Menuwatch: Hicce, London

02 June 2021 by

Small plates, boards and jars containing British tapas combine to create a smorgasbord of flavourful, seasonal dishes under the experienced hand of Pip Lacey. Lisa Jenkins pays a visit.

The rain may be lashing down, but Hicce is full, with a mix of ladies who lunch, businessmen talking shop and groups of friends all congregating in the welcoming first-floor restaurant, located within the Coal Drops Yard development in King's Cross.

The restaurant, which opened in 2018, can accommodate 300 diners, including an outside terrace for 90, a private dining room for 24 and an atrium with the capacity for 100 guests.

Hicce
Hicce

The Hicce market (called mkt) downstairs sells the restaurant's house-made pickles, charcuterie, breads and butters and the same wines the guests can order upstairs. Hicce co-owners and founders Pip Lacey and Gordy McIntyre have also struck a deal to sell other chefs' produce in mkt, where 75% of the selling price is given back to the chef.

Lacey has an enviable pedigree, having trained at York & Albany and Murano with Angela Hartnett, who is also an investor and director of the business. Meanwhile McIntyre has the Metropolitan Pub Company and Urban Pubs and Bars on his CV.

Lacey and McIntyre have promoted Shannon Johnson (who recently made her debut on this year's Great British Menu TV series, representing the Central region with her Lincolnshire roots) to head chef, who works alongside sous chef Daniel Vass and general manager Mike Vince.

Pip Lacey
Pip Lacey

There is an evident focus on seasonal ingredients, with Lacey's influence seen in dishes such as British asparagus, egg yolk and Parmesan (£7.50/£15); sea bream ceviche, chicory, chilli and grapefruit (£9/£18); and cardamom custard tart with chargrilled apricots for dessert (£7).

The grill plays a major role in many dishes and takes centre stage in the open kitchen. The menu also features ‘boards', where customers can choose two or three items from six categories for a sharing board: bread, jars, veg, cheese, seafood and charcuterie, which includes options such as jars of cabbage, onion and caraway (£4) and smoked trout pâté (£8). From there on diners select more small plates or a larger plate for a main course.

Beef bavette, peas, soused tomatoes, anchovy
Beef bavette, peas, soused tomatoes, anchovy

The restaurant offers a Sunday brunch with dishes such as ‘our avo' toasted sourdough and chilli jam (£8), pancakes with toppings of maple syrup, rum, banana, bacon, chocolate or cream (£13), and baked eggs with cabbage, potato and Hicce sauce (£11). During lockdown, the restaurant's home- delivery hampers have also raised the profile of its suppliers and ingredients and prompted online and walk-by sales.

When it comes to the suppliers, Lacey says: "We use people we have got on with and have built a good personal and working relationship with – and because we like their products, of course. We use small-batch, natural wine producers which helps us change frequently and use the little guy."

Octopus, squid ink risotto, broad beans
Octopus, squid ink risotto, broad beans

Wine suppliers include Les Caves de Pyrène and El Bandarra, with cheese sourced from La Fromagerie and vegetables from Crop to Kitchen, with which Lacey has worked for many years, as well as Tempus Charcuterie, "one of the best charcuterie suppliers I've come across," adds Lacey.

Ingredients play a crucial role at the bar too, with cocktails devised by McIntyre and bar manager Juan Luengo serving as alternative desserts. The Castella (which tastes just like Battenberg cake) is a combination of Pampero Blanco rum, Disaronno, almond milk, honey and egg (£11), and the Black Forest (£13) is made up of Rémy Martin cognac, Belsazar Rosé vermouth, Briottet Crème de Cacao Blanc and chocolate bitters, finished with a drunken black cherry.

Tempura paneer, cauliflower, raisin, yogurt
Tempura paneer, cauliflower, raisin, yogurt

Lacey sees the area as a "food mecca" for smaller independents and praises landlords Wolf & Badger and estate managers Argent. And, you heard it here first, Lacey and McIntyre are considering a second site along with other new projects.

Hicce quite literally means ‘of the moment', and Lacey and McIntyre certainly are – but they are here to stay, too.

102 Stable Street, Coal Drops Yard, London N1C 4DQ

www.hicce.co.uk

From the menu

  • Beetroot, bulgar wheat, cashew, spring greens £6.5/£13
  • Chicken thigh, grelot onions, wild garlic, hazelnuts £9/£18
  • Cod, mussels, Hispi, black garlic £10/£20
  • Octopus, squid ink risotto, broad beans £11/£22
  • Beef bavette, peas, soused tomatoes, anchovy £10/£20

Sides

  • Miso butter potatoes £6
  • Baby gem salad, kimchi £5
  • Rainbow chard, lemon and thyme crumb £6

Desserts

  • Chocolate crémeux, pine nut, vanilla ice-cream £8
  • Pineapple upside-down, coconut sorbet £7

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