20 Fenchurch Street London EC3M 3BY skygarden.london/fenchurch
Nick likes his time up in the sky at Fenchurch.
You know that scene in Men In Black the one where Agent K takes Agent J down the elevator in the MiB HQ for the first time, the doors slide open and a massive space teeming with people and aliens is revealed?
Well with slightly fewer aliens that’s what hits you when the elevator opens to Sky Garden in the’Walkie Talkie’.
I’ve tried most of the high-rise restaurants in London, but for the view alone this one has to be my favourite so far. Some people apparently don’t like the fact that the giant windows are crisscrossed by girders, but I love the way this effectively divides up London into small frames, allowing the eye to concentrate and explore one scene before moving onto another.
On this double height level is the bar and it’s busy, busy, busy. At this time of day only people eating or drinking are allowed up past the strict airport security downstairs, and so there are more suits and spiked heels and fewer cagoules and trainers.
Walk up the verdant slopes on either side, admire the views some more and yes, take that silly selfie because who wouldn’t? And then a little higher in the sky is Fenchurch restaurant, a space within a space and rather elegant with it. We sit and grin at each other; you don’t get this feeling or this view eating at a roadside truck after all.
So, having established this is not a restaurant likely to find favour with hipsters or scenesters any time soon, we turn to the food. The menu is short, not terse in the lamb/aubergine/carrot style of brevity but not overburdened with choice. I like this as I have a tendency to umm and errr and do handbrake turns on my choices and generally try the patience of all around.
P wants’Warm smoked eel with avocado duck ham & horseradish’ because she always likes eel and it is one of those rare things that we’ve never cooked at home and probably never will.
Unfortunately it seems at first like we may not get to it eat here either, the food takes a very long time to come out, passing that waymark when you first notice that it’s a bit late and then getting into’where’s our bloody food?’ grumble-land.
It arrives just in time; you’re not you when you’re hungry as Jeremy demonstrated so effectively. Luckily the food’s good, with my rabbit Ã¢â‚¬Å“BologneseÃ¢â‚¬Â wild garlic, Berkswell and sourdough pointilistically made up of lots of tiny colourful pieces, making it seem that could you get far enough to away to look at it a picture would emerge, perhaps of a rabbit? The interplay of textures from the crunch of the bread to the soft give of the meat is underscored by a slightly sharp and vinegary tang coming from the cheese.
P’s eel she’s more than happy with, eel is a fish that particularly embraces being smoked and needs little more adding to it to make it work, although the gently fiery horseradish is welcome as is the creamy avocado.
Staying with fish P has the whole Dover sole served on the bone with brown shrimps and samphire. It’s good to see a restaurant serving fish this way, although the waiter did offer to take it off if she wanted but she waved him away.’It’s so much better on the bone,’ she said using her fork to slide the perfect fish flesh off its rack.
She liked the simplicity of the cooking that relied on the quality of the fish and found the sweet little apostrophes of brown shrimp a twell considered flavour contrast. The samphire with its crunch and breath of sea salt was all the extra she needed.
So it was a bit of a surprise when she tucked into my new potatoes with peas, but they were excellent being nicely in season right now. I myself was pushing some belly pork around my plate in vague disappointment. It didn’t have quite the flavour or texture I’d anticipated, not actually bad just not’right’. The caramelised cauliflower though was quite delicious and made better with the crunch of lightly toasted nuts sprinkled over. The’jus’ I found a bit crude, like a BBQ sauce in feel and taste.
As the sun went down splendidly we did dessert; yoghurt panna cotta granola, marmalade & coffee and strawberry doughnuts buttermilk, lime ice cream & honeycomb. Both were vastly colourful ad the sort of mix that I enjoy, being not really a dessert person whe its just a few things on the plate..
Heading back to the lifts the feeling of the room was now like being on the bridge of a supersized intergalactic spacecruiser heading to make a landing in London. We liked our time up in the stars; the food is generally above average and fair for the price and the experience uplifting.