All photos are NHYM apart from this one, generously borrowed from the restaurant’s website. NHYM 2016.
London W1J 6BR
0203 764 2000
Design: 4.5 stars
Food: 3 stars
Service: 3.5 stars
Atmosphere: 4 stars
Overall: 3.75 stars
‘I have never seen a restaurant whose ethos is so clearly and comprehensively, so preeningly and unapologetically: ‘Fuck you, I’m rich and I want a golden cave and servants. I want a pony and all the hookers I can strangle. I want a pyramid of cocaine and an Audi -Quattro.’ It is like being punched in the face by Abu Dhabi.’
– quoted from the Spectator Review 28/11/15 http://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/11/sexy-fish-not-so-much-a-restaurant-as-a-museum-of-londons-rich/
After reading a review like that, well, you’ve just got to see it with your own eyes. Sexy Fish opened last year as one of the hottest new restaurants in town, trying to steal the celebrity limelight away from Chiltern Firehouse, and has seen everything from Popstars (Cheryl ex-Cole, ex-Versini), Models (Kate Moss at the opening), Rock Royalty (the Jaggers were there 2 days ago for Georgia May’s 24th), to a private party full of politicians including dear old David (Cameron). Rita Ora sang at its opening party and VIP keys were handed out in advance. All ingredients to make it the latest trendsetter in the restaurant world.
Bronze cast Damien Hirst statue on the bar. NHYM 2016.
It is the latest venture by Richard Caring (RC for this post) and his ever expanding restaurant-empire-cum-restaurant-chain. He is trying to take over the Mayfair restaurant scene and he is certainly making a statement. Firstly, we’ve got to address that oxymoronic name: Sexy Fish. A fish will never be sexy, but RC manages to make his restaurant pretty sexy-slutty: sexy bronze mermaids by Damien Hirst at the bar, climbing crocodiles by Frank Gehry, a parterre of onyx from Iran, and an actual waterfall behind his bar. Ok, completely over-the-top ostentatious, but you’ve got to love it. Downstairs in the private room are two glowing aquariums with multitudes of glow-in-the-dark fish ready for an after-party.
Main dining room NHYM 2016.
The dining room is art-deco, brasserie style with a large crocodile on the back wall designed by Frank Gehry, whom you will recall did the fish sculpture next to The Hotel Arts in Barcelona. It is quite a large room where you can scan your neighbours easily, with Matisse-inspired patterns on the ceilings in burgundy and gold.
The very friendly bartender. NHYM 2016.
But the bar is by far my favourite part of the restaurant. It is large, sexy and is framed by overhanging white delicately sculpted fish above and blue mermaids on either side and yes, there is a waterfall in the back. When we arrive at the touristy hour (i.e. anytime before 8pm), there isn’t much atmosphere and it is largely catering tourists. But by the time we leave, the bar is buzzing, the vibe is cool, and the DJ has started spinning. This is really the time to show up.
The Menu. NHYM 2016.
The Menu & the Food
The menu reads like many of the Asian-fusion/Japanese restaurants that first emerged in the 90’s starting with Nobu and still keep coming (Kurobuta). There is nothing creatively new on this menu, it follows a tried-and-tested formula of Nobu-Zuma-Roka-Novikov dishes. We order a bunch of sharing plates including the yellowtail sashimi, the Sexy Fish roll, tuna tartare, maple glazed pork belly skewers, duck salad and the famous Miso Glazed Chilean Seabass.
Miso Seabass and Maple-Glazed pork belly. NHYM 2016.
The food is unfortunately a let-down. It all looks beautiful, sounds beautiful and should be beautiful, but sadly, there is something missing. It isn’t bad, but falls flat compared to the other restaurants I have aforementioned. Usually, when you go to Nobu/Zuma/Roka, you are enlivened by the tastes and combination of flavours, but not even the famed Miso Seabass could do that for me. The only standout dish for me was the maple glazed pork belly skewer which melted in your mouth and was perfectly sweet and salty. The rest was ‘good’ but unfortunately quite forgettable.
The service gets some low marks just because we were ‘evicted’ before we could order the molten chocolate cake which we wanted to try. Next time.
Sexy Fish Kitchen. NHYM 2016.
We managed to spend 4 hours at Sexy Fish, which meant that something worked. Sexy Fish combines the right ‘menu,’ the right location, the right brasserie-style design and the right amount of slebs to make it a success. The food isn’t what you’re after here, the main attraction is the bar and of course the people-watching. It’s a fun, lively spot that starts to get going around 10pm, and if I were to go again, I’d probably skip the food and head straight to the bar for a martini while I ogle all the hedge-funders and their mistresses for entertainment purposes. After all, it’s cheaper than flying all the way to Dubai.