After reading reviews for the new Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street, aka The Walkie Talkie building, I was led to believe I’d be visiting a high-in-the-sky airport terminal – bland and clinical. This turned out to be far from the truth. Perhaps they failed to spot the mighty reveal of The Shard as the elevator doors opened or the spectacular 360-degree view of London town. The only resemblance of an airport terminal was the tight security on the ground floor and the immense floor to ceiling windows. Oh, and I spotted a couple of planes flying over the London skyline.
Sky Garden is an impressive open space with three restaurants on floors 35, 36 and 37. Situated bang in the middle of the Heron Tower and The Shard, London is revealed as you circulate the garden and it looks fantastic. Two separate gardens are laid out on each side, displaying a range of fine horticulture that I wish I was knowledgeable enough to name. The plants are grown on steep angles and range from prehistoric forms to modern variations, adding an other-worldly Jurassic element to the experience. My father, my date for the night, is a connoisseur of seafood, which is why I plucked for the Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill (the other options being the Darwin Brasserie and Sky Pod Bar, the latter being a cocktail bar with a smaller bar menu.) On the 37th floor, the Fenchurch is also the highest restaurant and is sat in the middle of the Gardens. One negative: unless you’re lucky enough to get a window table, don’t expect to see much of the London vista. We visited less than a week after its opening and the staff were fresh and eager to make a good impression. The open seafood kitchen in the restaurant displays all sorts of tasty looking shellfish – lobster, oysters and cockles – and the chef talked me through their provenance in intriguing detail.
Okay, enough of an introduction, now to the food. To start I had fresh truffle and artichoke soup – absolutely divine; beautifully delicate and creamy with a melt in your mouth texture. For me truffle is the diamond of the kitchen.
The waiter picked out a complimenting New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc which boasted explosive tropical flavours. It matched perfectly with my next course, plateau de Fruits de Mer, which I shared with my father. £65 for this dish may seen expensive, but, brimming with generous portions of shellfish including lobster, crab, oysters, prawns and cockles, this was a fair price. My side option, truffle macaroni, was great. While Mac n cheese is straightforward to get right and not hard to find, bang in a bit of truffle and you’ve got yourself a serious winner.
We were so full of seafood, that one dessert between two was enough. A melted centre chocolate brownie with caramelised banana, ice cream and chocolate nibs was heavy but delish. At this point the Operations Manager of Sky Garden came and sat next to us and welcomed our feedback. He introduced us to the private dining room, very proudly demonstrating the switchable glass walls, which flicked from transparent to opaque at the press of a button. I can only imagine the uses that the local city banker crowd would get out of this.