If panoramic views are your bag, then enter The Gherkin. A force to be reckoned with, London’s very own Empire State building and the subject of much debate – does it really look like a gherkin, or is it more of a rocket, cucumber or perhaps phallic-like… anyway, whatever your interpretation, The Gherkin is a sexy, stalwart London pin-up girl and visiting it is always a restaurant bucketlister.
Journey up the iconic landmark to floor 39 and you’ll at once become enveloped in city skyline, stars and the blinks and flashes of lights near and afar. The Searcys restaurant itself, sleek and shiny, isn’t new and has been attracting thrill seekers for quite some time. Bizarrely, the restaurant boasts a great deal of intimacy, despite hovering high up and attracting the gaze of hundreds, if not thousands. Inside, diners eat under the watchful eye of Head Chef Shaun Rowlands who sets the mood with a playful and unrivalled menu of seasonal ingredients, enjoyed whilst gazing out of diamond shaped windows.
Beginning with Champagne, as most meals should, the 70-seater restaurant became our starry-skied sanctuary for the evening as we frolicked in the glossy atmosphere amongst suit wearing celebrators and fabulously friendly waiting staff. Feeling like we were in a Sci-Fi film, Gotham City our backdrop, we made our way through starter, mains and dessert, beginning with dressed Portland crab and ham hock with grain mustard terrine, shallot jam, piccalilli. The latter dish was delicious, and didn’t stand a chance on my plate. Piccalilli plays on the palette, a needed juxtaposition to the more savoury must and terrine flavours.
Of course, with such stellar views you do wonder if you’re paying more for a dining ‘experience’ as opposed to the food itself, yet on the whole the cuisine was stunning, in presentation and taste. The Shorthorn sirloin steak with crushed Northumberland potatoes and King Oyster mushrooms was a wholesome Tuesday night treat that left me leaning back in my seat and patting my belly. The jus wasn’t overbearing and my cutlery fell through the tender meat, cut into fine slices, with ease. Triple cooked chips are also a must, (inset every superlative possible here!).
Whilst we stuck to wine as we dined, there are cocktails to be enjoyed just one floor up with ingredients lists that look much like a heady hangover fresh from a flower shop! Iris by Searcys is a floral dream flaunting tipples such as sweet and exotic The Flower Pot with yuzu, rose liqueur, watermelon, Peychaud’s Bitter and elderflower, and Berries in the Jungle with Brockmans Gin, banana liquor, apple and passion shrub, lemon and elderflower.
Partner a mouth cleansing cocktail with one of the puddings on offer, perhaps after a little grace period and time to soak up the atmosphere. A dessert favourite that transports you back to birthday parties as a kid is the Nyetimber and raspberry jelly with ripple ice cream – yes, OK, maybe you weren’t drinking sparkling wine as a kid per say, but the other ingredients sure do evoke nostalgia. For those with less of a sweet tooth, sink your teeth into a British cheese selection consisting of Baron Bigod, Blue Monday and Quicke’s vintage cheddar. Leaving little else to say but The Gherkin has definitely not lost its allure, despite having been kicking about since 2004. It’s slick, it’s suave, it’s sophisticated and if you go for nothing else, make it the view.
If you can’t spot The Gherkin from the ground, then navigate to 30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8BF, www.searceysatthegherkin.co.uk