Imagine a skyscraper with an indoor garden, three eateries and arguably the best views in London. If you like the sound of this, you will love the new Sky Garden! Read on for my first look at this new London landmark.
We arrived at the Walkie Talkie as it’s knicknamed, although I’m not sure it looks much like one. We were lucky to get tickets for a few days after the opening, thanks to my husband’s eagle eye. A workman actually had to prise the doors open for us! Inside, we were greeted by smiling and very smartly dressed staff. After showing your ticket, you’ll pass through airport style security. We were strangely asked if we were carrying a candle! From here we took an express lift up to the 35th floor and entered the atrium.
You arrive at cafe level and this area has been beautifully done. There are fake fur throws, lanterns, comfy cushions and an outdoor terrace which was closed on our visit as it was so windy. It didn’t stop us drinking in the sight of The Shard though.
The garden itself is a work in progress and more flowers will gradually appear, although some Bird of Paradise flowers are already flourishing. Designed by award-winning landscape architecture practice Gillespies, the plants have been chosen to work with the quality of light under the roof canopy and to resist drought.
There are three eateries in the Sky Garden: the Sky Pod Bar, shown below, Darwin Brasserie and the Seafood Bar and Grill. All are run by Rhubarb, a London caterer providing the food and drink at The Royal Albert Hall and The Gallery Mess cafe at The Saatchi Gallery, so they have good form! The Sky Pod Bar serves up casual snacks and afternoon tea.
We hadn’t booked anywhere but managed to get a walk in at Darwin Brasserie. Attention to detail is impressive, I loved the lighting and the pared-down decor.
We were given a great table with a panoramic view. The only change I would make is to stick an “F” for Female and “M” for Male on the toilet doors. At the moment they are unisex cubicles but there are so many that it would be easy to make the left hand side female and the right hand side male.
The food was really impressive, exactly the sort of hearty comfort food that you dream of in cold weather but so rarely find in London. We shared a sticky shallot tarte tatin to start. Topped with goat’s cheese, this was utter perfection. My main was a venison pie with golden puff pastry, buttered kale and mustard fruits. I hadn’t tried these before but they reminded me of a chutney and worked really well with the dish. My husband went for Goodwood Estate pork belly with crackling, Puy lentils, heritage carrot and apple puree. I usually find pork belly fatty but this was easily the best I have ever tried.
As for the chocolate pave dessert, I’m already dreaming of my next portion! Served with banana and toffee ice cream, it was beautifully decorated with edible gold leaf.
After our meal, we ventured onto the terrace of the Fenchurch Seafood Bar and Grill – it looked very cosy inside.
At the time of writing, the Sky Garden is fully booked for the next few months for free visits. If booking into one of the restaurants you won’t have to wait so long. As you would expect, you aren’t allowed to take your own food in, apart from baby food and milk. Don’t forget to take a camera, it is a photographer’s dream and the light is constantly changing. The Sky Garden is also available for hire, I can imagine it being a hot ticket for events!
Opening hours: 10 am-6 pm, Monday to Friday. 10 am-10 pm – weekends.
Transport: By tube – Monument is the closest. Tower Hill, Tower Gate, Aldgate and Bank are less than 10 minutes walk. By train – London Fenchurch Street, Cannon Street, and London Bridge.
Do you agree that this is the best view in London? Which do you think is the best in London or your city?
Sky Garden, 20 Fenchurch Street London EC3M 3BY