A few years ago, London’s restaurant scene learned that, sometimes, good menus weren’t enough to attract discerning diners. So, what did they do? They elevated (ahem) their experiences to the starry heights of London’s highest towers, from the 72-storey Shard to the landmark OXO Tower, creating eateries encouraging diners to book for the view but stay for the food. But how to sort the tourist traps from the truly delicious dishes? Here are London’s highest restaurants to book now, you know, for when streetside terraces simply won’t cut it.
Aqua Shard, London Bridge
The tallest building in London, measuring a whopping 309.6 metres high, The Shard is in fact home to three different restaurants but it’s Aqua’s triple-height atrium that wins us over every time. Perfect for both an afternoon tea or an a la carte evening dinner, Aqua Shard sits on the 31st floor of the building and features wraparound floor-to-ceiling windows to wow guests with birds-eye views across the capital. Menu highlights include Orkney scallop ceviche, venison loin in braised haunch and parsnip and line-caught sea bass and Cornish crab with fingerling potato and seaweed butter.
Level 31, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY, visit aquashard.co.uk
Galvin at Windows, Mayfair
Helmed by Marc Hardiman and opened by the renowned Galvin Brothers in 2006, Galvin at Windows is situated on the 28th floor of the five-star London Hilton on Park Lane. Boasting an enviable panorama across leafy Hyde Park, the modern British cuisine more than lives up to the views, featuring dishes of Label Rouge guinea fowl with slow-cooked egg, Scottish Highlands venison Wellington, and tornados of beef Rossini with truffles. End a meal to remember with classic apple tarte tatin and After Eight Valrhona chocolate, with a side of views over Buckingham Palace and the London Eye.
22 Park Lane, W1K 1BE, visit hilton.com
Darwin Brasserie at the Sky Garden, Monument
One of the two restaurants and two bars found at Sky Garden – sitting atop the 160m-tall Walkie-Talkie building – Darwin Brasserie occupies a mezzanine floor set back from the skyscraper’s enormous exhibition windows overlooking the Thames below. Encased in its own glass box, the all-day kitchen serves breakfast classics, including truffle eggs royale and buttermilk pancakes, as well as three-course fare in the evening, such as chestnut pâté, ox cheek bourguignon and 21-day aged Scottish ribeye.
1 Sky Garden Walk, EC3M 8AF, visit skygarden.london
Bōkan, Canary Wharf
Spanning the 37th to 39th floors of Novotel London in Canary Wharf, Bōkan’s three floors comprise a two AA Rosette-winning restaurant with menus inspired by rich European cuisines, a main bar boasting floor-to-ceiling windows and, for when the sun is shining, a rooftop terrace. Helmed by executive chef Robert Manea, expect dishes of Atlantic mackerel in chilli jalapeno sauce, blue lobster with spiky artichokes and seasonal tomato, and lamb cutlets in black garlic purée alongside one of the best vegan menus in the capital.
Upstairs at the bar, discover an innovative cocktail menu that pays homage to the history of Canary Wharf, with tipples inspired by the West India Docks, East India Docks, the Millwall Dock and Gwilt’s Warehouse, alongside unique sharing vessels taking their cues from the Blackwell Levels. We’d recommend the Head in the Clouds, featuring Portofino gin, Aperol, Italicus and lime – delicious.
40 Marsh Wall, E14 9TP, visit bokanlondon.co.uk
OXO Tower Restaurant, Southbank
With arguably the best views across the Thames towards St Paul’s, there’s little not to love about this all-day dining spot in one of the capital’s most famous landmarks, which is owned and run by Harvey Nichols. Executive chef Jeremy Bloor is in the kitchen cooking up fine dining European classics, including Scottish langoustine ravioli, monkfish with carrot miso,and pearl barley in autumn fruits and damson ketchup. For a more casual affair, head to the Brasserie for a variety of plant-based dishes, such as spice-grilled celeriac in sesame dressing and roasted smoked cauliflower with beetroot hummus and hispi cabbage.
Barge House Street, SE1 9PH, visit oxotowerrestaurant.com
Duck and Waffle, Liverpool Street
Elevating fast food to new heights, Duck and Waffle is situated on the 40th floor of the 230m-tall 110 Bishopsgate, one of London’s tallest buildings, offering customers the opportunity to dine while actually looking down on the Gherkin. The restaurant’s namesake dish of crispy confit duck leg topped with a fried duck egg and served on a waffle is a highlight, as well as brunch favourites including shakshuka, homemade baked beans and duck egg en cocotte. Those with a sweet tooth shouldn’t miss the Full Elvis: peanut butter, jam, caramelised banana, Chantilly and all the trimmings.
110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY, visit duckandwaffle.com
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