Mayfair’s newest Italian restaurant, Sparrow, leans as much toward America as it does Italy. Read on for the full review.
Coming to London by way of LA is a smooth new Italian restaurant named Sparrow. It’s already causing gasps among the followers of London’s food scene for extravagant £215 wagyu steaks and starters that cruise at heights of nearly £150.
Save the chatter, though. Among the high-flying prices are dishes of modern Italian cooking that are worth a serious bit of attention.
The brand’s head chef AJ McCloud is making a name for himself as a champion of bold flavours and excellent wines, and word is their cocktail menu is similarly exciting.
We went down to check it out.
Sparrow – The Full Review
You’ll see the menu laid out in the traditional Italian fashion – broken into courses of meat and pasta, salad and starters, a crudo course for good measure.
You don’t need to order something from every section. We went in adamant not to let that wagyu get the better of us and kept our level heads with a mere three courses.
It would be tempting to say the star of the show was the crudo of Ahi tuna tartar, but doing so wouldn’t be fair on the grilled octopus. The former, sauced with a truffle ponzu poured by the waitress in a subtle bit of theatrics, was pretty close to sublime.
It’s just that its rival, that aforementioned octopus, was at its chunkiest point – still so tender as to have us actually quizzing each other on how they might have pulled it off. Guesses even ranged as far into the occult as them having poached the intern from Jiro Dreams of Sushi to massage the thing to death.
The food hits a peculiar line between traditional, as in the case of our chicken milanese, and modern, like our dish of bone marrow from the pasta course that came out as tortellini stuffed with braised beef cheek.
The only real disappointment at Sparrow were the sides to our main. A polenta that didn’t have much to it, and Baked Spaghetti Squash that was also a bit lacklustre.
Though, all of this was made up for by a beautifully-put-together tiramisu.
Our eyes ran straight to an Amaretto Sour. Full of body and perfectly sweetened, the sour was so good we nearly passed on trying any of the other cocktails and stuck lovingly with it, but journalistic integrity dictated we try something else… It’s a hard life.
That next choice was a Sardinia which, we’ll admit, wasn’t too far a departure from our original drink, but packed more of a lemony sharpness and a piece of cocktail theatre you can expect to see on the social media of anyone that’s still got a few quid in their pocket this winter. A bubble of smoked bergamot that sits gently on top of cocktail for a second before popping beautifully under its own pressure.
The first thing you’ll notice when you walk into the dining room at Sparrow is the U-shaped bar that dominates the centre of the room.
That’s partly because it’s slick, black marble and well dressed staff can’t help draw your eye, and also because the dining spaces that line the room’s walls are so softly lit you’ll barely notice the table next to you.
Also soft is the seating – a long bench of plush emerald velvet and sets of arm chairs that you sort of sink into when you sit down, and that don’t make a noise on the, yes, soft, carpet as you pull them back for your date.
And that’s probably who you’ll want to come here with. The mood entirely suits it. For all of the above reasons, this is a great spot for a bit of sophisticated romancing.
There’s a DJ most nights – Sparrow does hail from LA after all – and they kick up a bit of a vibe without being intrusive.
With 200 quid wagyu steaks on the menu and cocktails comfortable with a £20 price tag, a meal at Sparrow will likely be your big night of the week (or month). But it’s fair to say that you won’t be disappointed at giving that special position over to Sparrow.
The food and drinks with their bold flavours and little touches of theatre will cause some actual wowing around the table and be similarly exciting to eat. There are a couple of very minor missteps but not with anything expensive enough to have you raging.
Sparrow: Practical Information
Address: 1-3 Avery Row London, England W1K 4AJ1
Sparrow, Mayfair: The Full Review
Sparrow is Italian at its core, and there are some dishes that wouldn’t be out of place in a local trattoria. But it has another side – an American one, with bits of showmanship and amplified flavours. We think this marriage is a fine one.
- Sparrow, Mayfair