SquareMeal Review of
Kurobuta founder Scott Hallsworth is back with a bang at this firecracker of a chef’s counter which started life as a Clerkenwell pop up and has gone permanent on the Frith Street premises last occupied by the original Barrafina. Looks wise, little has changed since the Barrafina days, although the stools at the counter have been joined by further seating along the ledge where the queue used to be – a tight squeeze when busy, but at least Freak Scene takes bookings. Entertainment comes in the form of a mosh-pit of an indie playlist and replays of Japanese gameshow Takeshi’s Castle projected onto the wall.
The food, meanwhile, offers some of Kurobuta’s greatest hits (the salmon sashimi ‘pizza’ remains as riotously flavoured as ever) and while the cooking is never subtle, the umami explosion of sweet and salty is sure as hell tasty. Several dishes are served in taco variants to be greedily scooped up with the hands – black cod and sushi rice tacos re-invent the Nobu classic as junk food – and almost all come with the sort of sticky sauces that leave you smearing ingredients around the plate chasing one last flavour hit, including our favourite dish of aubergine grilled to a meltingly soft goo offset by the sugar-rush crunch of caramelised walnuts.
Come with a decent appetite and you could make a healthy stab at ordering most of the menu for around £50 a head. Wine prices will bump up the bill considerably (there’s iced tea for teetotallers and bargain hunters) but this is still great value for an experience that couldn’t be any more Soho, overseen by Hallsworth himself in the open kitchen.
Freak Scene is recommended for