A Saturday afternoon dalliance in Seven Dials delivered a delightful afternoons grazing at Flesh and Buns. A new Asian inspired basement restaurant serving sharing style Japanese food. This is the latest venture from the team behind Bone Daddies Ramen bar in Soho (headed up by Ross Shonhan, former head chef of Zuma and Nobu).
First impressions do count. As we headed down the stairs away from the crazy of Covent Garden, the starkness of the dining space was unexpected, bare bones interiors with some flimsy looking tree slithers crudely attached to 2 sidewalls. Booth seating is fixed around the edges of the eatery and round tables filling the gaps and a rather large lengthy central Island for informal dining. One end of the restaurant hosts the open kitchen and the opposing end, a minimal bar. The dining space was also fairly empty – granted we had arrived off-peak but the atmosphere and space seemed a little void, (a little bit Wagamama) but we were still excited to get to the main attraction.
The main feature on the menu is Hirata (hot Asian baked white rice buns), to be filled with options that include pork, duck, and chicken and our choice was Sea Bass. The whole menu is thoroughly appetising with a good mix of dishes to start – raw, cold or hot. There wasn’t much we didn’t want to sample.
Waiting for our order we dipped into the divine selection of cocktails, all sounding particularly complimentary to the flavours on the food menu. Our standout bevvy was the ever so delicate Peach Sour Blossom (gin, peach pulp & bitters, lemon juice, orange blossom water) @ £8.50. We can only say – you must try one for yourselves – perfect for a light refreshing summer cocktail.
To start we ordered a few small light dishes. The first to arrive was the Tuna Tataki with multi textures of lightly cured Tuna with tiny grapefruit sacks (and what we think might have been a sprinkling of puffed quinoa).
We also ordered Grilled Asparagus – cooked to perfection, along with some scrumptious Soft Shell Crab. We tried to slow ourselves as we ate, in order to savor the flavour – but it all just tasted too good. For mains we ordered from the buns sections (4 buns in a steam basket) with Sea Bass and Coriander Miso, a bowl of lettuce is also provided as an alternative to the buns, to mix up textures. The Sea Bass was Sea Bliss…plate licking very almost occurred! I do like a bun, the ‘make your own’ has great appeal, it’s interactive and gives the diner the ability to have their buns just as they desire. It all works with the casual style of the restaurant and service.
Price wise – For the quality of food and cocktails there is no issue but for the comfort and lack of ambience – we are undecided. The warehouse industrial look might be cool but somewhat lacking for day time ambience (we hope evenings bring less harsh inside lighting). That’s being said, the delights laden in front of us were enough to entertain and amuse, plus we reckon this basement will come into its own in the evening – certainly ready for the winter months where some warm soft buns will be just what peoples’ bellies will be calling for.
Entertaining: Great to to take a date, friend or small group. We think it will be a sure-fire hit for after workers, with the booths and the social central bench – we’d just like to see some serving spoons introduced – some (most) people we really don’t want to double chopstick dip with!
When ordering, your server graciously assists by advising how many dishes you might like from each section, which is great as we can see one might get carried away!
We at lunch for 2 with 1 cocktail each for £32 pp (no dessert).
Flesh & Buns/ 41 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LX/ 020 7632 9500
Hours: Mon – Tue 12:00-15.00 & 17.00-22.30/ Wed- Thurs.- Fri 12:00-15:00 & 17:00-23.30/ Sat 12:00 – 23:30 (Sun & bank hols 12:00-21:30)
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