It was The Better Half's (TBH) birthday on Sunday and I wanted to take him somewhere special. What could be more special than 31 floors up, with a view spanning 360 degrees across the London skyline? Aqua Shard is one of three restaurants located in the tallest building in Europe, serving modern British food.
Zooming up to the 32nd floor, the lift opens up into quite a plain lobby area but once we descended the staircase to the 31st floor we found ourselves in a very sleek and sexy restaurant. We were intentionally early so that we could have a drink in the bar to appreciate the stunning views. A special occasion calls for bubbles, so we ordered a bottle of Veuve Clicquot (£65.00). Usually drinks are marked up so much in a restaurant and I thought that although marked up, it was still pretty reasonable. We were taken through to the dining room and seated at a window seat overlooking Tower Bridge. It was absolutely breathtaking!
To start I chose the hand cut Rose beef with spicy mayonnaise, Bloody Mary jelly & Scotch egg (£13.50). I was expecting a steak tartare kinda dish and I have to say that I was quite disappointed with it. It was lacking in seasoning, the spicy mayonnaise wasn't spicy and the Scotch egg was over cooked. Not the best start for me. Onwards and upwards hopefully.
TBH ordered the Seared foie gras, tomato and strawberry marmalade, chocolate canelé and bordelaise sauce (£14.00) He enjoyed this dish and the chocolate canelé worked a lot better than he expected it to. The few mouthfuls that I tasted were pretty scrummy too.
I ordered the Roast Halibut, Portobello mushroom, sweet potato gnocchi, trompette mushroom and white balsamic sauce (£27.00), although the waiter then came back to tell me that they had run out of halibut and the fish was now cod. I like cod, so it really wasn't a big deal for me. The fish was cooked perfectly, but the sweet potato gnocchi was so over cooked that they would've made great rubber bullets! The trompette mushroom added a lovely woody flavour to the delicate fish, but I don't recall tasting the portobello mushroom. It was a real hit and miss sort of dish for me. I guess the main element (the fish) was really well done, but the overall impression was that the dish was just okay.
For his main, TBH had the Organic beef fillet, fig & gingerbread tart, bergamot crumble and red wine jus (£32.00) and a separate side order of mash potato, whey butter and beef jus (£4.75). The beef was tender and well cooked, the mash potato was decadent and the beef jus really rich. He had picked another great dish.
We weren't going to have dessert, but when TBH saw David's mess - Guava sorbet, fresh raspberry and vanilla Chantilly (£7.50) on the menu, he just had to order it because of the name. David being his name and him being quite messy! It was presented beautifully in a martini glass and the guava sorbet was encased in a meringue bomb. Lovely looking and lovely tasting. He was also presented with a 'Happy Birthday' plate of sweets, which was a nice touch.
As usual I chose cheese as my dessert and went for the British artisanal cheese selection (£11.50) which contained a stinking bishop, goats cheese, blue cheese and cheddar. I enjoyed every bit, although TBH complained ever so slightly about the pongy stinking bishop! Not called that for nothing, clearly!
Service was a little haphazard. We didn't have a dedicated waiter, so we weren't able to build a proper rapport with any one of the staff that served us. For me, the experience was extremely mixed. Perhaps if I had picked the dishes that TBH ordered, I would've enjoyed it a bit more. Our over-riding impression is that if the food is as amazing as the view, then they would be onto something truly special.
|Men's urinals - Pretty impressive, huh?|
Things have been quiet on the blog lately, but there are some great meals planned over the coming month. Stay tuned...
Until we eat again!
Level 3, The Shard
St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY