The Aqua Shard opened less than a year ago, on 1 July 2013, and has already established itself as one of London’s finest restaurants. It’s owned by David Yeo and the Aqua Group (Yeo’s second restaurant in the Shard), with the head chef being Anthony Garlando, who worked with Pierre Gagnaire (of Sketch fame). If you want to dine and have an amazing view of London, the Aqua Shard is the place to go! The food is excellent and the cocktails are amazing.
Lunch at The Aqua Shard
The Aqua Shard has one of the finest views of London, and is an excellent restaurant as well. You can see HMS Belfast, the London Eye, St Paul's and much, much more.
Lunch at the Shard
Anyone who has visited London at any time in the past few years can’t fail to have seen the Shard; it’s visible from almost everywhere in London. It was opened to the public on 1 February 2013. A group of friends and I go out to lunch once a quarter, and try to visit somewhere we’ve never been to before, and places that we wouldn’t routinely visit.
So far, there are three restaurants at The Shard. The one that we visited was the Aqua Shard. I’d read mixed reviews, so was a trifle apprehensive about the visit – I don’t mind paying a lot but I expect a lot in return!
If you visit the website of the Aqua Shard, you will see peacock feathers in the background: this is the theme of the decor in the restaurant. The upholstery is the same pale blue bearing the eye of the feathers. As restaurants go, it is stunning.
The Aqua Shard is on the 31st floor – you take the lift to the 32nd and walk down to reach the bar and restaurant. It describes itself as serving “innovative, contemporary British cuisine,” and is part of the Hong Kong Aqua group. The chef is Anthony Garlando.
As you exit the lift lobby, to walk down the staircase, the first thing that you notice is the view. It is absolutely breathtaking, even on an overcast day, as it was on my visit. The first thing I did was get my camera out so that I could try to capture the sights of London.
We were greeted at the bottom of the stairs by reception staff who took our coats. It was very crowded at the bar (you don’t need to book to drink there) so we collected the two early arrivals and went straight to our table. There were eight of us, so were seated at a circular table near to the window and the smaller bar.
From where we were sitting, we could see the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament to our left and St Paul’s to our right. We were also conveniently seated for the lavatories, but they were discreetly hidden behind the bar. See the photograph – they were spotlessly clean and rather grand!
Six of my group had cocktails to start, which they all agreed were divine. They certainly looked unique and interesting, with pistachio nuts and fruit dressings, but as I almost never drink spirits, I didn’t try them.
We ordered three bottles of wine: a Merlot for the red wine drinkers, a rose and I had the Pinot Grigio. I was pleasantly surprised. It was soft Pinot, and was only £32 a bottle, which for the location and type of restaurant was pretty reasonable.
The Market Set Lunch menu prices are cheaper, but there is less choice. I ordered from the A La Carte Menu and started with the Confit Loch Duart Salmon with Dorset Crab, avocado, pepper puree, courgette and Oscietta caviar. It was all absolutely delicious, and the salmon was a proper sized portion, far more than I would have expected for a starter. My fellow diners had a variety of starters – one had the same as me, two had the Foie Gras and smoked duck terrine (and both agreed it was excellent), the others order the Tartar from Land and Sea from the Market Lunch Menu. One of my friends thought it was woefully under-seasoned, and was happy when she had added salted but the others enjoyed it as it was.
For the main courses, we all ordered from the A La Carte Menu. I chose the Steamed Monkfish flavoured with Vadouvan Spice. It was served with Razor clams, nori, Champagne and vanilla sauce, and I had gratinated cauliflower as a side order. (Vadouvan Spices are a mixture of Indian spices with a French influence. They are reputed to help you lose weight!) It was a good combination; the spices didn’t overpower the fish at all. Others had spiced pork cheek, venison, pearl barley risotto with beetroot and grilled sea bass. Everyone enjoyed their main course.
Deserts were a great hit too. I had the Artisanal cheese selection; others had the egg custard tart and chocolate bourbon biscuit. Two of them shared the Aqua Shard Fairground for Two... Toffee apples, marshmallow, candy floss, toffee popcorn (I did try that, it was lovely) and chocolate milkshake. It looked good, and they really enjoyed it.
We all finished with coffee and liqueurs. My only criticism is that service was a bit slow, but not so much as to make me complain about it.
The total bill was £824, so £103 per head, including service - I thought that was reasonable for what we had and where we were.
Aqua Shard, Level 31, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London SE1 9RY. 020 3011 1256. http://www.aquashard.co.uk
Nearest station: London Bridge, which is mainline, Northern and Jubilee lines.
The Aqua Shard is open for Breakfast from 07:00 to 10:30 Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 10:00 Saturday and Sunday.
Brunch: 11:00 to 3:30 Saturday and Sunday.
Lunch: 12:00 to 2:45 Monday to Friday.
Afternoon Tea: 3:00 to 5:00 Monday to Friday (they have gorgeous little cakes in the shape of the Shard!)
Dinner: 6:00 to 11:00 Monday to Sunday
The bar is open from 12 noon until late seven days a week.