. We get them from a man named Nigel.”
The chunky oyster was great. Clean, with a bit of a mineral finish.
“Now, for a bit of contrast, try the Cumbrae rock oysters from Scotland’s West Coast.”
These plump oysters sat deep in their shells. They tasted nutty and significantly saltier than the Elbury Cove oysters.
My final oyster was from the Camel Estuary on the north coast of Cornwall. It was massive and meaty, with a slight crunch. And as it turned out, my favorite of the three offered.
The after work crowd had begun to trickle in, and Martin had to head back to get the evening started. I’m glad I had the chance to stop by.
Hix Oyster & Chop House
36-37 Greenhill's Rents
London, EC1M 6BN, United Kingdom
020 7017 1930