It is apparent that skyscrapers and good food are strangely synonymous with one another. From New York to Dubai, the places to be caught dining by the paparazzi are closer to the clouds than the concrete pavements below.
London is one of the world’s busiest and most affluent cities, a smelting pot of cultures and is bursting with culinary delights. London lacked a real dominating feature in its skyline until 2013 when the 87 story tall Shard was opened. At 310-meters high, the glass structure became one of Europe’s tallest and came complete with a viewing deck with panoramic view for a staggering 40-miles around. The designers and architects were adamant that fine dining would be a large attraction to the Shard and that’s something they delivered with no less than six restaurants in the building.
One of the most popular is situated on the 32nd floor. Oblix at the Shard became an overnight success but has not lost its charm or exclusivity. Oblix is a contemporary grill restaurant delivering modern urban food. Seafood features heavily on the menu along with a number of meat dishes. A table for two for the dinner service commands booking weeks in advanced and GTspirit went to see if Oblix was worth the wait.
A close acquaintance with a lust for culinary delights that rivalled our own joined us outside the Shangri La at the Shard, a hotel we have also experienced, to see what all the fuss was about. A lift with no buttons nor floor numbers greeted us and whisked us up to the 32nd alarmingly quickly. The lobby to which we stepped onto was extremely dark, the walls, floors and ceiling all painted black.
Having been registered on the guest-list we were escorted down around dark corridor, a small flame at the end guiding us like a lighthouse. We rounded the corner and were met by a sudden rush of daylight. Our corneas adjusted and our ears then did the same, the huge room was filled with laughter, the jazz of a live band and the clinking of glasses. The lengthy bar was buzzing, the drinks were flowing and the atmosphere jovial. As we scanned the room our attention was quickly drawn to the real selling point of Oblix, the view. We sauntered between the velvet lined sofas towards the vast panes of glass to look over so many sights that we recognised but had never seen in such a way before. Tower Bridge, the O2 and the micro-city of Canary Wharf all creeped into life. We could have stood there for hours, but were quickly reminded why we were there by an usher telling us our table was ready.
Past the live band, the bar and back into the dark tunnel that would not be out of place in a Lord Of The Rings movie. Again the light shocked our eyes, this time we were greeted by a beautiful London sunset that made the River Thames glisten as it snaked past a plethora of iconic sights of the city such as St Paul’s Cathedral, The London Eye and many more. The laughter and chuckles bounced around the room as fellow guests posed for selfies and pointed out of the windows down to the toy town below. As we entertained ourselves with the astonishing views, our first course arrived. Crab cakes are always a great measure of quality and freshness and Oblix certainly satisfied and surprised us with a side of a very unusual yet satisfying lime jelly.
Still somewhat stunned by the view we snapped back to reality by the reception of the main courses. The beef at Oblix is nothing short of sublime. Tender to the touch and cooked to perfection, the Wagyu Sirloin oozed flavour, succulent to chew and balanced fantastically by our side of pea risotto. The steak was fabulous, but the sea food is what people from far and wide flock to Oblix for. A mighty portion of Lobster followed by a whole sea bass filled our dark tinted oak table. As with the steak, the flavours are an assault on the tastebuds and it cannot be denied that Rainer Becker, the head chief, does not dare to work against the gastronomical norm with unique flavours feature throughout.
There are few scenarios that must create anticipation like waiting for desert at The Shard. As darkness ascended on the heart of London, the view from the 32nd floor evolved once again, the twinkles of the setting sun were replaced with those from harsh office building lights and toy-like cars weaving through the city’s most iconic sights. New York cheesecake and a towering chocolate fudge sundae appeared in the distance, the desserts could have been articles in the Tate Gallery that we could see in the distance. The guilt of cutting into the final courses was quickly overwritten by the sensational tastes, again, each so different from the same desserts in competing establishments.
It is difficult to not be excited by the prospect of visiting the Shard and Oblix. The views are exceptional and not much comes close to matching the atmosphere. That being said, Oblix has a lot to live up to as a result, the most memorable part of the experience must be the culinary experience. As bold as the flavours may be, we were somewhat distracted by all the other aspects of the evening. The food is different and Oblix is a restaurant that any food lover must visit, but we are not sure prices just as high the Shard’s viewing deck justify a second visit, particularly if you are not seated by a window.