If you’re on the right side of the room, there’s no view finer than that from Fenchurch. It’s the highest – and most expensive – restaurant at Sky Garden, the three-storey high oasis at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street (better known as the walkie-talkie building).
Only problem is, the other side of Fenchurch looks out onto a roof terrace. No sparkling Thames, no illuminated St Paul’s Cathedral – just concrete. So make sure you ask for a table ‘on the view side’, and ideally one that’s away from the private dining room, rammed as it sometimes is with rowdy business-types.
Wherever you’re sat, a meal here is a luxurious experience. Staff are experts; our crumpled napkins were twice replaced with ninja-like stealth, and at night the room transforms into a glamorous, flatteringly-lit space designed to make everyone feel like a million dollars. We were here for the tasting menu, and began in style with a well-made old fashioned and a signature gin and St Germain cocktail. The latter was a little too sweet, but the giant spherical ice cube it came with was transfixing.
It’s the first time Fenchurch has offered a tasting menu: six courses of beautifully presented dishes paired with wine for £109 per person (£70 without wine). The vegetarian tasting menu is far more reasonable at £50 and enough of a potential bargain to persuade one of us to try it. Two dishes were memorable – a rich Jerusalem artichoke and ricotta agnolotti; and brilliantly fresh pea soup with chewy sourdough croutons and poached egg yolk. The others (such as a burrata salad with peach and fennel) were good, but too simple for this kind of dining, and the baked potato mash that we were so excited about was unfortunately floury and leaden.
Luckily, the carnivorous menu was far more successful. Chopped mackerel with pickled cockles and oyster cream tasted straight from the sea – such a clean finish. Then to the land, and buttery rich rabbit bolognaise with harissa was just the thing for our 2013 Burgundy, brought over by a bounding sommelier, who was one of the most enthusiastic we’ve ever encountered. Cornish turbot and Goodwood Estate lamb weren’t as wonderful, though the quality of produce was evident. Our evening ended on double pudding: fragrant coconut cream paired with Canadian ice wine (rich, golden sultana nectar); and a light, smooth chocolate bar with glazed peanut.
If we could design our own Fenchurch tasting menu, it would be double portions of chopped mackerel; double portions of rabbit bolognaise; and double again of glazed peanut chocolate bar. Then it would be worth the price. As it stands, it’s still an incredible experience, but best saved for a special occasion.