Trendy dining reaches new heights (pun intended) on the 32nd floor of the Shard where the food is good, the view is amazing and the prices right.
Despite the grueling process of trying to get a dinner reservation at a time that wasn’t 6 or 10pm even weeks in advance, I did manage to snag a table for 7pm after incessant phone harassment broke down a rather begrudging hostess.
But alas, the more intense the hype, the more intense the scrutiny.
Those lucky enough to get a window seat have the whole of London at their disposal. We were seated in a booth nowhere near the windows but this didn’t have quite as damning of an effect as I anticipated.
The menu is extensive. The latest endeavor from restauranteur Rainer Becker, who started Zuma in Knightsbridge and Roka in Charlotte Street, has pulled together a different menu here — European, Mediterranean, some Asian fusion meets New York Grill & Steakhouse kind of thing. This is one of those rare times where you will be sat in a trendy upscale restaurant but will actually understand what everything is on the menu. Good stuff.
Excellent crab cakes, once again nothing too different or daring, but accompanied by a lemon herb jelly for dipping and a bed of mint leaves. Very unusual treatment to a standard starter. The Guardian’s review lamented the size of the crabcakes likening each to the size of washing powder tablets. I’d have to disagree; the size of the crabcakes were quite generous and significantly bigger than the size of my own Fairy dish tablets if I recall correctly. Perhaps Marina O’Loughlin uses some sort of customized dishwashing tablets the rest of us are not privy to resulting in the misconceptualization of the size of restaurant crabcake starters.
A huge chunk of crisp iceberg lettuce drizzled with pieces of crumbled Stilton and crisp salty pancetta, garnished with chopped herbs (£9)
For the main course there were tiger prawns with rosemary and olive oil (£21), which arrived looking much larger than tiger prawns and in a hollowed out lobster shell. Sides are essential here as this dish is nowhere near filling enough for a main on its own.
To be fair, the prices were quite reasonable for what the restaurant could have charged. Given that you would have 25 quid to go to the top of the Shard anyway, you can subtract that cost from your bill. You also get to enjoy the view for a lot longer if you’re having a leisurely meal (and let’s face it you would be since you probably waited months to get the booking in the first place). The prices for all the dishes are quite comparable to what you would pay for a standard high end restaurant (on the ground) so I felt the cost of the meal was fair.
The whole experience was quite pleasant until the meal ended and we were walking out the restaurant back through the kitchen display (which is quite cool), when I tried to take a picture of the view. One of the self-righteous bouncer people instructed me that I could not stand there and not only told me to leave but ushered me out personally to make sure I did in fact leave. I expressed that I just paid a lot of money for a meal and would simply like to take a photo. He informed me I could take a photo outside the restaurant on the other side of the building. However, when I tried to do this another bouncer informed me that I could not take a photo here as that would disturb the people dining below at Aqua, one of the other restaurants, or the lounge, whatever it was. Right.
I did manage to get one cheeky little photo in there (serves them right) but the mafia’s behaviour was pretty unwarranted. Once again, customer service just escapes this country completely..