Devotees of cheesy 1970s US detective drama ‘The Rockford Files’ will be familiar with the bar ’n’ grill, as almost every episode featured one. These fans must be loving London right now: a new bar and grill seems to open every week, and just like episodes of ‘The Rockford Files’, they all seem the same: exposed brick walls, red leather seats, a pressed tin ceiling and a quirky flash of neon.
This repeatability is in the very marrow of Hixter, a new bar and grill rollout from Mark Hix. It’s the first in a chain: the prototype was Tramshed in Shoreditch, which is far more hipster than Hixter. Without Tramshed’s high-ceilinged room, Damien Hirst artwork and bearded artisans, Hixter feels like another joint aimed squarely at the Square Mile (it’s only open Monday to Friday). Even the menu seems to hark back to an earlier restaurant era: there’s the marbled steak, with surf ’n’ turf option; the chicken with stuffing; even chicken curry with rice. All these simple pleasures come at City prices, mind you. A small portion of onion rings costs £3.95 (ingredient cost: pence); a small salad with blue cheese £5.45; a club sandwich a jaw-dropping (or maybe a jaw-wiring-shut) £25, even if it does contain lobster and steak. A burger costs £16.95 – without chips. But if you can stomach these prices, you can definitely stomach the food, which is good. The proper, well-sourced ingredients are expertly prepared and served. Chips were crisp; a moist ribeye steak arrived perfectly rare as requested.
There’s wit to the menu too. One of the desserts is (honestly) a chocolate fondue (£14.50 for two to share), served with doughnuts and marshmallows. It’s all fun stuff, but a question also keeps repeating itself: is Hixter a laugh-along Rockford retro treat, or this time is the joke on us?