Monday, 15 December 2014

Fine Dining in the Walkie Talkie

On Thursday Gemma called me with the offer of a meal at one of the new restaurants in the Sky Garden of 20 Fenchurch Street (aka the Walkie Talkie of death ray beam fame last summer).

It's not open to the public until January, but as a trial run to test menus and train staff, they've opened up to members of staff working in the building.  As Gem's boyfriend Colin works there, I was the lucky recipient of an invitation.  Even luckier was Marc who happened to be checking his whatsapp when I sent a message round to my housemates asking who wanted to take the last spot.   He snapped at the chance because he 'likes new buildings and being up high'.

i love a mirrored ceiling

The entrance is on the south side of the building, and you are whisked up in a lift to the 35th floor. On arrival, you are checked in and sent into the main atrium, otherwise known as The Sky Pod - a huge space encased in glass, with a light up bar in the centre where you can have snacks and drinks. There's a few tables and a terrace which sadly wasn't open when we were there, overlooking the Thames.  Dress up warm as this bit is really quite chilly - I expect it'll be very warm in the summer.

On the perimeter there's a marble staircase which leads up to the two restaurants, the Darwin Brasserie on level 36 (not to be confused with brassiere, which I have been saying my entire life - Marc pointed this out loudly on the bus) and the Fenchurch Seafood Bar and Grill on level 37.

The bar in the Sky Pod

We were booked into the Darwin Brasserie, so after getting snap happy we headed up the stairs to the restaurant.  As you walk up, to one side you have panoramic views across London and the other side you have thousands of plants - apparently they represent evolution as the plants at the bottom are relatively new and as you climb the stairs, the plant species are older and older.

view from the top terrace - Tower 42, the Cheesegrater and the Gherkin

The restaurant itself is lovely - again encased in a giant glass box so you can appreciate the views, the muted decor is comforting and stylish.  The menu was reasonably priced - starters around £10, mains between £10-30, and puddings all at £7.50 each.

I chose the Caesar salad which I wasn't overly impressed with - it had too much mayonnaise, a bit of toast with anchovy spread which was much too salty, some kind of pork crackling type business, and the bacon was wafer thin and melted in your mouth.  Some may have enjoyed it but  I would have preferred a 'standard' Caesar!  Gemma had clam linguini which she said was delicious, and the two boys both had steak which they were very complimentary of.  The steak was around £26 and came with both sauce and chips, which I thought was very good value considering your surroundings.  I would highly recommend a trip as the views are amazing, the service was excellent and the food wasn't bad (if you avoid the salad).

good steak

appalling photo of my salad, sorry!

happy diners

I am hoping to go back during the day, so that I can get some good photos of the views as they wwere stunning.  We could see the fairground rides in Winter Wonderland, Wembley Stadium, the Olympic Park and Canary Wharf to name just a few.

The Sky Garden opens to the public on 5th January.  You can reserve a table by emailing or calling 0333 772 0020 . 

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