“Aqua shard is a lively, cosmopolitan restaurant serving innovative contemporary British cuisine.” Aqua Shard
A meal with a view in London is not unusual, I’ve been very fortunate to enjoy a few in my time at the likes of Sky Garden, Oxo Tower and Duck & Waffle to name a few but that didn’t stop me having Aqua Shard on my constantly growing ‘to do’ list. After visiting The Shard a couple of summers ago we popped into Aqua Shard for a sunset cocktail and I vowed to return at some point to relish in the full dining experience.
Meeting up with a friend who previously resided in Abu Dhabi (her departure from the UAE prompted me to start this blog) seemed the perfect celebration for lunch at level 31 of The Shard. Aqua Shard’s menu and panoramic view are British through and through, a stunning vista that includes the iconic Tower of London, Tower Bridge and The Thames couldn’t be deemed anymore London if it tried. The food is fresh and local (some is sourced from nearby Borough Market), beautifully presented and not the typical small portions you associate with fine dining, the prices are slightly elevated like the location but not excessive especially with the set menus.
Two options are available for lunch that’s served daily Monday to Friday from noon to 2:45pm, the changeable set Market Lunch (two courses £32, three course £36) and the regular A La Carte selection. Our very patient waitress allowed me to choose a starter from the a la carte and a dessert from the set menu and only charged me per item, I was impressed by the consummate service which is not always so accommodating at high end venues. While I enjoyed my Secrett’s Farm parsnip soup topped with shredded parsnip, my dining companion tucked into a sizable plate of melt-in-the-mouth of flat iron steak with whipped parsnip root and seared onions from the set menu.
We both chose the sticky toffee pudding with warm caramel and chocolate foam for dessert, a delicious and rich calorific treat that had us scraping every last morsel off our plates. We enjoyed a very pleasant Argentinian Malbec to accompany our meal from the extensive wine list that offers guests an abundance of choice from the more affordable to the finest vintage wines, champagnes and cocktails. If you are one who likes to enjoy the finer things in life you could certainly splash some cash here on your bar bill alone.
Floor-to-ceiling glass affords guests the best views and the perfect backdrop for social media shots. The restaurant is plush as you would expect, divided into two areas, the gin wing and the tea wing, with a centralised staircase that you descend to enter the venue. The triple-height atrium bar is a lively place in the evenings serving gin and tea inspired classic mixology. In a nod to this area of the South Bank’s bygone era as the centre of gin distillery there’s a wide selection of British gins that will keep you entertained and prolong your visit. Guests can choose from large banquettes in the gin wing that’s decorated in a palette of deep greens and purples or dine at regular tables in the dark wooded tea wing that also has eye-catching glass private dining rooms. All the aspects of the restaurant from its design, colour palette, artwork, food and beverage menus and of course the view reflect London’s heritage and the Shard’s location.
Judging by the busy midweek lunchtime service Aqua Shard popularity has not waned since it opened back in 2013. The fact that afternoon tea is always sold out whenever I’ve tried to book also supports this theory, as dining slots finished during lunch new diners were immediately ushered to their tables. As it’s located in one of the capital’s top tourist attractions it’s certainly awash with international sightseers as well as businessmen and women plus those looking to celebrate a special occasion or treat a loved one in a memorable location. If you find yourself in London it’s worth a visit for a lovely lunch, afternoon tea (book ahead here), dinner or weekend brunch. For those visiting The Shard itself I can recommend you drop by the bar (no reservation needed but you may fight to get a seat) for post sightseeing sunset drinks to appreciate the city views at dusk.
Location: Level 31 at The Shard, 31 St. Thomas Street, London. UK SE1 9RY
Telephone: 020 3011 1256
Opening Hours: Breakfast – Monday to Friday 7:00am-10.30am, Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays 9:00am-10:00am
Weekend Brunch – Sat-Sun & Bank Holidays 10.30am-3.30pm
Lunch – Monday to Friday Noon-2.45pm. Afternoon Tea – Monday to Friday, 1.00 – 5.00pm, Saturday & Sunday (except Bank Holidays) 1.00 – 4.00pm
Dinner – Monday to Sunday 6pm-11pm
The bar at Aqua Shard – Monday to Sunday Noon to Late (No reservation required). Dress Code for the restaurant and bar is smart casual. Sports clothing, vests and flip-flops are not permitted.
Read more about The Shard in previous post Legendary London
All views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2017. All rights reserved. Featured photo and last two photos used with courtesy of aquashard.co.uk