Published on April 15th, 2015 | by Sophia Longhi1
Darwin @ Sky Garden
Move over Shard, there’s a new view in town. Around about now, you might just be able to get a booking for the hotly anticipated Sky Garden, 20 Fenchurch Street’s garden in the sky – ‘London’s highest public garden’. But far better to team your view with some cocktails and some dinner in one of their highrise restaurants – either the rather fine-looking Fenchurch Seafood Bar and Grill or the more informal, but nevertheless enticing, Darwin Brasserie.
There’s certainly an air of excitement upon entering 20 Fenchurch Street, or the Walkie-Talkie, as it is colloquially known. It’s something to do with the glossy, sterilised sheen of the white lobby and the airport-style security system. It does feel like we’re about to go up into the air – up into space, in fact, like we’re embarking on some kind of interstellar journey.
Up 35 floors to the Skypod, and we’re not quite among the stars but the views are pretty breathtaking, still. You can see everything – it provides an impressive, uninterrupted 360 degree view of the whole city. Forget about waiting for a free viewing booking to come up – it’s such a wonderful experience to coo over the views of the Shard and Tower Bridge with a cocktail in hand or even a glass of the bubbly stuff. A champagne sunset – why not?
After we have admired the views from all angles and frolicked in the foliage, we ascend to the Darwin Brasserie for dinner. It has a lovely, quietly bustling atmosphere with clean interior design. Every table has a window view, apart from the large tables in the centre, but with walls entirely made of glass, you can see out from anywhere.
We start with a couple of cocktails: the Millionaire and the Charles Chaplin. Both make good use of sloe gin and apricot brandy, but the Millionaire gets its kick from the Elements 8 Platino rum, which makes it a warming, slightly tropical drink – a nice, sweet start to the meal. The Charles Chaplin is fresh and tart and is presented elegantly in a martini glass with a lemon twist.
The oysters are a lovely way to start dinner; six expertly shucked British rocks, served with half a dressed lemon and sharp shallot vinegar. We also have the beautifully presented prawn cocktail, which is rather indulgent for a light starter, with its sliced quail eggs, fat prawns and thick, creamy Marie Rose sauce. Not that we’re complaining – it is lovely.
The mains are mostly an Anglo-French selection of meat and fish dishes and, although we hear the fish and chips are great, a peek at the menu tells us it has to be a red meat day. The Cornish Lamb Rump, with bubble and squeak, Provençal veg and roasting jus sounds too good to miss, and the thought of the Braised Ox Cheeks with creamed potato and root vegetables makes my mouth water. The meat is really good in both cases – the lamb pink and tender, full of flavour, and the Ox cheeks literally melt in my mouth like butter. I am also a huge fan of the luxurious creamed potato.
A meal can’t be finished without dessert, and so we have the lemon tart and the homely crumble with custard. The lemon tart, with its burnt sugar veil, is like a tart and a creme brûlée in one – my two favourite things. The crumble is oozing with fruit but has more than enough crumble atop to make it a success.
And a success is what the experience is. It could have easily been just a view with a mediocre menu, but it’s not. Darwin at the Sky Garden is a more than a pleasant place to enjoy a meal – good food and excellent, smiling service. And after, what better way to work off dinner than with a walk around the garden in the sky.
Darwin @ Sky Garden, 20 Fenchurch St, EC3M 3BYShare This Post