Marie Claire samples sky-high dining at its best in the heart of the City.
When you visit one of London’s glamorous skyscraper restaurants, you prepare yourself to be wowed by the views and underwhelmed by the menu. But Searcy’s on the 39th floor of the Gherkin is different. Towering above London at 180m tall, the building is one of the city’s most well known landmarks with breathtaking panoramic views over the river. And yet, its clearly the great food and excellent service here that keeps Searcy’s packed out night after night.
With a crowd-pleasing but refined classic European menu designed by executive chef Barry Tonks’, there is a range of delicious dishes including stone bass and squid ink risotto, pumpkin ravioli, and seared tuna with pineapple and pickled mooli.
Arrive a good half hour earlier than your booking to enjoy a glass of champagne or Vodka martini in the impressive sky bar. Its tricky to picture a better setting for a birthday dinner or celebration. Impressive floor to ceiling windows allow one of the most impressive views of London, The cocktails are expertly mixed and punchy while the vibe is relaxed and informal.
Moving to the restaurant we were delighted with the selection of dishes on offer. My guest is a committed carnivore, while I’m more of a fish and seafood fan. The menu was diverse with a range of light sharing dishes with plenty on offer for vegetarians, and also some great substantial and generously portioned meat and fish dishes. The seared tuna starter with sesame, ginger and pineapple was fresh, excellently cooked, and a perfect balance of flavours. The Fois gras with quince was described as ‘like being in France – to die for’. I was delighted to find three main course dishes that I’d have been equally happy to order but opted for the deliciously light flaky Halibut with Gnocchi, cauliflower and curry mussel sauce, which was flawless. My guest went for the Venison loin with butternut, red cabbage and sprout leaves, which he claimed was pleasantly earthy and incredibly tender. Portions were generous without being overwhelming and accompanied by beautifully cooked and presented seasonal veg and Pomme Duphine.
Of course we said we couldn’t manage desert but then changed our minds when our persuasive waiter suggested otherwise. We went for the delicately flavoured apple tart tartin with a creamy home-made tasting vanilla ice-cream to share… followed by the excellent cheese selection (erm..yes, we found space).
Overall I couldn’t recommend this place highly enough for a special occasion. The view is worth a visit alone, but the food is flawless too, and that’s without even getting on to the service, which is the real stand out thing here. Everyone member of staff was exceptional from the hostess, to the bar tenders to our unflappably smooth, polite and smiley waiter, to the sommelier (who deserves a special mention for his absolutely perfect pairing of a range of diverse wines from France, Austria and Argentina to each of our courses).
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The restaurant, like its fabulous sister venue in St Pancras, (which serves a delightful array of seafood sharing platters, mezzo and champagne by the Eurostar concourse) manages to exceed expectations. And in a crowded London restaurant scene increasingly populated by sky high dining venues, this is a great thing.