London is a city that is packed with history, it oozes charm, character and charisma, but is constantly changing to suit the needs of its ever increasing population. A skyline once sparsely punctuated by the likes of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London Bridge, Big Ben and the TATE Modern are being drowned out by the glass and steel structures that now tower above them. Amongst the most famous are two architectural feats that house restaurants which many dream of visiting: an Instagram post or a Facebook check-in alone have social circles buzzing.
The Shard claimed fame in 2013 and clinched the title of the Europe’s tallest tower, it also housed a handful of impressive restaurants. Looking across, on the more prestigious North Bank of The River Thames, is a building that may not be able to match the pointy Shard for its level of vertigo, yet, its design alone is something to be admired. Its bulbous head and inverted bends mean that 20 Fenchurch Street quickly became known as the ‘Walkie-Talkie’. However, after its grand opening in 2014, it featured in news stories across the globe thanks to its unique and iconic glass shape reflected strong sun rays down upon the street below, managing to melt a Jaguar. The Walkie-Talkie became the ‘Walkie-Scorchie’.
After grabbing headlines for the wrong reasons, 20 Fenchurch Street had some community service to do. Soon after Sky Garden was launched, the top floors of the £200 million building were opened for public viewing. The scenes were stunning and since there was no cost to visit, the gardens caused quite a stir with its large open spaces and a collection of tropical trees and plants to fill the gaps.
That was not all. Two floors above, on the 37th floor, opened a restaurant: The Fenchurch Seafood Bar and Grill. GTspirit were kindly invited along to see what all the fuss was about and if the views were the only attraction worth visiting the Walkie-Talkie for.
Entering the building is something of a surprise- it’s not just the case of sauntering into the lobby with an impeccably dressed acquaintance for company and casually going up to the 37th floor. We were startled when we were met by an airport-style bag scanner and made to walk through a metal detector. Thereon, after squeezing into the lift we ascended to the 35th floor. From the somewhat claustrophobic confines of the crammed lift, we were ejected onto a huge open viewing deck. The tremendously high domed glass ceiling may look strange from the outside of the building, but inside it added a whole other dimension of space. We were instantly drawn to the windows by our curiosity where it was simply enchanting to see the city twinkle beneath us at night.
Stomachs began to rumble and it was time to navigate our way through the surreal collection of trees and foliage and up a couple of flights of stairs into what can be described as a cabin under the tremendous glass ceiling of the building. Having been warmly welcomed we were shown to our seats, what appeared to be the best in the establishment, next to a glass pane of what felt like a huge fish tank. We could not help but feel slightly disenchanted sitting a fair distance away from the exterior windows that would have allowed us to look down upon the city in all its greatness, however, the fabulous cosy and warm atmosphere made us feel comfortable as we were treated to drinks.
The menu clearly plays to what is said to be the restaurant’s strongest facet: seafood. That being said, there was a comprehensive selection of vegetarian and meat dishes on offer. We opted for the classic Macaroni & Cheese and Slow-Cooked Hen’s Egg for starters. Both dishes were delicious and showcased the clear talent from the chefs behind the preparation.
As the main course arrived, not only our tastebuds but even our eyes were excited. We had selected Peterhead Cod and Corn-fed chicken. The titles of the dishes in the menu read like a shopping list, but the reality was that we were left scratching our heads trying to think of either a poultry or a cod dish that had eaten before that could match those presented to us. The food was exceptional, the quality of ingredients was evident to both the tongue and the eye, the flavors were sublime and the portion sizes just right.
Having been blown away by the main course, we welcomed the dessert menu. Once again, the titles of the offerings were understated and we ordered a Bramley Apple and Blackberry Crumble along with a Glazed Peanut and Chocolate Bar. As with the mains, the presentation was a feast for the eyes. Delicately cutting into the dishes we sampled the flavors and tastes and were, again, left astonished. The balance in textures and sweetness is something we will crave to taste again for weeks to come: the perfect way to end one of the most sensational meals we have experienced in London.
If you are serious about seafood and enjoy the exclusivity of London’s skyscrapers, there are very few places that match the refinement and quality of The Fenchurch Seafood Bar and Grill with a drinks menu to match. The food certainly is not cheap, but for the most special occasions the menu and experience as a whole will not disappoint. The viewing deck may be a little chilly, but the food, as is the service, is outstanding. Bravo!