In 2015, Sexy Fish had ambitions on becoming the Chiltern Firehouse of two years ago, with all the buzz surrounding it, and absolutely impossible to get a table. The difference is that at Chiltern’s name isn’t stupid or implies it serves sexy food and that the food was actually good. I loved it on my first visit and liked it on the other times too. Sexy Fish on the other hand, despite the £20 million they spent on décor, didn’t impress me on either ambiance or the food. Of course it is a nice space, but it is massive and not intimate in any way and it is somewhat gaudy. A lot of marble, some big sculptures and a very large open kitchen. I also hear that the chef left soon after they opened and ran to Zuma.
We went for lunch and maybe dinner has a different vibe. Don’t get me wrong, it was busy and buzzy, full of mostly business types. A somewhat similar crowd you would usually find at Scott’s, but sadly not with the tasty seafood of its Mayfair neighbour.
What we ate:
Sashimi Yellowtail, Jalapeño & avocado: I’ve had so many better renditions of this dish. The yellowtail was uneven and slightly too thick and the sauce should have been more citrusy.
Beef Tataki, crispy shallots, toasted rice & truffle: it was a nicely flavoured dish, probably because of the truffles but the dressing was also good. The only weird facet was that there were some crunchy bits on top that were completely flavourless and extremely hard, borderline inedible.
California Maki Roll: a boring and basic roll. I wasn’t excited as I am not a California roll type person, starting with the name! Sushi is not a Californian invention and I am quite certain Japanese people do not eat them.
Crisp Duck Salad: people tend to have a negative perception of Novikov, located a block from Sexy Fish but I am big fan of the food at their Asian restaurant, for lunch. (The crowd at night changes dramatically!) Sexy Fish’s chefs should pop into Novikov and try their duck salad and then replicate it, as it is so much better there. The Sexy Fish version doesn’t have enough duck and the bites sparsely found hiding between greens are way too crispy and the leaves are overdressed.
Smoked Eel: my friend Lesley came to Sexy Fish before it opened and she said that this dish was the best on the menu and of course she was spot on! The eel had a delicious barbecue glaze and the nice chunks of eel sat atop some rice hiding amongst some powder they called frozen Foie Gras. To be fair it didn’t have much of a foie flavour but it had a fun texture and the temperature contrast was interesting and unique. I also think this was the only somewhat original dish on the menu.
Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass: not a dish I would normally order as I find it a bit cliché but one of my fellow diners had been at Sexy Fish previously and said it was a must order and he was absolutely right. The fish was gorgeously white and flaky and the miso was subtle but powerful at once and was served with nicely cooked sunchokes.
We also had several other dishes that are in a lot of menus around such as a mixed meats on the robata, shrimp tempura and a chewy grilled lobster. None of them were particularly memorable.
Warm Vanilla Rice Pudding Banana, Macadamias, house Cronut: I am a sucker for rice pudding and since I refuse to stay hours on a line for a cronut and find the whole concept absurd, I had to try this dessert! I really enjoyed the creamy rice pudding with a subtle banana taste and macadamias for crunch. The cronut, I imagine, is very different than the ones people line up for as it was too dense and had no croissant flakiness.
Cinnamon Doughnuts Chocolate Sauce, Citrus Curd: light and well fried doughnuts with a nicely tangy curd. I am actually not a big doughnut fan (apart from the most amazing ones at Little Social) so I had one bite and went back to my rice pudding. I wanted to try the tofu chocolate dessert but sadly there were no takers in the group willing to share with me.
Service was pretty dismal. Our waitress was a clear case of “mau comida”, a Brazilian expression I will let you search for… or in a more polite way we could say she had woken up on the wrong side of the bed. She had an attitude and didn’t seem excited to work there or by the food… I guess I agree with her somewhat, but perhaps she should not be quite so transparent.
In sum: not Sexy apart from being called Sexy Fish, which seriously is one of the most ridiculous restaurant names anyway! I don’t even like the decor as it is a huge space and I prefer intimate and charming spots…maybe a result of living in Vegas and seeing too many gaudy bling bling restaurants…….
Sexy Fish http://www.sexyfish.com/