Hush is one of those hidden just out of sight restaurants that you hear about but never quite end up going to try on a whim because…well you just don’t see it. I assume it’s called Hush to imply it’s a secret dining escape in the middle of the city or perhaps they just want you to shut up and stop whining about the tourists.
First off, the entrance is a little deceptive as the most obvious route from Oxford Circus actually takes you to the back entrance. Now this entrance has an awning over the door which says “Hush” so you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking perhaps they are going the speakeasy route with a very minimalist entrance. Nope, the actual entrance (and fairly large outdoor seating area) is just around the corner. Ladies beware – the path is cobblestoned which would make heels a tricky proposition unless you have a handy gent’s arm for support (unless said gent is also wearing heels in which case you’re outta luck).
The interior is elegant with small but comfortable dining area on the ground floor and a pretty slick bar on the upper floor. However, despite having a number of friendly staff around, service seemed a bit slow. Perhaps it’s because we were chatting away and had to ask for a couple of minutes more the first time, but surely that’s no reason to forget about us?
We had been discussing various approaches to slow cooked meats, and with this on my mind I had to opt for the pulled pork starter. Now, if you’ve been following my reviews, you probably know I’m partial to a burger and considered trying the Hush burger until I found out it was merely a patty on a bun with a bit of lettuce as a garnish. For £13, I expect a little more style in a dish particularly for a place trying to be as glam as Hush. Instead I opted for the fish cake – a choice I later came to regret.
The pulled pork was tender and juicy but the marinade and sauce leant more towards sickly sweet rather than the full bodied tangy flavours I’ve come to associate with such a dish. The sautéed apple in a calvados reduction didn’t help matters at all nor did the brioche shell it was served in. Overall, it felt as if they had tried to make a pulled pork dessert – an odd choice in general and even more so when considering this was designed as a starter.
My main was singularly disappointing and lacked in flavour, creativity, and all round taste. The salmon fishcake was under seasoned and overcooked and the tomato relish, while tasty, was provided in insufficient quantity to add sufficient flavour to each bite. However, the side of parmesan truffle fries were excellent and I confess I was greedy and ate more than my fair share of that. I’d happily go back for that time and time again as a snack with a drink. My dining companions confirmed that their food also was perfectly fine just lacking that wow factor you’d hope for given the level of style (and price) that Hush aims for.
Finally, dessert! We shared a selection of the sticky toffee pudding, black berry sorbet, and Mars Bar cheesecake with praline ice cream. The star of the show was definitely the sticky toffee pudding with was rich, sweet, and fluffy – exactly what you want in such a pudding. The blackberry sorbet was tart and refreshing and couldn’t be faulted. The Mars Bar cheese intrigued me as I wasn’t expecting to find a dessert based on a candy bar in such a place. To be honest, it was just a cheesecake with a bit of chocolate and wafer but little resemblance to my memory of a Mars Bar (granted it’s been a while since I’ve had one – do they even sell them in the UK?). Overall, probably the best course of the night.
All in all, I’d say Hush is a nice place for a drink (and some parmesan truffle fries) but given the stiff competition from other restaurants in the area (Sketch, Little & Pollen Social, etc) I think it needs to up its game if it wants to compete on the restaurant front. But given that it was quite full even on a Wednesday, perhaps there is enough of a market even for them!