SL Reviews: Freak Scene | sheerluxe.com
We’ve been massive fans of Scott Hallsworth since he headed up Nobu in Park Lane, and this continued when he went on to launch his Asian fusion-focused Kurobuta in Chelsea. We’ve even attempted to rustle up some of the easier dishes from his Junk Food Japan cookbook, but now we’re ready to let him take the reins once more as he launches Freak Scene in Soho…
Favourites 10

The concept…

Hallsworth describes Freak Scene, his new place on Frith Street, as a place for discovering ‘curious Asian plates’. We really like the new set-up – guests can book a seat at the table (something of a rarity these days) and most of the dishes are designed for sharing between two. Given the nature of the counter-top seating, we reckon going as a pair works best – many of the dishes come as two pieces, and you won’t have to shout down the line.

The setting…

This site was originally Barrafina Frith Street. As per the tapas restaurant – and Adam Simmond’s Test Kitchen pop-up, which came afterwards – the chefs are the star of the show, cooking behind the bar-style seating that surrounds the open kitchen. Yet the décor for Freak Scene couldn’t be any more different from the clean white walls and utilitarian look of those that came before it. Instead, posters of rock stars (we were sitting next to a young Nick Cave) and Japanese films take centre stage. The bits of wall that you can see have been painted black, and above the bar a huge TV screen plays malevolent Japanese gameshow Takeshi’s Castle on loop. And the music is loud – I spent most of the evening reliving my youth as the playlist spun everything from 90s Green Day to AC/DC. If you’re after a quiet catch up over a glass of wine, this ain’t the place to do it.

The food…

We’ve had salmon on pizza before and weren’t convinced. But if anyone can pull it off, it’s Hallsworth – at Freak Scene, the ‘pizza’ base is with Loch Duart salmon sashimi, truffle ponzu, jalapeno and wasabi fish roe. It’s delicious, but by no means the best part of the menu. We recommend starting with the flavour-packed chilli crab and avocado wonton ‘bombs’ (they go incredibly with a cold beer) before progressing to the miso-grilled black cod tacos with sushi rice and scorched red chilli salsa (a highlight). Elsewhere, the seared hanger steak salad with pomegranate, onion-peanut ponzu and garlic chips packs a punch, while the melt-in-the-mouth ‘Chicken-Fried Chicken’ with peanut soy and sweet-and-sour pickles is some of the best fried chicken we’ve ever tasted.
 

The drinks…

You know you’re in for a great night when the drinks list is longer than the main menu. We suggest kicking things off with a Wild Beer Co Yokai, which is served as a 2/3 pint and topped with a frozen ‘Sleeping Lemons Head’ – think of it as an extra-fun Mr Whippy. From there, we were rather partial to the Green Bastard – a mix of gin, Midoiri, cucumber and line. It could almost be a healthy juice… A plentiful sake menu complements the Asian flavours – particularly the sour pickle-heavy fried chicken – while its shot version, the Sake Bomb, is a perfect end-of-the-meal wake up call. We couldn’t quite bring ourselves to ask for the other shot on the list, the Wet Pussy – it was only a Monday, after all…

The verdict…

The food at Freak Scene is first-class (we genuinely fought over who’d get the last spoonful of hot chocolate mousse with passionfruit parfait and caramelised pecans), but most importantly this place is really, really fun. For a start, Hallsworth’s cooking seems a more natural fit for Soho than Chelsea and Mayfair. But it’s the fact that this is a restaurant with the look and feel of a dive bar that makes it stand out – for all the right reasons. We hope to be dining alongside Mr Cave – and Hallsworth and the team – again very soon. We might even muster up the courage to order a few more of those cocktails…

54 Frith St, Soho W1D 4SL

Visit FreakScene.london

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