Read award-winning food and wine writer Fiona Beckett's review of the notorious Sexy Fish restaurant...
Sexy Fish Mayfair, London
‘Helloooooo – this is Keith from Sexy Fish!’ No, I’m not availing myself of an escort agency but being asked by London’s newest and blingiest seafood restaurant if I still want my table. As if I’d be inclined to cancel. It’s such a hotspot with the glitterati that it was all I could do to snag a late lunch on a Thursday.
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So why make the effort? Well Sexy Fish (a working title that apparently stuck) has an impeccable pedigree. It’s the latest opening from Richard Caring of Caprice Holdings, owners of The Caprice, The Ivy and Scott’s but this time he’s gone into overdrive.
At least £15m has reputedly been spent on fitting out the prime Berkeley Square site including works by über architect Frank Gehry and conceptual artist Damien Hirst who has gone in this time for blue bas-relief mermaids rather than dead sheep. All very Vegas. You can immediately spot the business plan – a chain of Sexy Fishes being opened wherever high rollers hang out.
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From the decor we didn’t expect much in the way of food – wrongly as it turned out. The raw dishes were the highlight. Obviously we couldn’t resist the Sexy Fish Rolls, a fresh-tasting assembly of raw tuna and crunchy vegetables reminiscent of Vietnamese summer rolls. Tuna tartare came scattered with truffle shavings, mosaic-like slices of octopus carpaccio were beautifully draped across the plate. Latching onto the current craze for clean eating there are few carbs – apart from some rather tasty prawn gyoza. Caring clearly has the world’s supermodels in his sights.
On the debit side miso-glazed Chilean seabass (at a hefty £30) was carelessly filleted with lethally large bones lurking in every bite which might give rise to a few expensive court cases, the duck in the crisp duck salad was a bit stringy and tempura is definitely better applied to other vegetables than sprouts.
The weird contradiction is that those who obsess about healthy food are also quite willing to pile into the puds. A white and dark chocolate tofu dessert (dairy-free of course) was surprisingly indulgent though a couple of scoops of Rice Crispy [sic] Green Tea and Soy and Caramel Ice-Creams, at £2.75 a pop, made a delicious and surprisingly well-priced end to the meal.
It was easy to clock up a £100 a head bill without doing any serious damage to the wine list. A couple of glasses of sake (a Akashi-Tai’s Honjozo, £9 each) in my case, a glass of Meulenhof’s Devon-Schiefer Riesling 2013 (£12.50) and Bodega Colomé’s Torrontés 2014 (£9.50) in my friend’s. The Champagne section of the list, which is big on prestige cuvées like Salon’s Le Mesnil 2002 (£415) and Bruno Paillard’s Nec Plus Ultra 1996 (£440) is predictably pricey. And a host of large-format bottles too – a methuselah of DP 1995? That’ll be £7,000. There’s 10 fine wines served by Coravin (from Château-Grillet 2007 at £37 for 125ml) to and a list of first growths climaxing in a 1982 Latour (£5,800) – a wine you feel wouldn’t be remotely flattered by the food.
The length of time allotted for lunch – a generous three hours if you book at two – gave us plenty of time to get to know our neighbours. On the one hand a hugely engaging football club owner’s wife (and, I later discovered, ex-porn star) who confided how useful Sexy Fish was as she could pop down from her house next to the Ritz. On the other a suave gent of a certain age who insisted on sharing his second bottle of Dom Pérignon’s Luminous 2004 (£375) with us.
I can’t guarantee you equally entertaining companions, but if you visit Sexy Fish you certainly won’t be bored.
*Fiona Beckett is a Decanter contributing editor and chief restaurant reviewer.
Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square
London W1J 6BR
+ 44 (0)20 3764 2000
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