Let’s talk about Sexy Fish.
Trouted as the hottest opening of the year, the plaice has been making waves in Berkeley Square ever since the indomitable restaurateur Richard Caring took over the site of a former Natwest bank in early 2014.
From the extravagant artwork to onyx marble floors and no-expense-spared interiors by Martin Brudnizki, it’s seariously all we’ve been herring about.
Reely excited to experience it for ourselves, the girls and I seized the oppor-tuna-ty to indulge in a long and lazy lunch here over the weekend.
Do read on – I promise to try and stop with these terrible fish puns, they’re a right pain in the bass I know.
Flanked on either side by Damien Hirst’s blue patinated bronze mermaids, the grandiose lava-countered bar presented an attractive proposition for a pre-lunch tipple, as we walked in.
I started with a Maiko, a delicate combination of peach sake, lychee, kaffir sherbet & rose. While a Shipwrecked washed up for Anisha, a breezy concoction of Plymouth gin, bergamot and manzanilla, with pineapple and edible sand (!) that was a bit like escaping to a tropical paradise.
We drank in the stunning details of the restaurant too – the waterfall gently cascading down the windows by the bar and various art installations including another by Hirst (in the form of a bronze relief panel of a mermaid with a shark) and a 13ft glittering black crocodile by Frank Gehry against the wall at the far end.
A series of paper fish lamps by Gehry are also seen whimsically hanging above the bar, from oriental-inspired ceilings that are panelled with hand-printed linen by Vanity Fair’s style editor-at-large, Michael Roberts. Even the floors are stunning, covered lavishly with Iranian Esmeralda onyx.
Plonking ourselves down on a cosy banquette, we munched on the salted edamame that arrived while we mull(et)ed over the Asian-inspired seafood menu.
Let’s address the whale in the room that regular readers are likely concerned about. How was a pure vegetarian like me going to subsist in a predominantly seafood joint? Well you guys, I was incredibly pleased to see a separate veggie/ vegan menu on request. But more on that later.
The girls ripped through a selection of sharing plates, rendering the food to be par-excellence in terms of the freshness and quality of fish.
To begin, they ordered a couple of dishes from the raw bar, finding much to like in the sharp flavours of the tartare of tuna belly presented with soy-cured egg yolk and a side of crispy lotus chips.
The Sexy Fish Roll encasing salmon & yellowtail in a Vietnamese-style paper roll was also well received, as was the crisp duck salad laced with pomegranate molasses for a touch of sweetness, alongside nutty sesame, pomelo & sakura herbs.
The crispy salt & pepper cornish squid arrived on the house, as a must-try. The girls found this cooked perfectly, the batter not too fried which yielded a meatier texture.
Many have waxed lyrical about the Brussels sprouts tempura here, including the most discerning of critics Grace Dent… and with good reason. It was dangerously easy to lose count of how many of these crisp, golden batter-fried curry-dusted vegetables we snuck in.
From the vegetarian menu, I ordered a Japrese salad. The Asian twist on the Italian classic substitutes mozzarella for a soft yet firm tofu, that pairs quite well with tart tomatoes kissed with a sweetly tangy sherry vinegar and soy dressing.
Gorgonzola tortilla skewers drizzled with honey were lovely but personally, too strong in flavour for me. No doubt however, that blue cheese-aficionados would find much to delight in these.
The salt & pepper tofu was a tad disappointing as to be honest, it was a bit bland and lacking the moreish quality of say it’s equivalent at Hakkasan…
But the baked eggplant miso that followed more than compensated. I have to say that this is one of my top dishes to order at a Japanese restaurant, the one at Nobu is especially a favourite.
Sexy Fish’ rendition is definitely quite something else. Heavy on the miso and light on added sugar, the melt-in-your-mouth slivers of tender aubergine had a distinctly earthy dimension, that was more salty and savoury than sweet…
More cocktails were ordered at some point in the afternoon. This time, a skinny bellini for me – with sake instead of peach puree for a deliciously lighter take on the classic champagne cocktail.
Dessert presented a bit of a conundrum. Everything sounded far too appealing and so we simply couldn’t resist calling for three between two (one of the group was sitting out the sugar fest).
Bursting forth with a surge of rich chocolate sauce, the four chocolate & praline fondant here is undoubtedly the best I’ve had. Decadent yet not a cloying sweet, it was perfect.
White and dark chocolate tofu with candied cacao nibs was a surprisingly light mousse, that definitely made my post-workout protein-fix for the day that much more enjoyable.
While the matcha and ginger marble cake made for a heavenly tea-time fancy to go with our herbal tea. Oozing an emerald green matcha sauce at the core, it was served with gingerbread ice cream and caramel sauce.
The unhurried ambience complemented by a friendly and impeccable service added much to our overall experience. We had walked in at around 2pm and by the time we were done with our cocktails, chatter & constant supply of food, we were amazed to realise that it was past 6!
But before leaving, we just couldn’t resist a peek at the magnificent coral reef tanks (one of the largest in the worlds) occupying pride of place in the private dining room downstairs…
Great food, great vibes and above all, great company. It really was a fin-tastic Saturday afternoon.
Sexy Fish London, Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, London W1J 6BR