Aptly, given the way it pierces the skyline, The Shard is giving London Bridge’s culinary scene a shot in the arm
If you think of the gastronomic centres of London, London Bridge probably doesn’t figure. And – up until a few years ago – that was with good reason: it has only newly become chic, young, popular, and restaurants like Zucca (one of the best Italians in town) reflect this resurgent prowess. Borough Market has taken a turn for the touristy.
Aptly, given the way it pierces the skyline, The Shard is giving London Bridge’s culinary scene a shot in the arm. This works in a larger sense – drawing tourists, stuffing the area with businessmen in need of a good lunch – but also in a very particular way.
Sellar, the developer behind The Shard, has helped to convert an unpromising office building by the concrete loop of the London Bridge bus station. In this building, above All Bar One – way above it, in fact – is the Rooftop Cafe, a new restaurant which deserves to be widely known.
I went after it had just opened, when the hand-strung chairs – metal frames with red or yellow cords as back and seat – were tense and comfortable. The decor, by young Spaniard Doctor Cato, manages to make warm and modern an unpromising room, albeit one with a stunning view and the most brilliant light.
Pictured above: The Rooftop Cafe in London Bridge, next to The Shard
The revelation came right at the start of the meal: tobacco-baked celeriac with chestnut puree and celery shoots. The celeriac was tender and almost addictive, with a slight give in its yellow flesh, salty and mellow and deep. The celery shoots gave brightness, freshness and a little acerbity, but the star – a root which has smoked four packets of Marlboros for a decade – was clear.
The braised beef brisket with carrots and swede puree was almost absurdly generous in its portion, and it could, consequently, have done with more jus. Dessert was lemon posset with rosemary cream, which was sharp, sweet and savoury all at once, with that gorgeous tongue-depressor quality savoury creams offer.
Under the hand of the vastly-talented (and vastly-tattooed) chef, Magnus Reid, late of conceptual-food pioneers the Rebel Dining Society, the Rooftop Cafe stands a very good chance of becoming a new hotspot. (It does breakfast and lunch too.)
And the kicker? These three courses were £25. Go before they work out how much they should *really* be charging.