This is a sponsored article on behalf of Circus London.
The satirist Juvenal famously wrote that the public "anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses". Sure, he was criticising the myopic concerns of his ancient Roman peers but, now that we've got a nigh-on inescapable 24/7 newscycle, we could all do with a little distraction.
And that's exactly what Circus London does best. This incredibly slick bar, restaurant, and pop-up cabaret club serves up delicious Pan-Asian food alongside dazzling, death-defying circus acts. Basically, it offers an unbeatable evening of escapism — as I discovered first-hand...
Covent Garden. A drizzly Thursday evening. My guest and I escape the impending downpour through an unassuming black entrance and emerge in sprawling, jewel-hued room complete with golden tabletops, harlequin pattern accents, tealights shimmering inside water-filled vases.
After we're ushered into a velvet-covered booth, our server brings us the cocktail menu. I choose the Yuzu Martini — a zesty little number comprised of gin, yuzushu liqueur and a dash of Lillet blanc that's as refreshing as it is potent. My guest plumps for the Highwire, another gin-based concoction featuring rhubarb and ginger liqueur and gooseberry compote. Then, as we nurse our drinks, something magical starts to happen.
The diners on the long white table in front of us move their chairs back. The lights turn low. A hoop is assembled above the table, and suddenly it has become a stage. From the shadows, an aerialist emerges. He twirls and somersaults his way across the stage before taking command of the hoop — often dangling by a single limb. At one heart-stopping moment, the aerialist uses only his neck to spin the hoop, round and round until he's just a blur.
After all that excitement, we could both use another drink, and some food. We opt for the Tasting Menu: a four-course feast comprised of small, sharing plates that comes with a glass of prosecco. To start, we've served chilli garlic crackers with plum sauce (no boring old bread here), edamame on ice and some gorgeous salmon sashimi dressed with kizami wasabi, truffle, and shallots. Then it's showtime again.
The second act is a contortionist, who twists her limbs into all sorts of mind-boggling shapes before squeezing her entire body into a transparent box that's smaller than your average oven. Afterwards, I feel a fleeting sense of shame regarding my inability to touch my own toes, but the arrival of more food soon distracts me. This time we receive baby spinach gyoza, an excellent prawn tempura and a rare beef salad, beautifully garnished with mint and coriander.
Our penultimate course — the largest of the four — is equally good, with the silky, cooked-to-perfection miso cod being the showstopper of the evening. We happily devour it alongside juicy chilli plum chicken, black angus fillet, and tenderstem broccoli with truffle tahini.
After that, we're well and truly stuffed. But there's still pudding — and a couple more acts to come.
As we await our final course, a fire-breather dances with blazing batons, before blowing great amber flames into the air. Then it's time for pudding: a rich and zingy yuzu cheesecake dripping in the strawberry compote. Finally, the first acrobat returns to the stage for one last performance.
Walking (or, rather, waddling) our way out of Circus London, we're certainly in no fit state to take on any daredevil stunts ourselves. But our bellies are full and we've been well and truly dazzled by the night's entertainment — what more could you ask of an evening out?
Circus London, Covent Garden. Click here to book a table.