20 July 2016
Six months on from opening and some – but not all – of the hype about Sexy Fish has died down. We all know now about the £15m allegedly spent on furnishing the place and almost everybody who wants to be somebody has probably been and tweeted about the experience already. More than anything else, I had been put off by the absurdity of the name – since when were fish specifically sexy? Surely food is for kitchens and restaurants while sex is for bedrooms? Indeed, when I dine out, the adjective I generally seek to apply to my meal would not be sexy, perhaps tasty instead. The two are not the same, and when you add in hype and pretentious people, the end-product is generally rather unsexy. Against my better judgement, however, I undertook a recent visit to Sexy Fish. It left me feeling not only broadly indifferent, but also very glad that someone else had paid. The tone was probably set at the door; greeted by an affected young man dressed in what I presume was a very trendy outfit. No less than three women in tight dresses then welcomed me at the reception desk before one escorted me to my table. Arriving before my guest, I was able to take in the scene. It’s certainly impressive what money can buy and it is hard to conceive that this building formerly housed a branch of the Natwest. Despite the lavishness and the expense, the ceiling did feel remarkably low, therefore creating a slight sense of claustrophobia. Other reviewers have previously noted light levels (not enough) and music volume (too much), both points on which I would concur. The food set-up here is almost yawningly predictable – take Zuma and Roka and add in maybe a couple of twists and there you pretty much have it. Pricing is also similar, although a fillet of prime beef could set you back £85 at Sexy Fish, while 50g of caviar would burn an even bigger hole in your pocket. More mundane offerings such as ‘house salad’ also bordered on the outrageous in terms of pricing; surely £9.50 for said item is a little steep? That said, we couldn’t fault our dishes, even if our well-meaning waiter with poor English language skills omitted one item from our order. The tuna tartare was melt-in-the-mouth tender and accompanying lotus chips a well-matched revelation. Similarly, the miso-glazed Chilean sea bass was executed skilfully and paired well with artichoke. We couldn’t help wondering though whether more effort had been put into the presentation perhaps at the expense of potentially even better preparation. For many dining here (and indeed the two Russian girls at the next table), getting a good picture on Instagram seems to matter more than actually eating the dish, especially if you have a waif-like figure to preserve. In terms of the drinks, Sexy Fish does have one of the better wine lists I have seen recently, with a range of both brands and boutiques, pitched across a wide price spectrum. We thoroughly enjoyed our Grosset Polish Hill Riesling from Australia. I did not see the bill, but based on my comrade’s selection, the costs must have racked up. For this amount of money, I would rather have dined at nearby C-London or Petite Maison or maybe even Roka at a push. You can find an in-crowd here and a not dissimilarly priced bill. If I had not gone to Sexy Fish, my life would not be markedly different.