LONDON EATERIES – Fix up for a Fine Dining experience which is well on the way to being the hidden jewel in East London’s culinary crown
It was on the day of the tube strike at the beginning of August that we decide to try out the latest E London opening to catch out eagle eye. The streets were pretty much deserted as folk decided to stay at home rather than face the struggles of trying to navigate the capital by fighting for a Boris bike, or wrestle with gaggles of commuters for prized positions on buses, that would be otherwise empty on any normal day. We toyed with the decision to visit on such a barren day, thinking we wouldn’t get the best of the place but having seen the pictures of the goods on offer on the website – which simply put it look like works of art, curiosity got the better of us. And so myself and my guest made the pilgrimage to Hackney – and well, aren’t we glad we did.
Fix the new venture from James Cochran (ex Ledbury) is nestled on the corner of Morning Lane in Hackney and covers the corner ground level and soon to be down stairs space there. There’s a chilled welcoming vibe to the place, relaxed with good music, colourful wall art and a mis-match of furniture – giving it a laid back lived in feel. We were one of 2 couples in the place which was a real shame as atmosphere was at a minimum… but on the upside meant we had the full attention of the kitchen and service so we could really see what these guys were made off!
The bubbly waitress was straight over to us within a few minutes of seat to seat and happily showed us through the menu. The structure of the menu is 2 tasting menus, one at 35 for 5 courses one at 55 for 8 courses, and for those wanting something less structured a mixFix where you’re free to mix up additional dishes. The cocktails are all made with cold press juice- apparently the most health happy way to juice for those not on the juicing pulse, and are served long – perfect for summer. I plumped for a Fashion Killer which was gin based with apple and wild elderflower. It was so refreshing i was looking at the bottom of the glass in a few minutes so moved onto the house red which was simple DELISCIOUS and at £6 a glass – welcomingly generous.
So to the food… Well I had probably asked the chefs worst nightmare to come and dine with me – my companion has food allergies galore. From Gluten to Rye to beef to broccoli to potato – she’s probably allergic to more food than she can eat – however after telling the kitchen they were more than accommodating and willing to adapt dishes on the menu to fit.
The first course brought out and explained by James Cochran, the wonderful head chef, was deep fried courgettes and smoked milk. The courgettes were superbly seasoned, and the smoked milk dip was luxuriously silky and deeply smoky. The only other time I’d had smoked milk before was at Ametsa with Arzak instruction. Arzak is an ex El Buili chef so I could see that ambitions were high and I have to say this time it was usually as fabulous as at Arzak. Deep smoky flavours complemented the courgette –very simple but incredibly effective and a great start. Next up was another culinary fairytale and a dish that turned to be one of my favourites – tomato tea, pickled sardines and sourdough. The tomato tea was intense with flavour, the picked sardines not over powering and the sourdough probably the best I’ve ever had, unexpectedly light as air. Such a well balanced dish that would have been so easy to get wrong – but was totally delicious.
So far, so good! Course 3 was treacle smoked salmon, which is smoked on the premises and all the better for it. Instead of the usual few slivers of greasy salmon we got a nice smoked hulk of fish This was served with zingy cubes of apple and a dry crumb that was deep and complemented the salmon perfectly. The textures and flavours working perfectly together, and the execution spot on. Insanely happy so far we looked forwards to our next course.
On paper the next course looked like something so abstract that you’d think that they’d made a mistake whilst printing the menus .. Carrots, coffee, curd and orange. Now if that doesn’t address the full spectrum of sweet, milky, alkaline and acidic?! However when it came … carrots soaked in coffee with the curd and orange puree as a side we were pretty much blown away. This is chef is brave and more than capable of putting his money where his mouth is.. Unreal… The carrots… defiantly carrot tasting and defiantly coffee tasting, but perfectly well balanced. The orange puree smooth and not too tart as to clash with the curd.. the whole thing a total revelation.
And so to dish 4, half way through and pretty much blew away so far… The next course was leeks, mussels and wait for it … granola… amazing! The leeks were burnt and buttery, and the texture and oaty taste of the granola worked really well, and when all put with the mussels which reminded us of curiously of snails when with the butter – the whole was quite a memorable mouthful. Again not a bad word to say.
Next up was the meat course. My favourite and guess what? I wasn’t disappointed at all. The 12 hour cooked beef short rib was accompanied by smoked bone marrow( yum) pecans and onion. The rib was a little dry for me, but the smoked bone marrow which melted over it put swift remedy to that, and the whole dish was just moreish and totally satisfying.
Desserts honestly deserve their own review. In short a palate cleansing cherry, Pimms, cucumber sorbet and white chocolate assembly has to be tasted to be believed. Finally there were warm fluffy donuts and salted caramel, plus a cheesecake milkshake – YES milkshake, which made sure I was on a diet for the rest of the week. We accompanied the whole experience with the house red which was simply gorgeous and well selected to accompany and at 6 pound a glass a total steal!
I have raved about this place I know and seriously its is totally justified. We both agreed that this menu had been one of the most innovative and technically well executed that we’d had for as long as we both could remember – but totally unpretentious and understated to its absolute credit. The head chef James Cochran has concocted a menu so interesting and varied to the extreme yet subtle and well balanced – you can’t help but wonder what goes on in his mind! I have dinned in so many restaurants and where the ambition of the chef and the menu far surpasses the actual skill of execution – but not here. Cochran succeeds where so many other chefs in similarly gastronomic ally curious restaurants have failed, and that’s in matching ambition and passion with technical skill and ability. Each course being delivered by the chef himself is a great touch and its great to see someone so totally impassioned in the explanations and descriptions of his food, and equally happy to answer question and talk around each course. Just brilliant and genuinely personal. I cannot recommend this place highly enough – this place has knocked anything else in the area into the gastronomic ether – I suggest you get down there now before you can’t get in. Simply brilliant. Apparently and ambitiously the menu will change every month , I’m already booking my diary up and so should you.
The Fix Restaurant, 177-179 Morning Lane, London, E8 6LH
Heart London 5 Star Review:
Emma, Heart London Magazine