Restaurant Review: Sticks ‘N’ Sushi, Covent Garden

Sticks ‘N’ Sushi – You Maki Miso Happy

Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden was a turning point. I never understood what the fuss was all about. Sushi – uniform slivers of translucent fish, wrapped up in something or other. I mean, what was there really to get excited about? I thought sushi was an overpriced excuse for a meal, something for the pretentious and anorexic. How wrong I was. Sticks ‘N’ Sushi opened my eyes to a new world of flavours and exotic ingredients, each more exciting than the last.

Once seated, I was handed the sexiest menu in existence. Although overwhelming, I leafed through this glossy erotica, dribbling over the sheer aesthetics of it all. I was interrupted by exceptionally elegant cocktails promptly arriving; the ‘Yuzu Zoo’ ethereal citrus and plum notes delightfully danced around a distinguished gin base.

Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden followed a tapas format, with small but perfectly formed plates arriving quickly and often. For those with big appetites and expensive tastes, Sticks N Sushi was potentially exorbitant. However, the lower priced options were delicious, and dishes quickly added up to become surprisingly satisfying.

The Tuna Tartare was one of Sticks N Sushi’s premium dishes, and stunning was an understatement. Dressed up like a miniature fairy tail garden, the fine muscular units of tuna hiding underneath were world class. The tartare was so graceful in its presentation and flavour combinations that I savoured every morsel like Charlie Bucket with his Wonka chocolate bar.

The Spicy Tuna Maki was another dish I’d suggest is essential eating. Miso Aioli lovingly clung to the handsome tuna, which was itself maternally embraced by perfect rice. I now predict Miso Aioli to become the hipster condiment of 2017, dethroning 2016’s Flying Goose Siracha. I loved the Masago element too – tiny orange gems, tactfully adding colour, texture and taste.

The ‘Sticks’ element of the restaurant’s name is down to dishes like the grilled sweet potato (on a stick). The dish had a clever smokiness, and its Teriyaki dressing lifted this humble ingredient to something of status. The Gypsy Rolls were carefully prepared and offered decent value for money, as I attempted to bulk out the meal without breaking the bank.

Unfortunately, the desserts at Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden were something of a non-event. Diners choose from a variety of colourful things in the shape of golf balls, none of which left an impression. My advice is to skip pudding and take another look at the excellent cocktail menu.

Currently ranked 122 of 17,720 restaurants in London, Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden earned this pedigree by offering thoughtfully prepared majestic dishes in a sophisticated, cosmopolitan environment.


Sticks N’ Sushi Covent Garden
Review Summary

Atmosphere 10  Cost 6  Quality 9  Service 9

Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden Restaurant Review
Maki – Gypsy Roll
Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden Restaurant Review
Maki – Spicy Tuna
Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden London Restaurant Review
Yakitori – Satsumaimo Yaki
Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden Restaurant Review
Tuna Tartare
Sticks N Sushi Covent Garden Restaurant Review
Fondant, Mochi Ice Cream & Dark Chocolate

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Covent Garden

Bar Review: The Hawksmoor Seven Dials, Covent Garden

The Hawksmoor Seven Dials – Meating Of Minds

I was drawn to The Hawksmoor after Giles Coren advised it served: “the best steak you will find anywhere”. The Hawksmoor Group has seven locations (six in London, one in Manchester) but the Seven Dials branch proudly ranked highest on TripAdvisor (124 out of 17,095), so I followed the herd in more ways than one. The Hawksmoor Seven Dials in Covent Garden is named after a seven street junction, each with respective sundials. Despite every road leading to it, The Hawksmoor Seven Dials is deceptively camouflaged – the unassuming entrance only added to the intrigue.

It wasn’t my drinking debut at The Hawksmoor Seven Dials, having wisely trusted Giles’s steak advice (he wasn’t wrong). On this occasion, I only had eyes for the bar. Leafing through the menu reading ‘Absinthe Pina Colada’ and ‘Full Fat Old Fashioned’ in the same breath, I fell hopelessly in love.

Hawksmoor Seven Dials legend Nicole kookily orchestrated the proceedings, being knowledgeable, gracious and welcoming in equal measure. She advised the Full Fat Old Fashioned was a “game changer” – naturally I couldn’t refuse. This serious libation was patiently prepared, so I planned on giving it the respect it deserved. It was too good: rather than sipping and savouring, I greedily guzzled it down like a scene from Ice Cold In Alex.

The Hawksmoor Seven Dials’ best selling drink is Shakey Pete’s Ginger Brew, achieving cult status; served in pleasingly over-sized tankards, I lived out my pirate fantasies without a court summons. This fabulous concoction was the best ginger beer in town: ice cold, extravagantly frothy and mightily refreshing.

The Hawksmoor Seven Dials bar was handsomely stocked with quality bottles – many unfamiliar – of all shapes and sizes. I spotted Lagavulin, which I thought was my favourite whisky. I was poured Caol Ila and wryly told: “if you don’t prefer it – it’s free”. Predictably, my eyes were opened, and I happily paid. As the staff knew my favourite drink before I did, I was eager to learn what floated their boat. The Hawksmoor Seven Dials staff were partial to gentlemanly drops of Mezcal, something I’m relatively unfamiliar with. Two shots later I saw the appeal: beautifully smokey, slightly sweet but still put hairs on my chest.

A Sazerac – the dark prince of the cocktail world – was promptly made to order, with Nicole nodding in silent approval.  David Wondrich described it best:

“A proper drink at the right time—one mixed with care and skill and served in a true spirit of hospitality—is better than any other made thing at giving us the illusion, at least, that we’re getting what we want from life. A cat can gaze upon a king, as the proverb goes, and after a Dry Martini or a Sazerac Cocktail or two, we’re all cats.”

A zippy Margarita was soon whipped together, further jazzed up by the addition of fresh ginger. All this lead me to the conclusion that The Hawksmoor Seven Dials is my favourite bar. Bravo!

The Hawksmoor Seven Dials
Review Summary

Atmosphere 10  Cost 5  Quality 10  Service 10

Hawksmoor Seven Dials Review
Something different…
Hawksmoor Seven Dials Review
Shakey Pete Ginger Beer & Caol Ila
Hawksmoor Seven Dials Review
Ginger Margarita & Sazerac
Hawksmoor Seven Dials Review
A martini (of sorts)

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Seven Dials

Bar Review: Crazy Bear, Beaconsfield

Can’t Bear The Crazy Prices

The elusive and exclusive Crazy Bear Beaconsfield had intrigued me for some time. Their glitzy website extolled baroque glamour; ironically, the entrance and exterior re-defined nondescript. I had previously walked passed Crazy Bear Beaconsfield on several occasions, in complete ignorance that a five-star hotel sat hidden in plain view. Going through the ironically featureless doorway, one would never anticipate the extravagant bonanza waiting behind.

The Crazy Bear Beaconsfield unique interior – the lovechild of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Marie Antoinette – is not to everyone’s taste. In my heightened sense of camp giddiness, I very much enjoyed it. If there were an award (and there should be) for ‘Bar With The Best Smoking Area’, it would win hands down. The Crazy Bear Beaconsfield no doubt offered a sense of theatre: this was not the time nor place for two pints of larger and a packet of crisps. There was a lot going; a restaurants downstairs, annexedxed buildings offered country-chic private dining, while the lavatories were a spectacle in themselves.

The Crazy Bear Beaconsfield Cocktail Menu was top drawer: very classic without being stale. But here is my gripe – the clientele did not appreciate real cocktails. The ladies who lunch only drank Pornstar Martinis (yay a passion fruit), Strawberry Daiquiris (yay a strawberry) or a Cosmopolitans (yay nostalgic DVD Box-Set). Make no mistake, the Crazt Bear Beaconsfield bar staff knew what they were doing: all the hard-hitting cocktails hit the spot. The Manhattans were carefully crafted and the Martinis as good as anywhere. I just lamented that the bar staff’s commendable enthusiasm was largely unappreciated.

Regarding value, at £15 per drink, a boozy night in the Crazy Bear Beaconsfield is expensive – unjustifiably so in my opinion. If you are a camp millionaire, it’s bang up your proverbial. The abundance of multimillion pound properties in Beaconsfield suggested drinkers probably were. For out-of-towners who’ve had one too many (or gotten lucky) and need to discreetly stay the night, on site accommodation is easily arranged (for £450).

The Crazy Bear Beaconsfield
Review Summary

Atmosphere 8/10    Cost 2/10    Quality 10/10    Service 10/10

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