If you told your friends you were off to eat above a shop, they might not be that impressed. The shop, though, is fashionistas favourite Wolf & Badger, best known for showcasing up-and-coming designers. And, importantly, the restaurant has its own entrance, off the upper concourse of Coal Drops Yard (though you can take a lift from inside the store if you prefer). So you’d never even know – or care – about all those chi chi togs downstairs. Hicce is a buzzy, good-time place in its own right.
The cooking is from Pip Lacey, she of ‘Great British Menu’-winning fame (class of 2017), who trained at Murano. It’s the kind of food you might serve at a party: pick-and-mix nibbles ahead of skewers, then small plates (obvs). To kick off, you’re meant to choose a bread (we liked the delicately yeasty beer bread), then a little cheese or cured meat, some pickled veg and perhaps a pincho-esque bite or two, like vibrant honey-drizzled, goat’s-cheese-stuffed piquillo peppers. Delicious, if a little predictable. From the ‘hot sticks’ section, the lamb adana (a long mince kebab) was the best, even if its salsa verde was too tame. Just steer clear of the rolled cabbage (on a stick). Unpleasantly bitter, it screamed ‘token vegan option’. At least it was only £6.
But Hicce had a trio of grand finales up its sleeves. There was chorizo and cauliflower, the meat served in stubby chunks, its spice warmth offset by the pale, faintly sweet puree of veg, plus hits of fermented chilli and the rich crunch of pine nuts. More subtle, though no less brilliant, was a tiny funeral pyre of squid and green apple, the tender curls of seafood lifted by the sweet crispness of the fruit and the quiet, citrusy notes of baby shiso leaves. Last up, crème caramel. A round podium of set custard, wobbling over a dark, sticky puddle of muscovado-laced black syrup. It’s terrifyingly rich. Do not attempt to eat one solo.
And all this in a large, vibey space complete with affable service and a handsome industrial-chic setting that is buffed-up King’s Cross at its best: glorious arched windows, exposed brick and vaulted ceilings. If eating above a store was always this good, I might just be tempted to go shopping.