Reviews of Scott Hallsworth's Freak Scene from a selection of well-known publications
So a quick Google search and, hang on, that's Scott Hallsworth? The Aussie-born genius behind Kurobuta? What's he doing here? Google said he'd sold up and opened this. "I wondered why Kurobuta had gone to shit," said JD. "I ate there a few months back: absolute rubbish."
As my girlfriend and I walked through town in anxious silence, I kept picturing our arrival: the sexy music stopping with a scratch, the edgy punters looking at us with arch amusement, the murmuring maître d’ apologising that we were simply not — how should he put this? — freak-ay enough for such a joint, but that he could recommend Zizzi or, alternatively, ‘going home’. This is what will happen, I thought, clenching my girlfriend’s hand too tightly. This is definitely what will happen.
This is not what happened. We arrived and took our seats at the bar and ordered two beers. Freak Scene is, more or less, a bar. You sit on one side and drink, and on the other side some incredibly friendly and talented people prepare you delicious hits of imaginative pan-Asian fusion.
Not only can Scott Hallsworth, former head chef at Nobu and founder of the Kurobuta izakaya chain, stand the heat, he also cannot stay out of the kitchen – even if that means cooking on a camping stove. The Aussie with a funky Asian attitude to food might have cooked for the likes of the Beckhams, Michael Jackson and Roman Abramovich, but he started his latest restaurant Freakscene (named after the Dinosaur Jr song) as a hot and humble pop-up in Farringdon using portable gas cookers. It now has a permanent site in Soho playing his greatest hits on a robata grill and the results are outstanding feel-good (or should that be feed-good?) grazing plates that will have you coming back for more.
Aussie chef Scott Hallsworth walks through his establishment in shorts and a t-shirt, flipping meat on the grill and pouring beer for customers. It’s a far cry from his training; he was head chef at Michelin-starred Nobu Park Lane for six years before flying back to Australia to open the Nobu in Melbourne. He is a master of pan-Asian cuisine and has taken it in a new (decidedly casual) direction at Freak Scene.
This is high-quality cooking made fun; seriously fun. Octopus doughnuts, chilli crab, and avocado wonton bombs fly out of the kitchen to a thumping soundtrack. The beef fillet tataki and the homemade chips should be on your order, alongside the Thai sausage patty buns and the hot chocolate mousse. This is the kind of food that makes you happy, licking your greasy lips in satisfaction.
We're not saying every meal should start with a round (or two) of shots, but at Freak Scene you shouldn't be surprised if that's the way your night goes if chef-owner Scott Hallsworth.... gets involved. With a rocking soundtrack and Japanese game show Takeshi's Castle on loop above the open kitchen, this Frith Street spot is a riot of colour with an experimental, grazing-style menu that riffs off modern pan-Asian flavours.