Just last September, the former power station for Shoreditch’s tram system (dating back to 1905) was hosting its second year of London Design Festival activities. The distinguished old space had serious presence, it made for a spectacular addition to the design festival’s many venues – but, in truth, was crying out for a permanent lodger. Fast forward just over six months, and one of the capital’s most famous chef/restaurateurs has muscled his way into the resplendent Shoreditch space. Yep, Shoreditch is the new West End, blah blah… so far, so standard.
However, you’ll have by now noticed something that’s not typically routine for a swanky new dining hotspot. Yes, there’s a ruddy great Damien Hirst sculpture suspended four metres above the restaurant’s gawping diners. ‘Cock and Bull’ (2012) – a Hereford cow and cockerel preserved in a steel and glass tank of formaldehyde – stands ominously over the dining room that serves, wait for it, a stripped back menu of just chicken, and steak. Part of the divisive artist’s infamous Natural History series, it’s a major new commission (you wouldn’t want to think how much something like this would cost, Hix must surely be a pal?), and pretty much gives Hix’s new gaff instant access to an exclusive club of some of the world’s most inspired dining rooms – there’s a second work too, ‘Beef and Chicken’ (2012), a painting of 1990s cartoon characters Cow and Chicken.
It’s all mightily impressive, even Hirst’s haters (and there’s plenty of them lining up to take a shot) would have to agree, and there’s a basement art gallery on the way too. Impressive. Undeniably unique. The only drawback, I guess, is that we’ve hardly even mentioned the food… here’s hoping all of Hix’s experience will ensure diners don’t do the same.