Crazy Bear is perfectly positioned to appeal to the flashier, cash-rich segment of Fitzrovia’s media crowd. Smartly black-clad staff whisk you to restaurant tables, or downstairs to the dimly lit bar, with an appropriate hint of froideur. Decor, like the menu, is all about surface sheen – dig deeper and you’ll find those romantic tables for two are, in fact, highly uncomfortable, and the cooking, while pleasant enough, doesn’t justify its high prices.
Chefs are drawn from Thailand, Japan and China to produce a menu that ranges from familiar maki rolls and shrimp crackers to inventive chargrilled lamb cutlets with French beans, XO sauce, mango and mint. Impressively, the Crazy Bear Group’s own farm in Oxfordshire provides Gloucestershire Old Spot pork and Welsh Badger Face lamb.
The basement has pretty much everything you want from a cocktail bar, including dim sum and sushi from the restaurant kitchen. Its booze list is well thought out, and the cocktails are elegantly constructed and served with care. They range from traditional – try the sazerac (rye, Peychaud’s and Angostura, proper absinthe rinse for the tumbler) – to the likes of ‘after dinner’ passionfruit brûlée (cognac, honey vodka, passionfruit). On the whole, for a night out we prefer it to the restaurant.
Still, it’s best to make sure your wallet is full: Crazy Bear charges luxury-hotel prices but misses out the free luxury-hotel nibbles, and ordering two rounds of drinks with small-plate eats can make for an expensive hour.
The bar’s heavily mirrored toilets can be difficult to find, but don’t worry: male staff and customers are quite used to ladies accidentally opening the wrong door.