If you’re expecting clown shoes, daring tightrope walkers or the bearded lady you may be disappointed. The entertainment at this pan Asian restaurant comes in the form of an eclectic mix of cabaret acts – Welcome to Circus London.
Cocktail bar Covent Garden
Walking past a surly looking bouncer and through an inconspicuous door you are greeted by two glamorous ladies. The venue is designed by Tom Dixon with a futuristic and decadent vibe – think monochrome patterned walls and surrealist art.
Taking pride of place in front of the open kitchen is a large white catwalk where all the acts perform – Oh and it also doubled up as our communal dining table. Being part of large birthday party we had to order the sharing menu for 8+ guests (£70pp). For a smaller group there is the à la carte menu.
It started with a glass of prosecco and edamame beans on ice topped with sea salt and soy mirin. The rest of the food appeared tapas style and it was a case of diving in across the very large platform-come-table if you didn’t want to miss out.
The starters comprised of chicken truffle shumai, chilli salt squid, prawn som tam salad which was full of green mango, roasted peanuts, papaya, long beans, cherry tomatoes and a vegetarian sushi selection made from roasted and raw seasonal vegetable in maki rolls. The veggies also enjoyed an extra dish of chestnut mushroom gyoza and an incredibly spicy pumpkin spring roll.
The vegetarian main was abalone mushroom with spinach and chilli, it looked lovely. The taste did not live up to the look. It was drowning in soy sauce which even this salt fiend found hard to take.
The spring vegetable green curry which was part of the main menu was far superior on the taste scale and the abalone mushroom was swiftly regulated to the bottom of the leader board.
Meanwhile, team carnivore attacked the Scottish Black Angus fillet steak, with shiitake and caramelised butter soy and a fish number of white miso salmon, with baby pickled ginger and lime. It was all accompanied by sides of baby bok choy – so bland! I’m convinced the chef forgot to add the soy, ginger and garlic. The smoked aubergine however, more than made up for it. It was melt in your mouth good, made with white miso, palm sugar and chipotle chilli. And not forgetting the steamed rice topped with toasted sesame which helped mop everything up.
Dessert definitely scored the number one slot. A baked vanilla cheesecake bento box, with a passionfruit and ginger cream to dip the chocolate candy lollipop. The cheesecake was perfectly smooth and creamy – and not too sweet.
By now we were all pretty stuffed, but the food conveyer belt didn’t end there. Out came the birthday cake and the singing of ‘Happy Birthday’.
Now to the entertainment (which happened in between courses). The start is signalled by the shutters on the kitchen hatches rolling down. Sat on the main banquet table which doubled up as the stage, we were subjected to staff removing everything off the tables for each act. After about the third time – It did get a tad irritating. There was also the slight hygiene issue of people walking and writhing around on a table your about to eat food from. I witnessed no wipe down in between acts – The price you pay if you want to sit at the main table.
Over the two hour allocated time slot, we saw four acts. A biker chick fire-eater who made her entrance by driving a child’s motorcycle down the table. Make of that what you will. It looked bizarre. After frolicking with her fire batons, she climaxed twirling her flaming nipple tassels like a catherine wheel – you don’t see that every day.
This was followed by a guy who pulled some pretty impressive acrobatic shapes on a suspended hoop.
And another chap who flaunted gymnastically from bands of cloth. I almost felt like I should be holding up a scorecard like a judge at the end. He would have got a se-VEN.
Bride of Chucky was thrown in for good measure too, belting out a couple of tunes.
Once the acts were over we were very quickly ushered from our seats to a designated bar area. The tables and chairs shuffled away. Voila! The whole place turns into a nightclub just like that.
The drinks menu is excellent. Cocktails all come with a twist at a tenner a pop if any tickle your fancy – Like the Genbu Girl, vodka, eleven Chinese spices, homemade watercress puree, orange, lime and apricot brandy or a Bee Boy, gin, lemon juice, ginger cordial, Mexican honey and cloudy apple juice.
The venue does operate some house rules – over 21s only, no hens or stags and no fancy dress and a ‘wonderful effort’ must be made in terms of dress code. Adhere to these rules and you should be in for a fun, quirky night.
Does contemporary circus and burlesque float your boat? Let me know in the comments box below.
Circus London | 27 – 29 Endell Street | Covent Garden | London | WC2H 9BA