Astronauts aside, it’s most likely that 35, 000 ft is the highest many have ever dined… albeit with a side dish of turbulence and an entree of personal-space-invading stranger. Yes, it’s irrefutable that those miserable packaged meals, whilst dire in their existence, provide a literal adherence to the idea of ‘high dining’, at least in its most crude sense, that is. Although it is far more probable, and arguable, too, that as a majority we have a stronger proclivity for ‘high dining’ in a figurative sense, by which I mean haute dining. But, should you find yourself yearning to dine at abnormally high altitudes – with extra leg room as standard – our great capital city seems to be expanding its skyline,so you can expand your waistline.
The latest edition to London’s impressive portfolio of vertigo-inducing property, with its incredible height, spectacular views and of course mouthwatering edible offering is the unavoidable, Shard. With its looming and ominous posture it does look something more akin to a sci-fi villain’s lair than home to some rather delectable restaurants, alas, it proudly sits a stone’s throw from Tower Bridge and gladly partakes in the latest gastronomical trend for haute cuisine in haute places…
Rainer Becker’s Oblix occupies the 32nd floor of London’s latest architectural triumph and echoes New York’s cosmopolitan vibes in both its decor and menu; a notable step away from the Japanese cuisine and custom offered at iconic sister restaurants Roka and Zuma. New York-style grills provide the comestible inspiration, which manifests itself in a selection of hearty main dishes of rich meats – duck with mango chutney, harissa-seasoned lamb chops and veal garnished with gremolata – although one found the accompanying flavours to be of lesser relevance in the context of the proposed N.Y.C. inspiration.
The entry way – dim lit and teaming with pretty twenty-somethings guiding patrons to tables – meets a sudden contrast as you veer this way and that through the maze of prep counters and into the spacious west-facing restaurant, naturally lit of course by the evening’s sunset (if you’re lucky) or menacing storm front (if you’re not). The unrelenting glass facade makes the sheer height of the restaurant’s location impossible to forget but does make for an exceedingly impressive backdrop to the bustling Zuma-esque atmosphere.
Once the necessary amateur photography subsides and smart phones are replaced with menus, an intense eye of scrutiny is cast upon the food as most silently ponder whether their culinary experience will match the geographical spectacle…
The aforementioned array of meat and game met companionship with various cuts of beef, shellfish and white fish in the mains department with a perfectly acceptable selection of vegetables and side dishes also on hand (many of which my vegetarian dining partner was compelled to order due to a complete lack of meat-free mains). Taking the usual risk of allowing the staff to make my order, I gratefully received a delicate yellow tail starter dressed with a citrus soy and gently toasted coriander seeds, which was a beautiful introduction to a sumptuous main of lamb chops – the highlight of the meal by far. A dessert of strawberry and rhubarb pavlova was decidedly uninspired and not to the standard I had excitedly anticipated, although a passionfruit sorbet, whose accompaniments evade remembrance, was a welcome way to end my partner’s culinary adventure.
With a quick peek into the east-facing bar (and a slightly brattish feeling of dismay as I realised it had an even better view!) we departed feeling certainly contented and impressed with the evening and its ambience, agreeing that we could not fault the service (our particular waiter was confident in his recommendations, attentive and knowledgeable).
Oblix, Level 32, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London, SE1 9RY
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7268 6700