Last Updated on July 28, 2021
Anyone for cricket?
Describing itself as the ‘world’s first social entertainment cricket venue’, Sixes Cricket Club in Fitzrovia is one of the London outposts of a growing national group that fuses the British Gastropub concept with the fun and social cricket experience of playing on your local village cricket green.
It opened at the end of May and is backed by Andrew Strauss, former English cricket captain. The sound of leather on willow to the backdrop of church bells feels like a welcome respite and a bit of fun after the high drama recently surrounding football, so I’m really pleased to have been invited to review Sixes. I’m taking along my 19-year-old son who’s cricketing ineptitude is only matched by my own, my career highlight being a top score of six against weak opposition made for my school’s under 11 team. However, I love the idea of channelling my inner Graham Gooch and so find myself happily striding down Great Portland St with dreams of boundaries galore and Nigella bringing out the sandwiches.
Sixes provides batting nets ‘accessible for all ages and abilities’ with the bowling provided by cutting-edge Batfast technology. You can test your skills at the crease against the world’s finest bowlers with the promise of a great meal after as you relive each ball. All scores are recorded on a global leaderboard and I’m just hoping I don’t make too much of a fool of myself.
On arrival we downloaded the Sixes app, registered and then we were good to go. The nets are supplied with differently sized bats and a video screen that lists your score as well as showing the bowler doing their run-up. There are marked up targets for you to hit, scoring a 6, 4, 3 or 2, and you choose from one of four bowling levels: beginner, amateur, club or professional. Fortunately, the bowling is delivered with soft balls so there is no chance of getting injured or smashing the vicarage window. There is a tangible difference in the bowling delivery between the levels both in the speed and the flight with some fiendish spin being delivered worthy of “Deadly” Derek Underwood on a sticky wicket.
I haven’t picked up a cricket bat for a while but was able to cope with the ‘club’ level quite happily. It was a lot of fun and very straightforward. I scored 104 runs in my stay at the crease (although I was out twice!) and so on a triumphant high, I felt ready for a good lunch.
The restaurant offers all-day dining and the cricket-themed interior features red and white floor tiles and comfortable red leather banquettes and stools. There is a well-honed cocktail list as part of a comprehensive drinks offer that read very well.
We tried the light and refreshing Cloud Atlas, a take on a sour with a blend of Pink Grapefruit Ketel One vodka, Rosé, dry cherry, lemon and clouds! And if you’re a fan of Pimms (who isn’t) then the Sixes Fruit Cup (Tanqueray 10 gin, verbena, cucumber, mint and ginger ale) – it was well-balanced and not too sweet. Our favourite was the Rhubarb Spritz, mixing up Ketel One Vodka, Belzasar rose, mint, rhubarb and seasonal fruit. It was zingy, cooling and aromatic.
And then the food started coming. To be honest, I had no great expectations of the food at Sixes, but I was to be proved wrong. It turns out the kitchen is from Mac & Wild, a Scottish inspired restaurant and catering group that we’ve already reviewed and loved. We started with some deliciously spiced crispy fried cauliflower which came with sweet chilli sauce and sesame crumble. It arrived hot from the fryer and was crunchy on the outside and fluffy inside – perfect!
Classic smoked salmon was more interesting than its menu description. Served with toasted sourdough the cut of salmon was really good quality and served slightly warm. The addition of beetroot jam, charred lemon and capers added sweetness and acidity to create a very satisfying dish.
45-day aged bone-in ribeye was well-flavoured throughout, a good quality and tender piece of meat with good marbling with a substantial crust on the outside but rare as ordered on the inside. To add to the umami fest it came with an intense burnt onion jam and a melting bone marrow crumb. The accompanying triple cooked chips were the correct ratio of fluffy and crisp.
Juicy Dorset cider steamed mussels bursting with flavour came creamed with shallots, leeks and fresh herbs. Our mixed salad was fresh and had a good dressing.
Our dessert of warm cookie dough served in a skillet with milk ice cream is apparently very trendy on Instagram, but for good reason. This was comfort food of the highest order.
We had a great time at Sixes. The cricket element was straightforwardly enjoyable and would be suitable for friends, family or corporate groups. The restaurant and bar offer could happily stand on its own with no wides or golden ducks. You should try it! Eat, drink and bat at one of the Sixes London Clubhouses, with venues in Manchester and Oxford opening later this year!
170 Great Portland St, London W1W 5QB