London Peak Experience

20 Fenchurch, better known as the Walkie Talkie

One of my aims on this trip to London was to see some of the newer skyscrapers up close, and to have a special meal at one of them. The Gherkin and the Cheesegrater only offer public access and restaurants at the ground level, while the viewing platforms at the Shard offer only snacks. So, the choice was clear: Fenchurch Restaurant at the Walkie Talkie!

As regular readers know, Rom and I are (95%) vegetarian and we had a previous fine dining experience in London at the delightful Vanilla Black. We were ready to up the ante price-wise for a memorable occasion. I made a reservation for the 5-course vegetarian tasting menu weeks ahead of the visit. Happily it was a fine day and we enjoyed excellent views.

SkyGarden on 35-36th Floor

Tourists can book a time slot for a free visit to the two-story tropical garden at the top of the building (it has a café and a bar). At the time of our trip to London, all the spaces had been snapped up immediately when they were released online. During the high season, obtaining a drop-in time slot would be unlikely. With a restaurant reservation, we didn’t need a booking to visit the SkyGarden, and I felt both privileged and a little embarrassed when we were ushered to the front of the queue. From there, we took the high-speed elevator to the 35th floor. We arrived early to take in the views:

 

The garden area has a central column set back from the exterior windows. Here are located the elevators and restaurants. So, diners are enclosed in a glass-faced restaurant inside the glass-faced building. Depending on the seating, it is possible to receive panoramic views or not. We were fortunate to have good sight lines to the gardens and the city.

Since Rom doesn’t drink alcohol, I decided not to order the wine pairing menu. Perhaps the server was concerned when I started with a glass of inexpensive Prosecco, but I was redeemed in the sommelier’s eyes with my choice of a dessert wine later. Rom tried a non-alcoholic “gin” called Seedlip: who knew there was such a thing?

Fenchurch has a dedicated bread server who brought a selection of rolls three times throughout the meal.

Bread and wine

The meal started with an amuse-bouche (pre-appetizer) which I believe was a potato velouté with crackling caramelized onions and basil oil:

Amuse-Bouche

This was followed by samples of two lovely salad starters:

Tomato and Burrato Salad. I regret you can’t see the gorgeous true colours of the sweet red and yellow tomatoes.

Artichoke and Summer Squash Salad

Next were generous samples of two main courses:

White Bean, Mushroom and Onion Cassoulet

Roasted Potato and Eggplant with Ricotta

We finished with a delicious fruit dessert and drinks:

Berry Pana Cotta, Poached Cherries and Ice Cream

The two-hour meal with attentive and unobtrusive service was a luxurious city break in an unparalleled setting. We loved it!

The details:

  • Smart casual or better dress is required
  • All visitors pass through security on the ground floor which includes x-rays and/or bag searches
  • 5-course vegetarian sampler lunch was £45 pp ($75 Canadian) plus drinks and suggested service charge (tip) of 12.5%

The menu:

Lunch – Vegetarian Tasting Menu

See also their web site: https://skygarden.london/fenchurch-restaurant

This is not a sponsored post.

I would be interested in hearing about any special location / splurge meals you have enjoyed!

14 comments

  1. jbistheinitial

    That seems very reasonable for a nice meal in London, you could easily pay something close to that for a couple of courses in a London pub. I keep trying to convince Thomas to come to a fine dining place with me, but he’s not convinced that he’d get decent value for money as a vegan (he’s more the type to want a huge portion of vegan junk food than dainty plates of fancy cuisine!)

    • I think restaurant-going is polarized: people have a strong preference either for novelty and presentation, or for big portions to fill up! We have no veggie fine dining in our hometown. It is all cheap and cheerful. We’re in a small city (200,000) where most folks are budget-conscious. We would normally pay $35-40 for a filling lunch for two in a pub. So $150+ was a big shift, but one I thoroughly looked forward to and enjoyed because it’s a choice I can’t make most of the time! I agree the price wasn’t excessive for London – I saw a lot of fixed-price lunches advertised for about 20 pounds/person ($35), at everyday places.

  2. Going to an old city to see newer skyscrapers sounds like something I would do!

  3. Margie in Toronto

    Au Pied du Cochon http://aupieddecochon.ca/menu/ in Montreal. I’d wanted to try it out for ages so on my last trip to Montreal I made a reservation – 2 months ahead of time. It was worth it! I could have licked my plate! 🙂
    It sounds as though you have had a wonderful trip – and how lovely that you could tour the garden and had a wonderful view from your table.

  4. I love the exciting designs of skyscrapers in London. What a beautiful, exciting city! You are so lucky to be able to travel there every year.

    The meal looks delicious and interesting. And what a bonus to get to beat the queue.

    Meals that I remember more the special place include on the island fort in the middle of Sydney Harbour and being in Jamie Oliver’s restaurant looking at St Paul’s in London. I remember the food at both was delish. We had a roast for two at JO’s, and Mr S said it was the best roast he ever ate.

    • Well, I am definitely not bored with London – every trip is different. And such a counterpoint to staying in rural Sussex (which is also charming). I heard a radio program recently in which callers were swooning about their favourite meals ever. I will have to think about that!

  5. Fiona

    Those meals look absolutely gorgeous. I was closely dissecting the photos wanting to make a mock-up at home (especially the Roasted Potato and Eggplant with Ricotta.) The venue looks like a delight. For that venue, in that city and that type of dining…I think it was really a bargain. That is not expensive by Melbourne standards. Fine-dining here would be double that cost (and minus the views and location.) They are lovely, inspiring dishes!

    • Hi Fiona, I actually do think the price was fair, but I am just not accustomed to those kinds of splurges. I guess I’d better start my long-term savings plan for a future Melbourne trip now 😉 What you can’t see in the potato-and-eggplant dish is some gooey, brown roasted eggplant mush underneath everything – it was delicious!

  6. You know I love a splurge meal like this, and I think what you got was remarkably well priced! I would never go vegetarian for one, in part because there’s such diverse options at fine dining and you try meats and seafood you’d never think to otherwise. That being said, they rise to the challenge of any eating plan, vegetarian particularly. I have a soft spot for cassoulet, so that’s the one I’d be more keen to have tasted!

    • When we make meals at home, we make a lot of one-pot foods like chilis and curries. At restaurants, I usually only have one course, no appetizers or desserts. I love tasting menus and samplers because you can get a sense of the chef’s style and you can enjoy the presentation and the combinations.

  7. Pingback: A Day Each | An Exacting Life

  8. These pictures look delicious. Makes me interested in trying more vegetarian dishes. I did a tasting menu in DC when I visited my cousin and it was fantastic and pricey. I discovered squid ink which I didn’t think I’d like.

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