A hiding place or a hyding place? either way Hiding near Hyde Park, who would have guessed? That the now local Yevgeny Alexandrovich Chichvarkin has opened in conjunction with his, the World’s greatest Vinoteca, a restaurant, just around the corner in Mayfair. But try and find it and then open the front door… or is it just me?
With a few hours to spare between flight connections, why not venture into central London, I say to myself, and check out the latest eatery that boasts not only a wine list of 6.000 bottles +, and all available immediately, or within 15 minutes walk of their Hedonistic wine cellar down the road. And a head chef that goes by the name of Ollie? Dubious or is it Dabbous, please forgive me Oliver. With thirty million dollars of Russian golden Rubles pumped into the place and a staff of up to 20 world class sommeliers housed in what I think is an old Mercedes car show room, to be honest I cannot remember, but they do however sport an excellent luncheon menu of £42 without wine, I took my own luncheon white (£30 corkage w.t.f) of course, so what can go wrong?
Firstly, I have to say that finding the place was not a problem, my GPS scanned up 85 Piccadilly with no problem at all. I found the large, infact huge, wooden front door, door handle-less, and nameless, and pushed at it, but it did not open. To the left was a smaller wooden door, slightly ajar, which i went through to find myself looking into the back of the kitchen, well a bit of it anyway, so I back tracked. Walked further down the street to find another, very open door, which I entered, to be greeted by vegetable boxes and other delivery necessities. Ummm I can see tables through there, so I continued. Arriving in Hide through the back door, as it where. No one seemed to be particularly bothered, but then again neither was I and as I am about to become the next new customer, and with a booking, I feel most welcome. As you may know, I am very used to arriving through ‘Tradesman’s Entrance’. Anyway, I find the front desk, in reverse of course and they ask me for my name. The place is full of luncheoners and once we establish whom I am, I am ‘in’ and they take me up these huge wooden Cinderella stairs to what they call ‘Hide Above’ on the first floor.
The whole place is much smaller than I thought it would be from the outside. I am shown to a pokey little wooden table for two in the middle of the room and suggest if there is another table available preferably with a view of the park, I would prefer it. There is one, thank god, and so the ‘experience’ begins. I know that I am not in for a proper lunch, this a foodie expo-demo of a hi-order. A waitress appears with an electronic ‘iPad’ type wine list and two menus (on card), bound in a white book. One is a tasting menu and the other is the menu of the day. With the time allowed, the ‘smocked’ waitress recommends the ‘a la carte’ 3 course job. I plant for it and produce the bottle of wine that I have bought with me as I don’t really want to spend hours going through the wine list, of which I am almost familiar with as it lists the stock of that super wine shop which is connected via a long tunnel to the place. A young French sommelier takes my bottle and chills it perfectly and I begin the begin. Riedel glasses abound.
And the warm bread basket arrives. All super. The nibbles are placed on the table and I get stuck in. Albeit slowly, so that I can appreciate what is going on. A chilled fresh elderflower soup to be drunk from the bowl, no spoon, excellent start. A friend then joined me at the table, pre-planned as he did not want to eat and also it is really not his sort of thing, and he enjoyed the little helping of the dried ham and air dried goose on the feather and bone, that they kindly put on the table to make him feel welcome. Everything was English produce and I must say the quality was extraordinarily good. Small helpings of lots of things, fresh and flavorsome, my kind of style, before a long flight. Pickled vegetables (mini) and raw vegetables (mini) with a mushroom broth. The next dish arrived, asparagus (three tips only) and more froth. The ‘smocked’ one grated some Parmesan on top, which I found far too salty (it must have been over mature or not well kept, who knows) but it basically destroyed the other sensitive flavors that were there on the plate in the first place. When the King crab ravioli came it looked stunning. Little fresh English garden peas hidden under the sauce, with little blue flowers decorating the dish, delightful. Once again, after a bit, the pea flavor started to dominate the subtlety of the dish. What a shame. Fewer peas would have been ideal. Pudding then came. Strawberries and strawberries. Well five of them, all chopped in half (one half of one strawberry). Each one a different variety of Strawb. A wild one, a Red Glory, an English Rose, Eve’s Delight and a Jubilee. Exquisite for a non pudding man.
The sauce tasted like something a child might enjoy at a fairground. Not really my sort of thing, but still well done for the effort. Coffee (the dreaded Nespresso) came with petit-fours, which were indeed totally amazing and then the bill. £30quid corkage plus £42quid for the lunch and the coffee was extra. In total lunch came to £95quid plus tip. I am not sure how but it made total sense when I did the mathematics on the little till-slip. I liked the whole ‘experience’ but to be honest I will not go back unless you invite me for the tasting menu, and preferably in the evening. It’s one of those evening places, not for a lunch, in my opinion.
Some other thoughts that I can still remember just, was that seeing the top floor of a lot of red London buses going by is a bit strange and the general buzz of Piccadilly, though no noise, is not particularly relaxing, it’s more surreal, but then so is the food and the place to boot. On the whole the staff were super correct and just right except one French ‘Saxon bloused’ waitress was really quite, over the top, grumpy, but then again she may have been a leftover from the Battle of Hastings, poor soul. She was dressed like it, just no bow and arrow. My, by now, empty bag that helped carry the wine bottle to the table was offered a mini foldout chair, I guess if you have a special Chanel hand bag it is so that it does not sit on the floor gathering dust. An interesting touch, but to be honest totally unnecessary.
Things to watch out for dear reader and not to put you off trying the place, as I think one should always try something once, if you can. The mayo dip at the beginning was a bit over cloying and the beautifully presented blob of butter that looked like a fresh scoop of vanilla ice-cream, was indeed a touch rancid for my tolerant palate. Okay maybe it was a hot day in London (no aircon in the place which I do approve of by the way) but really? rancid butter at this level. The feather and bone cutlery were of course highly original as was the wooden branch-stick from a tree, with a burnt liquorice marshmallow on the end that went with the strawberries, accompanied by a marvelous blob of marshmallow ice cream. Super stuff!
Also, very good to see Elliott there, from my old stomping ground at 67 Pall Mall, who is there now in charge of the wines on the ground floor. Hide Below? or Hide Ground I really cannot remember. If he is there you are in good hands I can tell you that much.
There was a moment during the lunch when I could not help myself but to delve into the electronic wine list and pretend to place a wine order. Virtual dining style. There is a space on the screen where you can leave your selection in a basket (virtual), so I did so. 1986 Montrachet DRC, Henri Jayer Echezeaux 1985, Soldera’s BdM Riserva 1990 and a half of d’Yquem 1990, all came to £50.000. I also could not help but see a magnum of 1988 Romanee-Conti DRC on the list for a quite reasonable £51.460.00. I started dreaming of ordering the dam thing, and calling a chum to intersect the Hide-Hedonism wine van delivery service (all insured of course) and pinch the bugger. (I hope I am not giving you ideas here) A kind of ‘corkscrew stick-up’, but then again I like these people and I do not want to spend 5 minutes with Rudi doing ‘porridge’ in the Scrubs.
Changing the subject, here was a cute small draw in the side of my wooden dining table that housed not only an iPhone re-charger, there was a pen (more wood) and paper, also more tools for the table, extra menu and wine-laptop. Very cool indeed. Very personal, very relaxed, once my neighboring table of four millennia’s had gone home or back to the office (why do they have to speak so crudely and loudly is beyond me) and all round well done Hide! I am sure it will be in next year’s top 50 Best restaurant guide, so give it a go before it does so, otherwise you will not be able to get a table. Tel: 020 3146 8666
I forgot to mention my all important dreamy luncheon white from the hills of Sagrantino (Umbria), which has been rediscovered (the grape that is) and finally realised in this superb bottle of 2014 Trebbiano Spoletino from Tabarrini in Montefalco. A traditional vine producing here a wine of great, great elegance and charm. generous and resolute. A wine full of charm and really quite unique. I was blown away, as was my guest who ordered a case on the spot.
And as I now sign off dear faithful reader. When you find that large wooden front door at number 85 Picaddilly. Just give it a good old nudge, a big heavy push, with some strength, as it does open quite easily, i discovered later on.