An Intimate Chef’s Table with Mark Hix and Dan Doherty

There are some event invitations that are so exciting to receive that it’s almost as if you’re in a dream world and an invite to a chef’s table dinner at the Kitchen Library, above Tramshed restaurant with Mark Hix, of Hix Restaurants, and Dan Doherty, of Duck and Waffle, was one of them.

We knew we were in for a fantastic evening, but even still we were blown away by the entire experience. Let’s start from the beginning…
Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

We started in the CNB Gallery, a hidden space beneath the main Tramshed restaurant, to admire the newly opened art exhibition of  Miranda Donovan, an artist who reflects the contrasts of life in her work. It was great to be able to meet Miranda herself and ask her questions about what inspires her work and what she was trying to reflect.
My favourite piece was a back-lit computer motherboard upon which she had painted three skeletons covering their ears, reflecting the fact that technology is always around us and that we can never switch it off – a problem for us all, but especially us bloggers!
Mark Hix, Dan Doherty
As we admired the art, I had a chance to catch up with my date for the evening, Colleen, and get to know the other guests and we sipped the delicious Dear Prune’dence cocktails that had been made specially for the evening. Comprising smoked Black Cow vodka, prune juice, fresh ginger, bacon and chocolate bitters, it was a delicious cocktail to start the evening, and even reflected some festive notes which was perfect for a cold October’s evening.
Colleen and I had a fantastic chat with Miranda, finding out all about her, her work and her close ties with Hix restaurants. And when the canapés came round – we all dived in!
The bacon wrapped date with Linguica, manchego and mustard was delicious: a perfectly sized canapé that paired perfectly with our cocktail.
The second canapé was a cuttlefish croquette with a watercress mayonnaise, and might even have managed to surpass the dates that we had just had. I’m not usually a mayonnaise fan, but this was delicious and may have just converted me.
Mark Hix, Dan Doherty
After admiring the art, we moved upstairs to the Kitchen Library, a very intimate kitchen where you can watch the chefs cook, and where you’re surrounded by an incredible number of books – Mark’s personal cookbook collection. Dan even told us that one of the shelves, covered in magazines, is actually just some of the publications that Mark Hix has been published in!
Mark Hix, Dan Doherty
As we got to know our neighbours for the evening and watched the chefs prepare the first course, we sipped on glasses of Nyetimber Blanc de Blanc 2007, an English sparkling wine, from beautiful champagne flutes.
Mark Hix, Dan Doherty
For anyone who’s already been to Duck and Waffle, you’ll know what’s inside these little bags! BBQ spiced crispy pigs ears, which might sound a little daunting, were left on the table for us to open and nibble throughout the evening. I loved their crunch and the texture and was amazed that so much flavour could be injected into tiny little morsels of food!
Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

For the first course, we had ‘East End eels’ with horseradish, samphire, malt vinegar and crème fresh, accompanied by a Bloody Caesar cocktail.
When Dan initially mentioned eel, there were a few reluctant faces, but I now understand why this is such an underrated dish. Originally served in the East End of London in polystyrene cups, we were treated to a much more luxurious presentation!

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

I loved the delicate flavours of this dish, and was very pleasantly surprised by the flavour of the eel.

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

A modern twist on a London classic, it’s definitely a dish that I would order again.

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

The most incredible thing about the evening was being able to ask Mark and Dan where the inspiration had come from for each dish, how they had started cooking and how they got into the restaurant business. It was a very personal touch, knowing that Dan had been inspired to create this dish from childhood memories and experiences.
And as there were only 12 of us, there was really time for each of us to get to know two of London’s top chefs a little better.

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

Our Bloody Caesar was a gin based cocktail (always a winner in my mind) served with a clam chowder and was a delicious and slightly spicy accompaniment to the eel dish.

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

It was amazing to see just how relaxed they both were, clearly very good friends and who loved sharing their food with people who very clearly appreciated it! Throughout the evening there was lots of time for telling stories of events that they had been to and funny things that have happened in their restaurants.

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

The next course was probably my favourite of the evening: a champagne risotto with shaved Wiltshire truffle, served with a Chablis 1er Cru, Montamains, Denis Race, 2013.
 
Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

Being an avid risotto fan I took full advantage of the opportunity to ask Mark for his top tips to make risotto! The flavours of this dish were subtle and yet vibrant, especially since truffle can be quite a strong ingredient. When asked if we wanted a little more, I rather enthusiastically said yes!

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty
I could have eaten this over, and over again – it was a superb dish, and one that will stay in my mind for a long time to come.
Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

For the meat course, we had a marmite glazed ox cheek served with Jerusalem artichokes, rock oyster and bitter leaves. Now this was a dish! Again, not being a marmite fan I was a litttttle hesitant about this one; however, I may now be a convert!
The meat was perfectly tender and fell apart on the dish, and the artichokes really complemented the flavours of the meat.

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

Mark and Dan even made plating up look simple; not something that I’ve ever found before! Each dish was perfectly presented and plated up right before our eyes.

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

It was accompanied by a Massaya silver selection, Bekka Valley, 2010 red wine, which was a beautiful dark red wine which I really loved.

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

For dessert we were served Sussex pond pudding with Jersey cream, accompanied by chilled Kingston Black, a delicious cider brandy.
I have to say it looked more than a little nerve wracking to serve!

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

Plates were handed out, and the puddings were placed around the table before we all dived in, family style, to what really was an incredible pudding. It’s a suet pastry which encases a whole lemon and is made with lots of butter and sugar. I couldn’t believe how flavoursome this was; what looks like a very simple pudding (though very difficult to make) was exquisite, and was the perfect end to our evening of culinary delights.

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

Served with cream and washed down the the apple brandy, Colleen and I couldn’t help but go back for seconds!
Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

The evening was an incredibly special experience, especially for someone who loves food and eating out as much as I do; Mark and Dan are really lovely men with amazing senses of humour. They made the evening truly special and very memorable for us all.

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

They’re also pretty partial to an espresso martini (as am I!) and so a round was ordered for us all. Now, these were special…!

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

Promise me, when you go to Tramshed, you won’t finish your evening without ordering one?

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

Your head might not thank you for it the next morning, but it’s oh-so worth it!
Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty

 

The Kitchen Library is a really fantastic space, it’s almost as if you’re in a beautiful, luxurious studio home cooking with someone in their own kitchen. You can find out more about private dining in the Kitchen Library here.

 

Mark Hix, Dan Doherty
After a few more photos were taken, and menus signed, and questions asked about both the future of Hix Restaurants and Duck and Waffle, the evening came to an end.
Will full stomachs, and sore stomachs from laughing so much, we headed home into the night.
Mark Hix, Dan Doherty
The chef’s table with two of London’s best chefs is definitely one of the best experiences I’ve ever had: the food, the company, the intimate feel and the laughter will all stay with me for a very long time. I can’t recommend one of the Hix special events enough as you will definitely have a truly incredible evening.

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Our evening was complimentary, but all opinions, photographs and recommendations are my own. 

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