I am not a big fan of the name ‘Freak Scene’ for a restaurant. This new eclectic Soho eatery claims, on its website, to be offering ‘Curious Asian Plates’. Initially the concept reminded me of ‘Flavour Bastard’, a restaurant just up the road which throws flavour, spice and sugar at a plate and hopes for success. Freak Scene is similar in idea, but the realisation is so much more thought-through and, well, tasty.
The small restaurant is centred around an open kitchen with bar seats, the same layout as many of the area’s best tapas and small plate venues. It is ideal for enthused Soho diners who want a bite to eat before or after a night out in town or at the theatre, but is less suitable for a long leisurely lunch or a relaxed family dinner.
Scott Hallsworth is the chef brains behind Freak Scene, a pan-Asian enterprise that initially started life as a pop-up. The restaurant is found tucked on Frith Street and takes inspiration from exciting Singaporean hawker centres with a live projection of the Japanese game show Takeshi’s Castle projected onto one wall.
Before this venture, Scott was cooking in the kitchens of Nobu as Head Chef, and also founded Kurobuta izakaya on King’s Road. The menu here is short with small plates (costing between £4.50 and £11.50) and all intended for sharing. They recommend 2-3 per person. I quickly spotted intriguing items like Jerusalem Artichoke ‘Chopsticks’ with Truffle-Ponzu Dip and Salmon Sashimi Pizza!
The drinks menu is equally wacky… after chatting through the options we chose to try the Monkey Gone to Heaven (a combination of whiskey, fresh green apple and ginger) and the Green Bastard (Gin, Midori, Cucumber and Lime)… both drinks arrived in a radioactive shade of lime green but tasted delicious, balanced and refreshing.
The menu changes regularly but a few favourites are likely to remain. Flavour is clearly a priority with every dish, and Scott concocts some deliciously inventive recipes. I particularly loved the Beef Fillet Tatki Salad with Onion Ponzu and Garlic Crisps, a vibrant and fresh salad with indulgent mouthfuls of meat, a wonderfully tangy dressing and a variety of exciting textures. Nasu Cengaku – Miso Grilled Aubergine with Candied walnuts was a comforting plate of succulent chunks of caramelised aubergine and Miso Grilled Black Cod Tacos were as delicious as they looked (already a winner with diners who have visited in the first week since opening).
There is only one dessert and it feels like a slight afterthought. Hot chocolate Mousse with Passion Fruit Parfait and Caramelised Pecans was a messy glass of hot and cold mousses. The sharp and sweet flavours paired well together but it wasn’t great aside from that. I feel confident that the restaurant will improve theor sweet offering as they come out of the initial opening period.
London’s Soho district is full of life and colour, and Freak Scene fits perfectly into this eccentric cacophony of cuisines and ideas. I hope foodies in the area will give this new concept a chance, as it certainly delivers on flavour and taste.
More information and book a table at Freak Scene here.