Sunday, 22 August 2010


The indulgent supper club hit Circus restaurant in Covent Garden last week for our latest culinary treat. I’d heard good things on the grapevine about this place, and was intrigued whether the concept of having an acrobat swinging over my starter was going to sink or swim.

Circus is on the further side of Long Acre to Charing Cross where it changes from big high street brands to kooky boutiques and fun restaurants, so the location is pretty spot-on. The big black doorway with no sign above it isn’t exactly welcoming, but you definitely get the vibe of exclusivity. The reception is like a flashy club rather than a restaurant. But I guess that’s what they’re going for. After all it’s not meant to be your normal dining experience.

A very glam hostess escorted us to our table. We were there for the first sitting at 7.30 pm and the place was packed! The interior was designed by none other than our Brit hero Tom Dixon. This cabaret come restaurant is decadent and sexy. Diners sit at intimate spot lit tables, and funky beats pervade the achingly cool atmosphere.

The centrepiece is a wide banqueting table under the main atrium, where all the action happens. The stairs leading up to the ‘stage’ and hoop suspended from the ceiling kind of give the cabaret game away. You expect Nicole Kidman singing 'Diamonds are a girls' best friend' at the top of her lungs to swing over your head any minute. There is a real excitement in the air. Perhaps it's in anticipation of the performances or just its vibrant vibe.

On to the food... The Pan American menu is as you'd expect. Full of American classics like slow roasted beef short ribs, fried squid, and Mac and cheese… Pas pour moi, but there is something for everyone I guess. To start I had the Red and Golden Beet salad with almonds and goat’s cheese. Nothing special but not bad either. The Crispy fried baby squid was yummy though.

For main I had the Spicy Crab Cakes which were good, but the accompanying veg wasn’t cooked well and my mushrooms were burnt. I hate to say, but the service wasn’t great, and they got my order wrong. However in their defence the portions were decent and they rectified their mistake by bringing me my correct order really quickly. But we knew the food wasn’t the main reason we were there, and as we finished our first course the lights dimmed for the show.

The opening act was a contact juggler who moved like he was made of rubber. He rolled the ball all over his body, throwing it up and catching it on his head, neck… and then moved his hands in such a way that the ball looked like it was floating. Amazing!

The second slot was a balancing act. Two gorgeous blondes in skin tight black suits, holding each other in crazy balancing positions. It was rather depressing watching their super hot flexible bodies as I tucked in to more chips, but it was a definite treat for the boys.

The third and final act was the hoop. I expected a tiny girl in a leotard to spring up there, but instead we had a gothy grumpy bloke in skinny jeans. He was ok, but not as impressive as the previous two.

I thought that the performances might be a disturbance but they were such a welcome part of the evening. They didn’t last too long, came in 45-minute intervals and were all really entertaining. There are loads of different acts on all the time, so hopefully you'll see something new each time you go. Once dinner has finished the whole place seamlessly turns into a dance floor and it's cocktail o'clock. Sadly we couldn't stick around for that, but I can imagine how fun it must be.

In my opinion, the concept seems to have worked - Circus definitely swims. It’s been open for 9 months and it’s still tricky to get a table. It’s good for a fun night, and a great date destination. The intimate dimly lit tables are romantic, and the intermittent acts mean that you wouldn’t run out of things to chat about! Things to bear in mind – book in advance, and I wouldn’t have wanted to sit at the main banqueting table. Much nicer to sit further away and watch from afar.

To sum it up, Circus is good for the gimmick but not for the food. And that’s fine because that’s what you’re there for and you get a good show. In this respect the menu is reasonably priced considering what you get for your buck. But I'll definitely be going back for another piece of the drama, and hopefully I'll get to have a go on that swing!

Move over Nicole...


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