Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Breakfast at The Shard

It's not every day you drop your kids to school in a fur coat and heels and then go and have breakfast on the 31st floor of London's tallest building. The Shard offers fantastic views over London town, even on a cloudy, dull January day, most notably the Gherkin and the Heron Tower, St Paul's Cathedral, and of course, Tower Bridge, which you can almost touch. The foyer on the ground floor, the entrance to the Shangri-La Hotel, is where you enter this tower, and the automatic lift takes you directly to the 32nd floor. No sneaking out on random floors for a peek at the apartments or offices! Breakfast is served at Aqua Shard between 7am and 10.30am, Monday to Friday. I'm sure all the business meetings and multi-million-pound deals were thrashed out long before we arrived, so our reservation got us a booth overlooking the fantastic view, with St Paul's in the foreground, and Hampsted Heath in the hazy distance. Tables for two were even closer to the glass facade, but our four-seater was cosy and comfy and close enough.

We began with a Morning Elixir cocktail - it was after all, a special occasion! The Shard Mimosa is a refreshing yet sweet cocktail made with 'blood orange juice, solerno, Aperol, passion fruit syrup, a dash of plum bitter, and topped with English Sparkling wine'. Starting the day with an alcoholic cocktail isn't your everyday breakfast I admit, but it does brighten a dull day considerably! We followed this with a bottle of the English Sparkling wine which was one of the best I've tasted. Being sensible and responsible, it was time to eat!

Two of us chose the Eggs Benedict, 'Black Treacle cured ham, toasted English muffins, poached eggs, Béarnaise.'
aqua shard
Eggs Benedict
As a Benedict novice, I wasn't sure about Béarnaise sauce first thing in the morning (well, 10am, now), but it was delicious - the eggs were perfectly poached, the muffins tastefully toasted and the sauce simply spiced, with just enough of a kick to satisfy my love of a bit of heat. I polished off the lot, accompanied by a flat white coffee. Next to me Himself devoured his full English 'Two Old House Farm eggs, any way (he had poached), Maynard's farm treacle cured smoked streaky bacon, Cumberland sausage, spinach, Bermondsey salted ricotta, vine tomatoes, grilled mushrooms, smoked ham hock cannellini beans, hash browns, black pudding, toasted sourdough.'

Aqua shard
Full English
His only moan was the presence of his dreaded mushrooms, and the fact that all the food was piled up, so that he had to dismantle a tower of food before tucking in! But by all accounts it was excellent.

Being engrossed in eating my own breakfast I was distracted only by some exclamations from the kedgeree eater! 'Loch Duart confit salmon, green peas, rice, fried duck egg, herbs, spices, organic salmon roe.' Delicious, of course, filling, and surprisingly (?) spicy! I shall be having this next time! Service was a little slow, and the staff all seemed quite young and indifferent, but it was adequate enough for a relaxed meal. 

aqua shard
Aqua Shard Kedgeree
Once we'd finished our coffees (yes, still being sensible), we did the tourist thing, and admired the view, taking photos with our cameraphones. There are a lot of beautiful photos online of the London skyline and the View from the Shard at various times of day, so I will leave you to peruse those yourself, while mine are all engraved in my memory (i.e. my photos were a bit... blurred!). Also be sure to check out the bathroom!

It being almost lunchtime at this stage, we were still too full to eat any more, but were not deterred from trying a cocktail, one floor up. On the 32nd floor, hosted by girls in gorgeous Ted Baker dresses, is Oblix. There is a restaurant and a bar lounge, opening at 12 noon. As we were a few minutes early, we hovered in the lift foyer, and practiced some dance moves (no, not me). At 12 on the button we walked the long dark candlelit corridor to the bar lounge, where a deli bar serves food at lunch, and admired the view from a slightly different angle. Also the notorious ice block, used for sculpting ice with a chainsaw for cocktails! People began coming in for lunch so we were seated on the couch, and chose a cocktail from the extensive menu. Mine was a Sin City (centre of pic) which had lemongrass and lime, topped with English Sparkling wine (can you tell I like that stuff!?) and I'm sure other ingredients. The one on the right was rhubarb-based, and disappointing for the price. The one on the left was guzzled with gusto so it must have been good, but I'm damned if I can remember the name of it! One of us had a coffee at this point... and then back to North London for the school run.




oblix shard
Sin City


Overall I would definitely go back again for breakfast and cocktails. I can imagine an evening drink overlooking the beautiful city of London, watching the sun set, and the lights come on, would be very romantic and relaxing. Don't expect it to be cheap, and be sure to book before you go, but where else could you eat, drink, and relax with such a majestic panorama of our magnificent city?


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