This week I thought I would present you with a selection of restaurants worth visiting for their views. Either the views around the restaurant itself in the case of The Magazine, the Zaha Hadid designed restaurant at the Serpentine’s Sackler Gallery, or for the views out of their windows, looking at Hutong and Galvin at Windows. So, here we go with restaurants that are a feast for the eyes as well.
The Magazine (pictured above) is a white, undulating, marquee-esque addition to the Serpentine’s Sackler Gallery. With a stretched membrane roof and vast panels of glass the building is an impressive organic extension to the old 1805 gunpowder store that now houses the Sackler gallery. Inside the restaurant the tables are arranged around the vast pillars that seem to flow down from the curves of the ceiling.
The tables themselves are modular and can be arranged together to make tables suitable for much bigger groups. Everything here, right down to the crockery I am told – something that is usually left to the discretion of the chef – has been stipulated by Hadid.
The food, however, has avoided the Hadid treatment and is looked after by young German chef, Oliver Lange. Lange’s passion for Japanese food is evident on the menu, which offers his own take on sushi – Ollysan’s Sushi. This really is quite something – whether it might irritate hardcore sushi lovers, I don’t know and to be honest I don’t really care. Every element was beautiful from the lobster roll with lobster bisque and coral on top to the very surprising quail’s egg with truffle and cucumber maki style number.
Moving away from sushi a few things still need a bit of tweaking but the pork cheek with Jerusalem artichoke and crackling is also very much worth trying and if you leave without trying the black pudding bread you have been very foolish indeed. It is glorious (as long as you’re not a vegetarian).
On the 33rd floor of the Shard, the view here is wonderful – great swathes of London open out in front of you as you sit at your table (preferably by the window) and peruse the menu.
Hutong (pictured below) has recently introduced a lunchtime dim sum menu starting from around £5 per dish, which we went in to try. Clearly, this mounts up quickly as you need a fair amount of dim-sum to fill even a little tummy. Sadly, the dim-sum was rather bland – perfectly good textures and wonderfully light pastry on the wagyu beef puffs – but just a distinct lack of oompf. Perhaps it would have been better with the dipping sauce but that sadly never made it to our table.
In the spirit of thoroughness we tried a main from the menu, hoping it would prove us wrong and be flavoursome and mind-bogglingly good. No. The deboned lamb was meltingly soft with a golden layer of crispy fat on top but once again its flavour was simply underwhelming. You will certainly find cheaper and better Chinese food in London but what you are paying for here is the view and the associated bragging rights.
Galvin at Windows
Another spot with a cracking view is Galvin at Windows (pictured below). Unlike Hutong, however, the food is also worth the lift ride. Perched at the top of the London Hilton, Park Lane, and overlooking the Park, Buckingham Palace and, further in the distance, Wembley and the City, the views here are also wonderful.
We overheard a fair few people asking for window seats on arrival only to find these tables had been booked – so if you do go, book and request one. Even on a dreary, misty night the twinkling lights of the buildings below make the view inviting – and at this time of year, ever so festive (yes, it is still too early to talk Christmas).
With Jon Woo, head chef, behind the stove you are looking at a very high level of food, Michelin starred in fact, and an even higher level of service. The staff here are some of the best I have encountered in a while and on the night I was in they were dealing ever so graciously with a highly obnoxious table, so I take my hat off to them.
To start I had the Jerusalem artichoke velouté, sautéed mushrooms, potato cream & truffle, which was a beautifully earthy concoction, rich with creamy and delicately perfumed with beautiful truffle. As it is in season, I plumped for truffle with the main too and tried the fillet of Cumbrian beef ‘Rossini’, foie gras & truffle. Deep, rich, ruby red meat and just pan-fried foie served simply with a mash that was essentially 90 per cent butter and cream and a little spinach.
Simple, delicious and perfectly cooked. Everything here is rich, but it isn’t heavy, just luxurious, and matched with that view and the wonderful service it is a good spot for watching the world go by.