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October 23, 2015updated 11 Feb 2016 10:54am

Tracey Emin and tropical fish: behind the scenes of Sexy Fish’s launch

By Spear's

Sexy Fish has arrived on Berkeley Square: a kaleidoscope of dappled green Iranian onyx; raspberry leather upholstery; a shoal of floating Frank Gehry fish lamps; a giant sprawling Gehry crocodile; Damien Hirst bronze cast mermaids rendered in blue patina and a 15ft bronze relief panel; hand-cut collage artwork for the linen ceiling panels by Michael Roberts; and two of the largest live coral tanks in the world.

The restaurant and private room were opened on 19 October by the Caprice restaurant group. The menu takes its inspiration from the seas of Asia, with a focus on Japan, and the bar, which houses the largest Japanese whisky selection in Europe, is serving up Asian-inspired cocktails like Bruce Tea, Miso Thirsty and It Wasabi Tricky.

Paul Murashe is the restaurant director of Mayfair’s newest restaurant, Sexy Fish, and he’s written his diary of the run-up to Sexy Fish’s opening exclusively for Spear’s.

Friday, 28 September

Final piece of artwork goes in – the 15ft bronze relief panel by Damien Hirst (joins Gehry, Roberts & other Hirsts).

Friday, 2 October

High excitement today because the doormen arrived in the business. I mean, they ARRIVED. Ihab, Peter, Saif and Dayo. And then they put on their ‘Prohibition chic’ uniforms – grey polo necks, black trousers, camel coats and caps. There was a tangible puffing up of feathers among the staff.


Paul Murashe with Sexy Fish’s doormen

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We went out into the street and it felt like we were on the runway at the Chanel show – everyone was stopping to take photos in Berkeley Square. These boys are the window to the Sexy Fish world – glamorous, with a twinkle in their eye.

Tuesday, 6 October

Second day of soft openings. Pretty smooth, but we had disco lights (the lighting engineer’s working on that). At least the water wall behind the bar is working and it looks fantastic with a red neon shining through it. The vibe has arrived!

At 11pm, the night-long photo shoot for the ‘hero’ shots of the restaurant started… There was a little grappling between the PRs and the furniture removers (preparing for the party) – it was literally press releases at dawn. Needless to say, our PRs won the day – loveable Rottweilers that they are.

Thursday, 8 October

Gearing up to the party tonight… stage builders, costumiers, stylists, audio-visual people, chefs, front of house staff, technicians, engineers, florists, sommeliers… they’re all here. It’s like Piccadilly Circus. It all kicks off at 7.30pm.

Friday, 9 October

Somewhere around the early hours… properly tired now, but Rita Ora was amazing.

Still Friday, 9 October

De-rig of the party. Then, a meeting with the lovely Assia Webster about a high-profile press event for our private room, The Coral Reef Room. A night off before the madness begins again…

Saturday, 10 October

Third day of softs.


A Frank Gehry crocodile keeps watch

Sunday, 11 October

The calm before the storm of a full week of service. A quiet evening watching Downton with Dante, my Boston Terrier (kidding).

Monday, 12 October

We’re prolonging softs into this week – it’s important for the team to have a little more time to get to know the menu perfectly (and each other), as well as practise their skills on our friends and family. They’re looking good and we’re getting plenty of great feedback.

They’re now starting to fill the fish tanks in the Coral Reef Room – the coral itself has had a little time to bed down. Dazzlingly colourful fish are darting about, and my personal favourites, a couple of bright red prawns with long stick-like white legs, are already looking very much at home. Sebastian, the fish-expert, is my new found friend – I could listen to him for hours if I had them to spare – his knowledge of fish, tanks and coral is second to none.

One of the things I love most about the tanks is that you can change the setting to a specific longitude and latitude in, say, the south Pacific, to allow the coral to grow more quickly – it’s seriously clever.

Wednesday, 14 October

Stephen and Assia Webster in the private room this afternoon with Tracey Emin launching a line of jewellery to the press… so a steady stream of seriously glamorous women were strutting through the restaurant – turning heads in their wake. The bar was buzzing with people and there was a general frisson of excitement in the room. I can barely contain my excitement for opening night.

Friday, 16 October

We had our first DJ night tonight… Vanessa arrived on the decks at 9pm and the room started pumping. Some people got up from their tables to dance… everyone was chatting and laughing, some still eating… there was such a great energy in the room… not to mention a few A-listers.

Saturday, 17 October

Some last-minute tweaks before opening on Monday. The original crustacea bar was so tall that not only did the chefs have to climb to the top of a stepladder to fill it each day, but also you could have hidden a posse of chefs in there and no-one would ever have found them.

Anyway, we got rid of it with much huffing and puffing… and now, we have an altogether more demure version, made out of the same Iranian Esmerelda onyx that adorns the floors. Much better.

Monday, 19 October

Opening night. What a night. No more from me – you have to come and see what the fuss is about.

Sexy Fish
Berkeley Square House
Berkeley Square
London W1J 6BR
020 3764 2000

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