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The Inimitable HIX

The Inimitable HIX

‘Mark’ Our Words. He practically wrote the cookbook on the new British cuisine.

Next up: Hix Belgravia, in the Thompson’s equally tasteful new hotel Belgraves. Unlike his fellow British restaurateur—the vain and vitriolic Gordon Ramsay—chef and restaurateur Mark Hix lets his food do all the sinful dishing.

Since 2008, when he opened his Dickensian throwback Hix Oyster & Chop House in London’s old-timey Smithfield district (fatefully posited by a century’s old meat market), the soft-spoken Hix has been London Town’s head honcho for all things hearty, unpretentious, and damned tasty. But to call the kitchen Hix’s only outlet would be misleading. He’s the author of a weekly newspaper column in The Independent, where he spins elaborate but quite home-doable recipes, with bacon and duck making frequent guest appearances.

Does Mark Hix—also British Esquire contributor—find writing about food easier than preparing it? “Not easier, but it helps when you’re working with food all the time to write about it,” says the gourmand-cum-scribe. “I’m always searching for new ingredients, trying to come up with new ideas, changing the menu in the restaurants daily. So coming up with new recipes every week after ten years of writing for The Independent, it tends to flow quite well, really.”

There’s no question that Hix—who once led legendary London haunts Le Caprice and The Ivy as the chef director for Caprice Holdings—is a seasoned expert on seasonal and regional cuisine—dreams up cuisine the way Brits were meant to eat it. All of his current restaurants—Hix Oyster & Fish House, and Hix among them—flaunt a reverence for the traditions of British fare, resurrecting dishes of yore like decadent oyster pie, or mutton chop, cooked straight on the bone.

Now that he’s mastered British nosh, Hix admits it’s time to try something new, if only to catch his devotees off guard. Enter the Thompson Group, who tapped the chef to mastermind the fare at its new London hotel, Belgraves. “People are probably expecting me to do ‘British’ again, and everyone seems to be jumping on that bandwagon these days,” he says. “But this one is going to have a bit more of international feel, with Asian and Italian influences. The British staples—with a twist—will be there, but there’ll be a different accent to the menu.”

Another nod to the natives: The Hix Belgravia will include a smoking garden, despite the city’s anti-puffery rules. “I’ve never really done a restaurant with a smoking garden, but I recognize the demand to smoke cigars and cigarettes while you eat,” Hix says. Brits, it turns out, will be Brits.

Story: Ben Barna