Editor Sophie Ritchie takes a trip to London’s ‘Garden of Eating’ for a night of fine dining above the city at Fenchurch Restaurant
There are times when you require a meal just to satisfy a simple hunger pang, and then, there are times that call for an entire experience. Fenchurch is a restaurant for one of those occasions, designed to impress with its sky high postcode.
Located atop the Walkie Talkie building in Sky Garden, I pay a visit to try its high-end (and high up) dining for myself.
When we first arrive, there’s a slight airport-esque feel at reception – this is due to the check-in system at the front desk, followed by a quick security check. One quick ‘swoosh’ up in one of two large elevators later, and the metal doors slide open to our 37th floor destination – the sleek, impressively vast surroundings of Sky Garden.
Offering some of the most sublime views of London, Sky Garden is the city’s highest public garden, with panoramic eyefuls across the capital. As well as its leafy indoor foliage, the venue features a quartet of cool dining options – Darwin Brasserie, City Garden Bar, Sky Pod Bar and the sleek Fenchurch Restaurant, which is where I find myself climbing the steps towards, appetite and friend in tow.
If you’re looking to make a good first impression, Fenchurch is certainly the place to do it. Housed within a clever glass box (meaning it reduces the outside noise from wandering visitors but retains the dramatic vista) inside awaits a suave space filled with luxe interiors and of course, superb views of the glittering city skyline.
It’s small enough to feel intimate but large enough to avoid any claustrophobia. As more guests start to arrive, the space soon comes to life with diners making the most of the Friday night escapism – swilling glasses and either staring at each other or the dramatic skyline.
Almost everything about Fenchurch is modern, including its menu. Adapting to the new COVID-19 landscape, these are presented as different QR scannable codes.
Easy to use for anyone but the Aumish, scan the codes with a phone to see the selections of drinks, a la carte dishes and desserts. Safer and more sustainable, it’s a small touch that I instantly love (even if I have to take my reading glasses out).
With new Head Chef Michael Carr at the helm (you might recognise him from Great British Menu 2019) the array promises seasonal ingredients, innovative flavour combinations and beautiful presentation.
To start, I order the Heirloom tomato carpaccio, smoked aubergine, toasted seeds & herb dressing (£14). Light and luscious, it arrives as a gorgeous stack of bright tomato and aubergine, topped off with creamy burrata and edible flowers.
This is accompanied by a pool of green-hued dressing, poured over the plate by our server to add a touch of theatrics. Surprisingly filling, the array of colours and fresh flavours juxtapose perfectly with the stunning outside views (and the restaurant’s homemade bread).
After a short wait, it’s onto mains – I opt for the Sweet potato gnocchi, Wiltshire truffle, preserved lemon, capers, Pecorino foam (£24.50). Anything with truffle gets my vote – and this earthy dish comes covered with it, featuring a small mound of shavings atop the decadent silky-smooth gnocchi.
Waving goodbye to the waistline as I waft the autumnal flavours towards me, it’s long gone before I know it – washed down with a pretty Bloomsbury cocktail (£13.50). After all, calorie counting should be left firmly back at security – this is a restaurant designed for indulgence and the menu absolutely reflects this.
An equally permissive dessert list features the likes of tiramisu, rum baba and creme caramel – but as usual, my eyes are bigger than my stomach. I settle for a coffee instead to round off the occasion, but my friend dives spoon-first into the Balsamic crème caramel – which soon disappears faster than you say 10pm curfew. Post-dinner, we wander idly around Sky Garden’s botanical surrounds before making a move back to the ground floor, where reality awaits with a bump.
The Wordrobe Verdict
Keep your head in the clouds with Fenchurch’s haute cuisine. The dishes are gorgeous and the staff serve them with finesse. Stylish and sumptuous, book a bite of escapism and prepare to be whisked off your feet.
Words by Sophie Ritchie, editor.