Mark Hix has had a good recession. No, scratch that: he’s had an amazing recession. The former head chef of the Caprice group opened the first restaurant of his own, Hix Oyster & Chop House, in April 2008. You’d have thought that was just about the worst time imaginable to start a new business, but Hix has had nothing but success and acclaim, and his business has grown at astonishing speed. Four years later, Hix has seven restaurants and a bar, all of them busy. That would be good going at any time, but in the face of the current headwinds it’s outstanding.
The most recent of these restaurants is Tramshed in Shoreditch. The building, built in 1905, was an electricity generating station for trams, and Hix has for some time had his eye on the place; an earlier attempt to buy it hit planning trouble, but he persevered. As soon as you walk in, you can see why: it’s a dramatic, high-ceilinged, open space, with a bar to one side and a gallery up above at the far end. Dominating it are two works by Damien Hirst: a vitrine of a cow with a chicken on its back at the front of the restaurant, and a painting of a cartoon cow and chicken at the back. They look expensive.
At this point, even the most casual walk-in customer may be starting to say to themselves: I wonder if this place has something to do with cows and chickens? The answer is yes. It has everything to do with cows and chickens. In fact, it has so much to do with cows and chickens that it has nothing to do with anything else. Roast chicken and steak are the only main courses on the menu. You can have a chicken to share between two of you, or a sirloin steak of 250g, 500g, 750g or 1kg. And that’s it, save for chicken or steak salad, for customers determined to be difficult. The bareness of this is pretty startling; it’s brave, I suppose, but it’s going out on quite a limb. What if you don’t feel like roast chicken or steak? You’re in the wrong restaurant, simple as that. Are people going to catch on to the idea? Hmm…
Strange Random Steak Quote:
“My favorite animal is steak.” ― Fran Lebowitz
- Grace and Flavour: Tramshed (standard.co.uk)
- Tramshed: Mark Hix’s new joint is restaurant of the week (thisislondon.co.uk)
- Damien Hirst Sculpture at London Restaurant Tramshed (trendland.com)
- Damien Hirst artwork for London restaurant is not for PETA’s veggie lovers (bornrich.com)
- A load of Cock and Bull? (beatsandbobs.com)
- Damien Hirst Creates Formaldehyde Artwork For New London Restaurant [Pics] (psfk.com)
- On the buffers at Tramshed (kitchengraffiti.wordpress.com)
- True Brit: The Independent’s Mark Hix celebrates a decade creating classic recipes (independent.co.uk)