Sexy Fish - Press Awards


Sexy Fish - Press Awards
‘I’m intimidated from the outset, perhaps because I’m wearing H&M and my own face’
Restaurant reviewer of 2015
hen I tell the pal we’re
going to Sexy Fish, she
says, “Funny, nobody
talks about getting crabs
any more.” By the time you read this,
everything to be said about this
outlandish newcomer’s bizarre title
will have been said, but dear God:
it’s the worst restaurant name since
Tottenham’s Golden Stool.
The latest in the apparently
unstoppable Richard Caring’s empire,
this is a restaurant designed to knock
your silk socks into next week. Water
gushes down windows, perhaps to
deter the inevitable paparazzi, but
I fear for the effect on older
customers’ bladders. There are acres
of lava stone and onyx, cavorting
fish and crocodiles by Frank Gehry,
bronze Damien Hirst mermaids and
a massive relief avec shark – of course
– by the same artist. Downstairs is
a Bond-villain lair lined with
extravagant, coral-reefed fishtanks
throwing out an eerie glow. None of
it looks like London. The nearest
comparison I can dredge up is
dodgy-new-money magnet Macau,
where my hotel looked like a giant
illuminated pineapple and an
emerald of untold value languished
in the lobby. Like the practice of
double-wristing watches that each
cost as much as a suburban semi,
Sexy Fish is designed to shriek:
“Look at me! Just! Look! At! Meeeee!”
Before being granted access, you
have to brave elegantly overcoated
doormen who glower: “Have you
booked?” and a “greeting” desk
manned by a catalogue of frosty
beauties. We’re intimidated even
before getting to our table, perhaps
because I’m wearing H&M and my
own face. At one point, a famous man
approaches my well-known pal,
saluting her like a long-lost lover.
After he leaves, I say: “I didn’t know
you knew him.” She shrugs: “I don’t.”
The food? It’s entirely forgettable.
No, seriously: I’ve forgotten most
of it, and I can usually tell you what
I ate 10 years ago. It’ll be familiar to
anyone who frequented Nobu or
Zuma in the early 2000s: all misoglazed Chilean sea bass, salmon and
avocado maki rolls and – well, duh –
wagyu beef. Apart from sushi rice,
gyoza and tempura batter, there are
hardly any carbs; rich people don’t
like carbs. There’s a weird, random
sighting of gorgonzola tortilla,
perhaps in case Silvio Berlusconi
keels up. There’s caviar. Of course
there’s caviar, to be ordered at
up to £350 for 50g of Beluga by
under-endowed chaps to dazzle
unnaturally endowed women. Good
fish comes, as is the way of these
joints, disguised by quantities of
chilli/ponzu/soy, denaturing it away
from its essential raw fishiness.
There’s soft-shell crab that tastes of
its batter, with a wasabi mayonnaise
of peculiarly Evo-Stik constituency.
“Japrese salad”, in which mozzarella
has been substituted by tofu (why?
Just why?). Prawn soldiers – hey, we
can cut sesame prawn toast into
a different shape. The best dish in
a cliched list are lamb chops
lollipopped into unnatural
perfection, the supremely tender
meat slicked with the polyglot
saltiness of miso and gochujang. It’s
hard to see what everything is in the,
presumably sexy, gloom. Even icecreams – who could resist soy caramel
or malted milk honeycomb? – are
lame, underpowered and riddled
with crystals, lacking the silken
loveliness of the freshly churned.
There’s an unspoken restaurant
critic tradition that, when a place is
universally raved about, some sour
harpy will come along and diss it out
of attention-seeking contrariness.
I promise you this is not the case
Sexy Fish
Berkeley Square House, Berkeley
Square, London W1, 020-3764 2000.
Open all week, lunch noon-3pm, dinner
5.30-11.30pm (11pm Sun). From £40
a head, including drinks and service.
Food, atmosphere and value for money
ratings Go on, take a wild guess
here. I genuinely thought I’d fall for
Sexy Fish: bring on that trashy
opulence. (That hotel in Macau, for
instance – the Grand Lisboa, should
you want a boggle – well, I loved it.
A host of holographic goldfish led
me through a pitch-black tunnel to
my dinner table, made of mother-ofpearl. Sigh.) But it makes me come
over all horrified Edwardian dowager,
clutching pearls and gasping: “My
dears, the unspeakable vulgarity.”
None of this is deterring the place’s
natural constituency: already, there
have been sightings of Cliff Richard
and Piers Morgan. Imagine.
And, naturally, it’s already booked
out; we have to accept a 10pm table
on a school night. You come to
Berkeley Square for your Bentleys
and Bugattis, and here is the
restaurant that this part of London
so richly deserves. We’re told Sexy
Fish cost £20m. A table of men
beside us hardly look up from their
phones all night; as far as this lot are
concerned, they might as well have
papered the walls with 50 quid
notes and have done with it.
The Guardian Weekend | 26 December 2015 59