Oblix at The Shard: Chic, urban dining with spectacular views
Located on the 32nd floor of Western Europe’s tallest skyscraper, one thing at Oblix is for certain: the view you get is pretty damn spectacular. Prepare to be whizzed up all 32 ear-popping levels by their dedicated lifts from street level, navigating airport-style X-ray scanners and the restaurant’s dark tunnel entrance along the way. But once you get up there, the sight of London’s sprawling skyline from their floor-to-ceiling glass windows is sure to take your breath away. The brainchild of chef & restauranteur Rainer Becker (of Roka and Zuma fame), Oblix has the look and feel of a Manhattan-style grill & cocktail bar through and through – a marked change in direction from Becker’s prior Japanese-themed ventures. In addition to traditional Josper grilled meats, Oblix also serves up a range of contemporary dishes, drawing from influences which span from the Mediterranean to the Far-East. At the helm of the kitchen here is Executive Chef Fabien Beaufour whose CV includes stints at Eleven Madison Park in NYC and Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Napa Valley. Last month, I was invited along with a group of fellow food bloggers to sample some of Chef Fabien’s latest creations from their Lounge dinner menu.
With live jazz crooning in the background, our evening kicked off with some expertly made cocktails accompanied by a selection of snacks and small plates to share. Of the lot we were served, their Smoked Carrot dish, served with creamy goat’s curd and crunchy rye crumbs was undoubtedly the highlight of the entire evening. The deep, smoky flavour of the carrot combined with the other elements and textures was just fantastic. I usually don’t wax lyrical about vegetarian dishes, but this was seriously good. Venison Tartare with Black Truffle & Parmesan also impressed – the gamey flavour of the tender venison chunks stood up well to the earthiness of the truffle shavings and nutty Parmesan shards.
A mixed bag of slightly larger dishes soon followed. Harissa Lamb Cutlets – albeit a tad dear for paying customers at £15 for 2 pieces – were meaty, tender and chargrilled to absolute perfection. The balance of flavours between savoury, spicy and sweet in the harissa marinade was bang on the money. Truffle Flatbread, loaded with generous shavings of top-notch black truffle, maple-glazed onions and ricotta cheese was equally as moreish and delicious. At £19.50 a portion, it doesn’t come cheap either. But as with all things truffle, you get what you pay for. Their deep-fried dishes however were less memorable. We sampled pretty much the full range of fried options on offer from soft-shell crab to baby chicken. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the execution of the dishes per say but I wouldn’t rush back here for any of them – you can find better fried chicken and soft-shell crab elsewhere.
Near bursting with all the food by now, a full spread of puds brought the curtains down on proceedings. It was hard not to love some of their more playful desserts like the Maple Bacon Donuts and Iced Bourbon Sandwiches with PB&J dip. Full marks for ingenuity and comfort food factor there. I was less sure about their Thai Mango & exotic sorbet platter though – it seemed a bit out of place relative to the rest of the dishes if you ask me.
With a full meal and drinks likely to set one back at least £70, dining here is not a budget option by any means. But bearing in mind it costs £25 alone to go up to The Shard’s viewing platform, the high prices should come as no surprise. All things considered, I thought it was an enjoyable evening on the whole. Service from the front of house team was attentive and friendly throughout and it was great to see Chef Fabien take the time to personally explain the philosophy behind his dishes to our group. Yes, some of the food missed the mark, but I thought there were some quite terrific dishes in the mix that I’d be happy to return for. Plus, lets not forget the live jazz and that incredible view. G.
Level 32, The Shard, 31 St. Thomas Street, London SE1 9RY | www.oblixrestaurant.com | Thurs Dec 11th 2014
p.s. My thanks again to the team at Oblix for the invitation.
* theboywhoatetheworld was a guest of the restaurant. All views expressed are my own.