Hide had been mentioned by our buddies in the UK who had been to both Ground (more casual a la carte) and Above (tasting menu only) at the much-talked about Mayfair restaurant. (There are three levels to Hide – the discrete cocktail bar located in the basement is aptly named Below.) The design, in particular the staircase, was the killer talking point but one area that made our ears prick up was the cost. The comments about the price tag came from corporate Amex users who are used to the luxury of entertaining and they still winced when mentioning a meal at Above.
As Dubai residents, we’re not unfamiliar with extortionate levels of overpricing but there’s a fine balance between paying for an experience that leaves you feeling like it was absolutely worth it, and having an experience that doesn’t quite equate to the bottom dollar. In fact, Dubai is having a bit of a reality check these days. Even the clientele with gold-wrapped Rolls Royces and massive mansions are showing more interest in knowing they are getting a good bang for their buck.
When I found out that Russian entrepreneur and billionaire Yevgeny Chichvarkin, owner of wildly successful Hedonism Wines, and Michelin-starred chef Ollie Dabbous had teamed up in this venture, my interest was piqued. After all, whilst no one will give exact numbers, the figure of £20 million has been thrown around when it comes to the supposed cost of the 3-story building’s makeover.
Learning all of this, two things came to mind. One, how lucky is Ollie! When most restaurants are being squeezed to make profits and run the risk of inviting the wrong crowd just to bring in money, Ollie is in a position that allows him to really focus on the food that goes out of his kitchen. The second was, were we paying for the location (with its indoor car lift, grand staircase, and generous three floors of space) or for the actual food experience?
The only thing to do was to park our preconceptions for an evening and experience Hide for ourselves.
One thing you certainly won’t miss is the gigantic wooden door. It feels very possible that around half a woodland was used to create this! Walking in, reception was quick and at the ready. There was no faffing around trying to find our names – the staff were refreshingly attentive, knowledgeable, and direct.
This level of service followed straight through dinner. The servers were knowledgeable about both the food and wine menus and described the dishes well (not just parroting back what they were briefed on during a staff meeting but enthusiastically sharing the food experience). It shows that great training has been taken on board and the quality of hiring is high. Their uniforms were unexpected, with the female staff sporting mutton sleeves – an interesting aesthetic choice for the restaurant, produced in collaboration with Maria Grachvogel.
The crowd that comes through Hide’s doors is diverse, with a clear definition between the three layers of the restaurant. Open all day, there are the breakfast fiends who indulge in pastries baked on premises, the ones who come in for working lunches, the special dining experience seekers, and the after-work folks looking to wind down with a cocktail.
The building seems like more windows than walls and from inside, you have a direct view of Piccadilly. The windows, though, are so thick you mercifully won’t be able to hear the rustle and roar of the outside.
The almighty staircase everyone talks about is the pièce de resistance in design here and you’ll see it the minute you walk through the front doors. It sweeps and spirals from bottom to top and will take your head for a spin. It was designed by Atmos Studio and is made from laminated oak. Just a pointer for those ladies with heels and a glass in hand, head downstairs to use the ladies room before you start enjoying the night. That whirling staircase becomes a beast to venture up and down once you’re on the top floor!
The informal Ground is street level, meaning you’re face to face with the hustle and bustle – commuters, tourists, red buses – which might make it a love it or leave it choice for some. Below, the cocktail bar hidden away in the basement, is cosy and sophisticated, and is probably my favourite space out of the three.
At Above, where I dined, you have a great top-down view with different energies during the day and evening. But for all of the grandness behind the multi-figure makeover and the big names attached to the restaurant, the design is surprisingly pared down. It is very organic and nature-oriented with earthy materials (wood is prominent) and details like the moss installation in the ladies room and the floral mural upstairs.
The dining floor of Above is very open, with bare wooden tables and simple low-back wooden chairs, those floor-to-ceiling windows, and delicate paper pendant lights reminiscent of broken eggshells. What you won’t find are starched table linens, high-back upholstered seats, or the thick plushness one usually thinks of when dining at high-end tasting menu restaurants.
Was it what I was expecting, given the type of restaurant it was? In short, no. But for those open to experiencing something new or who prefer contemporary design over pressed tablecloths and classic lighting, you will appreciate dining at Above.
Before dinner, we were whisked downstairs to Below for, according to sources, the best cocktails around. Chief mixologist Oskar Kinberg, a.k.a. the bar manager, did us proud. (Check out the mini Q&A we did with Oskar below!)
The cocktails at Below were spot on and the wine list was magnificent, but that should come as no surprise given the connection to Hedonism Wines. Cost-wise, the cocktails are in the perfectly respectable range of £13-£16 but a word of advice should you not be a big wine person – be sure to scan the price range alongside the varietals so you can find something that suits both your palate and wallet. Wine connoisseurs, however, will appreciate the range of offerings and will be tempted to have a bit of fun.
Below is dark and moody, small but not claustrophobic. It’s just the right size to hit the sweet spot of buzz and vibe. Add in some killer mixologists and you are guaranteed to have a cracking kick off to a night of pure degustation.
Oh, and by the way, we learnt that Oskar prefers the term bartender or barman over mixologist, as do most others in the same position!
Above’s tasting menu is £95 and you have the option of adding on one of three wine pairings – Classic (+£70), Discovery (+£115), and Hedonistic (a hefty +£295). You’ll have to do your own cost value analysis here and decide if the price + experience is something that is worth it to you.
With that being said, every plate that came out was a work of art. At a place like Hide Above, every detail on the plate has been carefully considered and it shows. Though if I’m to be completely honest, the one dish I didn’t care for was the squab pigeon, mostly because it came with the claws attached. Eek! Not quite the visual I want with my food.
The menu offers a lovely journey of tastes and textures. There’s no rush to turn the table over so take your time and allow yourself to enjoy the experience masterminded by Chef Ollie. Expect dishes like bluefin tuna tartare with pickled mushroom shavings and sansho pepper; roast Cornish monkfish with buttered parsley root, buckwheat, and horseradish; Wagyu beef shavings with oscietra caviar and rye in a warm oxtail broth; and Hide’s baked Alaska.
Hide proudly shares info on their suppliers (you can view everyone here), procuring the highest quality ingredients like fresh seafood from Flying Fish Seafoods (known for delivering seafood within 48 hours of being landed) and rare breed meat produced by Huntsham Farm.
Ground is more accessible, with dinner starters hovering right around £20 and mains in the £26-£38 range. The à la carte menu has the same unique flavour combinations seen in Above, so you’ll still be able to get a taste of Chef Ollie’s work!
There’s a reason why Chef Ollie earned a Michelin star and whilst I’m sure many were sad to see him close his own restaurant, he’s clearly making some magic happen here at Hide! You can read more about him in his Q&A with us here.
If it’s within your means and you look at dining out as an adventurous experience, Hide Above is worth a visit just to experience it yourself.
Personally, I prefer the more classically grand touches of fine dining or truly memorable experiences like sitting at the chef’s table or something very theatrical. Hide’s streamlined design with the steep price point has me on the fence. The individual elements (the food, the earthy design, the extensive wine list, the impeccable service) are fabulous on their own but when placed all together, it just didn’t quite work for me in the way I thought it would.
What does soften the bill, though, is knowing that they support a number of organisations, including Scottish Ballet, Gift of Life, and The Felix Project. We admire whenever people and companies choose to pay it forward!
I would pop into Below again for a cocktail or two when in the area, especially if I had guests who love moody cocktail bars and “hidden” spaces.
Overall, though, I have to say well done to the entire team at Hide! The food, drinks, and service were top notch and those alone are worth the accolades.
85 Piccadilly, London, W1J 7NB
Disclaimer: The Caviar Spoon ReBelle was hosted by Hide but all opinions expressed are our own.