Across the Pond: A New Sushi-and-Cocktail Concept From Clever Koi Team

Clever Koi's Joshua James in action
Clever Koi's Joshua James in action
Melissa Fossum
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Joshua James and Nicholas Campisano of Clever Koi and soon-to-open Fellow Osteria are bringing another concept to Phoenix this fall. Across the Pond will be an Asian-style craft cocktail bar.

The cocktail bar is currently under construction and will seat 35 in an intimate, minimalist dining space. The team will serve omakase sushi and lower ABV cocktails than their flagship. They will also offer a list of imported Japanese whiskeys served highball style.

Across the Pond will be situated across the sidewalk from the original Clever Koi on Central Avenue, in the space where Central Wine closed earlier this year.

“I wanted to branch out into just a cocktail bar and we had tried for years to try to find a space within our neighborhood,” says Joshua James, founder of Clever Koi and the restaurant group Born & Raised. “We just couldn't make a deal happen and we couldn't get a property that we really wanted."

"The last deal we were really close on and it fell through at the last minute, and then this kind of popped up and it worked out perfectly for everybody," he adds.

Where Clever Koi is more flavor-forward, James and Campisano intend to use Across the Pond, a lower-volume operation, to be more nuanced and complex.

Patrons, though, will still be able to find some of their Clever Koi favorites on the menu, like steamed buns and dumplings. They'll also find sushi and weekend specials.

The team at Across the Pond plans to bring in fresh fish daily from Chula Seafood and serve traditional Japanese sushi omakase style (chef’s choice). They will keep it simple and traditional with nigiri, sashimi, and maki, using just a few kinds of fish and top-quality ingredients.

Expect drink pairings.

James and Campisano are going cocktail-first with this endeavor. It will be an opportunity for them to explore complex libations that aren't possible at Clever Koi.

Across the Pond will feature a rotating menu of 10 custom cocktails. Expect creative flavors with more emphasis on sake and sherry, and notably less on rum and gin. They’ll also copy  their extensive Japanese whiskey options from Clever Koi – only here whiskey will be served highball-style with artisan ice.

“We’ll be using Collins Spheres, which are crystal clear, beautiful pieces of ice," James says. "Traditionally a whiskey served in the high ball with the ice and then, table-side, a soda is poured down a long bar spoon and into the glass. It's something that we really wanted to do at Clever Koi, but it's really hard to do something that intense and time consuming at a high-volume restaurant.”

Across the Pond is expected to open early this fall. It looks to be an exciting addition to the Valley’s craft cocktail scene.

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