Meal courtesy of Circus
Event attended by Ed T @onehungryasian and published by Steph
History and Background:
London has restaurants and theatre acts by the dozen, and venues that combine the two are popping up throughout the city. Circus, hidden away in Covent Garden, is one such place that describes itself as a “cabaret restaurant” offering cocktails, Pan-Asian food, and the all important circus acts to entertain guests throughout their evening.
As a concept, it’s great to combine dinner and the show in one. Every 20 minutes or so, an act gets up on the stage-cum-main dining table (only available for large groups), and performs acrobatic feats to dazzle and wow the guests. There’s a great spark of excitement and theatre as the lights dim, music kicks in and the acrobats act out a small scene to set the story. A bit awkward when it comes to eating as you might not be able to see your plate, but you wouldn’t want to take your eyes off the acts for the 5 minutes or so they perform.
The venue itself isn’t particularly large, and every table can see the main stage where all the acts perform. But large mirrors, plush decor and careful lighting
create the impression of a spacious venue. If you’re one of a large group, you may be lucky enough to be sat at the main table which doubles as the stage. You’ll receive an upfront experience
as the acrobats are quite literally within touching distance as they balance on one another, or spin from a hoop attached to the ceiling.
The menu is Pan-Asian themed and split into sharing dishes across starters, mains and desserts – an important thing to take note of as guests are asked to order a minimum of 2 courses (one of which must be a main). Starters of date and water chestnut gyoza
and tempura sweet red prawns
were perfectly cooked and crispy, and were a great way to kick start the meal. The prawns especially were served with a chilli aioli
which we were tempted to just keep to eat with every course we’d ordered that evening!
The rest of the starters includes sushi in various forms, dim sum and other tempura dishes – with plenty of attention paid to fish, meat and vegetable lovers alike.
Along with the starters, the mains are also meant to be served with dishes served on large plates or portioned up for diners to pick at quickly. An abalone mushroom toban yaki (braised mushroom)
was a spectacular hit, with large slices of the abalone mushroom hitting all the right umami spots, and the great balance of herbs to lighten the broth. A large piece of miso cod made for a great main dish, with the grilled miso sauce creating almost a crust on the fish that was seriously addictive. And a nice touch was the sprinkling of seeds on the rice to give it a diferent twist!
Finally, desserts, which unlike the starters and mains, are not for sharing. Partially because they’re not designed to be, and also because you won’t want to. The chocolate fondant was slightly overcooked and didn’t have the gooey middle we all dream of, but it was still a decent chocolate pudding that I’d scoff down any time. But the filled churros with dulche de leche sauce and poached peaches? Wowza. Just get it. Perfectly cooked churros that aren’t heavy, dry or stodgy? Heaven.
Overall we were impressed with the food here, it’s by no means cheap but it is very good. In the 2.5 hours we were there we saw 5 acts, albeit the last 2 were fresh spins on acts we’d seen earlier in the night. Once you throw in the performances and the fun atmosphere, I’d say Circus is definitely worth visiting on a special occasion, and as many others did, in a larger sized group. The venue turns into a club later on and that party vibe is palpable from the moment you sit down and continues through the night. And while the acts don’t feature nudity or anything explicit, they’re somewhat risque and cheeky, so best to leave the kids at home!