Saturday, 30 January 2010

A Trip to the Circus

On Wednesday night I visited new Covent Garden restaurant Circus.

What’s the Deal: Circus serves up Pan-American fare in a super-modern setting designed by lighting guru Tom Dixon with an added element of live entertainment served up alongside your meal.

The press release says, “The entrance to the venue will be subtle, almost secret with a distressed black steel finish, barely hinting at the wonders within”.

Well they got that right! After un-glamorously changing out of my Ugg boots and into my stilettos in front of a group of blokes outside the pub adjacent to the restaurant and then continuing to walk up and down Endell Street in Covent Garden, the doorman of The Hospital Club took pity on us and pointed out the entrance. We then spent another five minutes looking like tits trying to work out how to open the door before finally bursting in from the cold.

We were escorted through the open-plan restaurant to our table. The centrepiece was a party table for 20 + diners which took up the bulk of the space. Stairs led up each end of the table and a round trapeze hoop was centered above it. This was clearly the focal point for the evening’s entertainment.

Our table was in a separate section backed by the bar and a low ceiling, which was covered in silver Tom Dixon spherical lights.

Tom Dixon has designed the whole space, one of the highlights being the unisex bathroom. Anyone spotted in Fabric in the 90’s talking shit and trying to work out how to turn on the tap at the sink will no doubt reminisce as I did when they get there.

However once you’ve located the tap, the addition of Molton Brown hand wash and the absence of wasted people in the toilet cubicles makes it all the more comforting that you’re no longer going raving. For anyone who hasn’t got a clue what I’m on about, let’s just say the bathroom is made up entirely of grey stone and taps are at first hard to locate.

We sipped on our espresso martinis and waited in suspense for some ‘circus entertainment’.

Our tall leggy Eastern European-sounding waitress looked after us well. We ordered scallops and red and yellow beet and goat’s cheese salad to start. The scallops were firm and flavoursome but for £9.50, I would have expected more than four slices of scallop served in a seashell. The beet salad was fresh and the goat’s cheese was light and creamy but again could have done with a bit more goat’s cheese and a bit less of the medley of green leaves.

For mains we opted for BBQ ribs, tuna steak, and side orders of zucchini (that’s courgette to all non US natives) and green beans, and hush puppies – which turned out to be deep-fried corn fritters. The pork was cooked beautifully - melt in the mouth – but I prefer ribs to be smothered in BBQ sauce and an altogether messier affair. The tuna steak was generous in size, but coated in a strange mix of dry spices which didn’t work at all well with the smoothness of the raw fish.

Periodically throughout the night, the lights dimmed, the waitresses stood to the side and a scantily-clad burlesque acrobat walked up onto the main table and writhed around on her ring to music.

Lastly we polished off peanut butter brownie and gingerbread for dessert, which were both tasty, and downed the remains of our Rioja before braving the January air for the march home.

The Final Word:
I was expecting a little more performing than one girl on a rope, but the girls in the cloakroom said weekends were much more lively with performances throughout the room as well as on the hoop. The food is good but not remarkable and very overpriced in places. However, for an evening with an added element of fun, Circus definitely does the trick (excuse the pun) and is definitely worth the trip for a girls night out or a special occasion.

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