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Circus Cocktail Bar and Performance Restaurant

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published June 1st 2011

Whoever named Circus bar/restaurant/venue was slightly off. It's far more 'cabaret' than 'circus', what with the cabaret acts who take over the long bench table in the centre of the room each night and turn it into their stage, or at least the take off point for their roof-borne acrobatics.

Of course both circuses and cabarets have fire eaters and trapeze artists, so there's some cross over there, but this restaurant also fails to have a big top type get up, or in fact any stripes at all. Instead it's quite minimalist, with pristine white walls and floor, but then this starkness offers a good contrast to the 'action'. And if you think that would make you feel a but stiff, then you might prefer the softer lounge area.

The food, for this is primarily a restaurant and bar, is American style – which is another surprise: they seem to have gone for multiple themes all at once. This is the surrealist edge they're looking for, creating something as cool, classy and edgy as they think Covent Garden is. Which is also probably why you have such a good view into the kitchen from the floor – cooking is all about the performance too.

Sorry for the distraction – Circus is like that – back to the menu, which includes a £29 steak, which is supposed to be worth it, Star Anise duck confit and grilled tilapia. For starters they do crispy fried squid that many reviewers have mentioned, chicken satay skewers and poached lobster. They also do jalapeño onion rings on the side and a pre-theatre menu that's worth considering.

The drinks menu reveals that they're a cocktail-lovin' crowd, who like to do their traditional staples with a twist. I recommend the Creole Blazer: Havana barrel proof and Creole Shrubb, flamed and poured over hibiscus syrup and ginger beer = exotic.

What Circus is good for is an all night venue. You can come here for dinner and watch the free entertainment, then stay on and drink more, and find yourself gradually grooving into the performance space as you get you own dancing moves going as well. This is a pretty popular place at the moment, so book ahead and expect to see a lot of people who're out for an occasion and have 'taken themselves up west'.
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Why? For an eclectic good time
When: Open Tue-Wed 6pm-12am; Thu-Sat 6pm-2am; also open Sun
Where: 27-29 Endell Street City of London, Greater London WC2H 9BA, nearest station Covent Garden
Cost: Pricey, but this is Covent Garden
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