‘I like ridicu­lous things. I am one’

The Guardian - Feast - - Front Page - Grace Dent

When ev­ery­one asks what Hide, the new, multi-floor din­ing ex­trav­a­ganza on Pic­cadilly, is like, I say the jour­ney to the loo is like swirling around in­side an enor­mous acorn. A vast, oak stair­case trans­ports you from “Above”, the restau­rant up­stairs, to the bath­room, which smells like dis­tilled au­tumn and plays piped Cap­tain Beef­heart. And when oth­ers ask me what Hide is like, I say it’s ba­si­cally a whop­ping, glass-fronted lux­ury car show­room with Ol­lie Dab­bous at the stoves.

If you book for the tast­ing menu at Above (there’s a slightly-lesshigh-end room down­stairs called “Ground”), you end up eat­ing at eye level with the top-deck pas­sen­gers on the buses head­ing to Pic­cadilly Cir­cus, which makes you feel a bit like a Rolls-Royce Phan­tom VIII in the win­dow of HR Owen. At this point, some read­ers may be quite irate that I’m claim­ing “ev­ery­one” is ob­sessed with all-new Hide when they’ve never even heard of it. I sym­pa­thise – it’s like this, I know, in the prov­inces – but I as­sure you, in fancy Lon­don, it’s the most ru­mi­nated-over open­ing of 2018.

Hide is what oc­curs when umpteen bil­lion Rus­sian mo­bile­phone shop rou­bles col­lide with a tal­ented, al­beit baldly whim­si­cal wun­derkind chef: 400 cov­ers, all-day din­ing, 200 staff; a place where the som­me­lier hands you an iPad that boasts 4,000 wines, the most ex­pen­sive be­ing the 2004 Pen­folds Block 42 at £120,000. Pre-snacks ar­rive skew­ered on feath­ers and china bones. Hide re­port­edly has its own car lift, so both Trump and Kanye, say, could turn up incog­nito to eat raw bluefin tuna with prickly ash and Ex­moor caviar in one of the five pri­vate din­ing rooms. The paid, mean­while, can stuff their daft faces with sliv­ers of king crab with baked turnip. Or burnt liquorice root marsh­mal­low served on bro­ken plates. Hide is def­i­nitely ridicu­lous, but I like ridicu­lous things. I am one my­self.

“Bring me some­thing that costs around £50 a bot­tle and is drink­able,” I said, pass­ing the som­me­lier back his iPad. His face strug­gled to sup­press a whim­per. En route, I’d

sworn this would not be an­other gasp­ingly pricey ex­penses claim, where, with three or four in­cre­men­tal half-tipsy nods, I add a fur­ther £300 to the bill. And it’s so very eas­ily done: op­tional ex­tra cour­ses, truf­fle grat­ings, pud­ding sup­ple­ments, etc. Wine flights are es­pe­cially vi­cious. Still, even by bat­ting away cheese fees and cof­fees like a fine-din­ing ninja, and or­der­ing a hum­ble bot­tle of Por­tuguese Parcela Unica, we still whipped through £420 on two £95 tast­ing menus. The veg­e­tar­ian op­tion swaps tur­bot and Herd­wick lamb for pul­verised beet­root, cele­riac origami, rose petals and an abun­dance of as­para­gus wear­ing dif­fer­ent hats and glasses.

I’m still not en­tirely cer­tain if Hide was a good time, but I feel re­lieved that I’ve wit­nessed it. In re­al­ity, it’s far less Las Ve­gas and far more “just a big restau­rant” than the scream­ing hype sug­gested. No pres­i­dents or rap gods were eat­ing up­stairs, and the down­stairs crowd was wildly nor­mal. Well, you can’t serve that many cov­ers and keep out drab-faced of­fice crowds.

The Corpse Re­viver No 2 – gin, Lil­let blanc, fresh lemon juice, Coin­treau and ab­sinthe – I drank in “Be­low”, the base­ment bar, is cer­tainly the great­est I’ve tasted in Lon­don. The re­ligieuse pud­ding, the fi­nale of 10 cour­ses, was heart­flut­ter­ingly splen­did: a del­i­cate, teal-blue tower of jas­mine and wild pea flower-in­fused sponge, cream and gold leaf served with a tiny glass beaker of the most fab­u­lously po­tent cold-brew jas­mine tea. The pre-dessert of “gar­den rip­ple” ice-cream, a Fun­gus the Bo­gey­man blob of emer­ald meadow fresh­ness served on a block of ice, was de­light­ful, too. The other nine or so cour­ses, both meat- and veg-fac­ing, were a harm­less wood­land ram­ble. Tur­bot ap­pears in a light, crushed nas­tur­tium broth. A del­i­cate of­fer­ing of cele­riac en­velopes diced av­o­cado strewn with an­gel­ica seeds.

We eat and eat, as is of­ten the way in such places, with­out re­ally eat­ing at all. A bowl of charred kale laced with punchy, birch sap-en­hanced goose is cer­tainly un­for­get­table. On our wood­land odyssey, this is some­thing the Blair Witch might leave out­side your tent. Pos­si­bly my favourite course, white as­para­gus in a filthily good slick of salty hazel­nut pra­line, left me quite hair-toss­ingly ec­static. But if you’d been on the num­ber 19 bus head­ing to Pic­cadilly, you prob­a­bly know this al­ready. For a restau­rant with five pri­vate din­ing rooms, there are very few places to hide.

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