Sparrow is the newest arrival on the Mayfair food scene, promising “modern coastal Italian” and creative twists on the classics. It’s part of Noble 33 Collection; a relatively new venture bringing stylish openings around the globe. There’s already a Sparrow in LA which has been causing a buzz on the food scene and now they have migrated to Mayfair. The Handbook contributor Katie Renouf went along to experience this exciting venue.
There’s something wonderful about Mayfair dining on a crisp Friday night, with stunning architecture softly backlit by the glow of glamorous boutiques and a huge array of restaurants, bars, and cafés (if they can ever really be called cafés in these parts of town).
I’ve never thought the area to be lacking anything – and certainly not Italian restaurants. However, these guys have captured my attention with teaser pictures of sumptuous interiors and mounds of glossy, tumbling pasta. This feels like something different and a lucky way to spend my evening.
We locate the restaurant on Avery Row, flanked by lanterns and a very smart doorman. We’re a little early for our table, so we sample some cocktails in the bar, which is beautiful – where art deco golds meet a palate of forest, charcoal and chocolate. The bar is busy and feels buzzy but the staff, despite it being their soft launch week, deal with the thirsty demands very well.
I start with my regular order of a spicy margarita. Nothing irritates me more than an apologetic, limply-spiced cocktail, so I am delighted to see them give it a ferocious kick of house-blended “fire water”. The end result is I’m afraid to cough in case flames come out, but it’s fantastic.
I decided to revive my tongue with their special “Apulia” martini, intriguingly described as a more savoury cocktail with flavours of caprese salad. This consists of a tomato-flavoured martini with a side shot of something resembling a boozy gazpacho, pleasingly topped with a caprese salad skewer. This drink is guaranteed to divide the crowd, but I absolutely love it.
The restaurant occupies three floors, and we are shown to our dinner table on the second floor. Here, the décor is a little brighter, with huge trees and chandeliers giving a luxurious feel to the space.
For appetisers, we go for a caprese salad and wild mushroom arancini. I expect the caprese here to deliver something a little different, and I am not disappointed. The rustically torn, creamy buffalo mozzarella is elevated by a zingy shallot marmalade and a pine nut pesto, which gives earthy sweetness. Brightly-coloured red, yellow and green tomatoes burst with succulent sweetness. Simply delicious.
The wild mushroom arancini arrives in the form of perfect, bite-sized spheres of loveliness. The seasoning is perfect, the heady perfume of the mushrooms infuses every grain of rice and the coating is crisp without being oily.
I’d also recommend the sashimi and octopus starters that the table next to us ordered and I stared at in an indiscreet manner.
For the main event, I simply could not resist the allure of the lobster linguine, which turns out to be an excellent choice. I’m not sure I’ll ever eat another pasta dish that measures up to this one. We are treated to generous, juicy chunks of lobster tail and claw, swirled through al dente linguine and a piquant, zesty tomato sauce, topped with crisp lemon-herb breadcrumbs. The depth of flavour, the sheer luxuriousness of the lobster, and warming hints of seasoning… it’s absolutely perfect in every sense. It could only possibly be improved by a side of white truffle fries, which is just as well since I ordered some of those as well.
The rest of the menu also sounds incredible, with many options that I am keen to return for, including the classic cacio e pepe and monkfish livornaise. They also have some Wagyu options if you’re really looking to push the boat out.
We agonise over the dessert options and eventually decide to share the chocolate mousse. This is another dish that has been cleverly designed to deliver a myriad of different textures and flavours. We break the chocolate shell on top to reveal chocolate mousse, ice cream and praline, combined with coffee parfait, in a deliciously light way that avoids being too rich. Despite saying I only wanted a mouthful, I soon find myself clattering my spoon around the empty bowl.
And on that divine note, it’s time to head home – but I can’t end this article without special mention to the staff. We visited during soft opening, and it was like they had been bedded in for months. Kind, knowledgeable and just the right amount of attentive – very impressed.
Highly recommended for date night or special occasion.