When it comes to humans and their relationship with food, there’s an extensive scale. Some would happily take a pill if it contained all the right nutrients; others, those who are far greedier and gluttonous by nature, think two meals in advance. It’s the latter, the indulgent gourmand, that also believes that a great gastronomic experience is more than just the sum of the ingredients on the plate; a sense of occasion and a view that’s as sumptuous as the Cheval Blanc and cacio e pepe on the table are also crucial to a successful meal.
In London, there are plenty of great vistas on offer. However, with them come plenty of sub-par restaurants that satisfy the snap-happy Instagram crowd but irk the hungry, for it’s commonplace that chefs believe that the eyes can be distracted while the palate won’t notice. However, luckily for you, the famished reader, we’ve rounded up the finest places in the capital that have struck the perfect balance between cooking delicious dishes and stunning guests with sublime sights. Here’s what we gathered:
Duck & Waffle
Step inside a Willy Wonka-esque elevator, get sling shot up to the 40th floor of the Heron Tower and walk with a weak-kneed gait through a maze-like entrance to find the vibrant Duck & Waffle, London’s highest restaurant.
Open 24/7, this iconic and cult-like eatery has been pleasing famished diners for nearly six years, and to date has cooked over half million servings of its eponymous dish – however, beyond the signature meal, this is a place that offers artery-taunting, gastronomic treats that are as fun as the environment in which they are served. The bacon wrapped dates are a sweet-savoury delight that prep the taste buds in the best way possible; the raw yellowfin tuna, with its pickled watermelon, mustard, olive and basil topping, will clean the palate; and the ‘nduja seared octopus will pique anyone’s interest.
Food aside, the views served up here are probably the best in the capital. Reserve your booking over the phone and ask to take a pew in the far corner; here you’ll feast on vistas of London Bridge, the Thames, Canary Wharf and the Gherkin.
Duck & Waffle
Set on the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth floors of the Heron Tower, this Brazilian-Japanese dazzler may not boast the best view in the building (that honour is bestowed upon its upstairs neighbour, D&W), but it certainly has the best and most glamorous interior, thanks to its lattice-like roof, art-deco inspired chevron floor and the ceiling which is so high you could fly a kite underneath it.
On the menu, expect everything from wagyu gyoza to robata-grilled seafood, and in terms of the scenery, get there for 7pm in the summer in order to catch the slow transition from London’s sunny haze to its dotted skylit cityscape.
Perched atop the visually repulsive Walkie Talkie sits the aesthetically remarkable Sky Garden and, with it, the Darwin – an all-day, moderately-priced brasserie. Indeed, the dishes on the menu won’t be the most avant-garde you’ll ever have (that doesn’t mean that they’re neither refined nor technically accomplished, however – the scorched cornish mackerel, for instance, is cooked to nautical perfection, and its salty quality riffs beautifully against the comice pear), but that’s not the point, because you come here for the experience and the view.
A table parallel to the gargantuan front panel is the one you want as it’s here where you’ll peruse the flora of the Sky Garden below you, as well as the near dystopian vision of the river, Tower Bridge and The Shard. Once you’ve finished your digestif, don’t forget to head to the garden itself and explore the sprawling oasis.
Tower 42 is a pretty nondescript building in the Square Mile, but pessimists should remember that age-old belief that real beauty lies within. And here, chef restaurateur Jason Atherton has achieved just that, as his slick, high-end City Social is the culinary spark that injects gastronomic splendour inside the tower’s below-ordinary facade.
Dimly lit at night and furnished with a dark chocolate interior, it’s everything you’d expect from an affluent-style restaurant, and, although it may be a bit pricier than other joints with majestic panoramas, one should pay any bill to dine here. Why? Besides the fact that the Gherkin is within eyeshot, the cuisine – a modern British fare with Mediterranean and Asian influences – is refined, perfectly balanced and provides a flavourful depth that really satisfies.
To start, opt for the orkney scallops with cep fregola, smoked pancetta and lardo di Colonnarta (a beautiful, soul-soothing and moreish dish); then move onto the potato gnocchi with fried hen’s egg and confit chicken leg (rich and decadent); opt for the tender venison as your main (the accompanying red cabbage and fig give a piquant and earthy quality); and finish the feasting with the signature hazelnut plaisir sucré. With worldly dishes and equally impressive views, City Social possesses the necessary components that are needed in order to be a London go-to.
A certified meat mecca, Barbecoa (an establishment co-produced by Jamie Oliver and American barbecue king Adam Perry Land) is dedicated to long, slow cooking and the beautiful process of smoking, and so, unsurprisingly, sizzles up some beautiful slabs of beef. Beyond the bovine heft, this all-day brasserie gives diners what is perhaps the most imposing view in London – a near eye-to-eye stare-down with Christopher Wren’s magnum opus, St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Hutong is a high-rolling, glitzy restaurant that was set up as an outpost of the Hong Kong original, and although the prices of its Sichuan and northern-Chinese cuisine are as steep as the building that the restaurant is in (The Shard), it’s the price you pay for visiting somewhere with urinals built into floor-to-ceiling glass. Lavatories aside, the space is all intricate lattice work and carved doors, old Beijing decor and red lanterns; it’s often more of a film set than an intimate restaurant, more theatrics than cosy eating. And it’s for these reasons why you should take a 33-floor-high odyssey up to this Oriental delight.
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