“Did they run out of steel to finish the top of the building, mummy?” asked my daughter. She was looking out the back of the taxi as we weaved our way through London traffic. On a Saturday evening, the vendors at Borough Market have closed and the party crowd have not come out yet.
She was looking back at the building we had just left, The Shard, a 95-storey skyscraper in London designed by starchitect Renzo Piano. What had confused her was that the top looks like shards of glass puncturing the sky (hence the name).
“No, honey, that is what it supposed to look like.” I explain to her and trying not to laugh.
The Shard is currently Europe’s tallest building. We had just had dinner at Oblix, one of a handful of restaurants in the building.
Oblix at The Shard
Can I tell you the strangest thing about reaching Oblix which is located on the 32nd floor? You get in an elevator and there is a button that says 32. But there are signs that instruct you not to press the button. If you do press the button (my children couldn’t resist), an ominous voice scolds you for having done so. Frankly, if they are going to put a button in an elevator, why can’t you press it? So strange. Anyway, the elevator whisks you up and down so fast, expect your ears to pop.
Decor at Oblix
The strangeness continues as you exit the elevator into a long dark tunnel. Just as your eyes get adjusted to the moody darkness, you are blinded by the light emanating from the restaurant. Maybe the instant dazzle is supposed to shock you into forgetting the prices on the menu placed at your table.
Unlike a lot of restaurants, you enter through the kitchen. It was all artistically laid out but there was also real cooking happening. Unlike my kitchen, it was not chaotic at all. The chefs must be under a lot of pressure not only to turn out great food but to be photography-worthy while doing it.
The meats and vegetables are in carefully curated displays. The famed Josper oven is visible to everyone as well. An expensive Big Chef’s toy, the Josper oven is a combination charcoal grill and oven which delivers the best of both worlds.
There’s a library table in a corner of the restaurant which seats twelve. It is surrounded by books that chef/restaurateur Rainer Becker finds inspirational. Effectively it’s a private room without actually any privacy.
Sort of like the food, the interior decor has a little bit for everyone – tables by the window, bar seating, a library table, ordinary restaurant tables and cubicle seating.
Food and Drink at Oblix
The food at Oblix is modern European with hints of Asian influence which is no doubt owing to the international backgrounds of its chefs and its clientele. Becker used to be head chef at Park Hyatt Tokyo (of Lost in Translation fame). In London, Becker used to run high-end Japanese restaurants, Zuma in Knightsbridge and Roka on Charlotte StreetRoka on Charlotte Street. The executive chef used to work at French Laundry in the Napa valley of Northern California.
My daughter had a side dish of macaroni and cheese which apparently is really popular with children. My son was having none of it. He ordered the sirloin steak along with the rest of the adults. The Josper oven definitely did its magic with our steaks.
You know that I like my cocktails. I ordered a ginger cocktail (rum, lime and coconut beer) which was delicious. I had a cocktail called Habanero which seemed a variation on the Negroni which I did not enjoy as much.
The Views From Oblix
You can’t beat the panoramic views over London from the large window panes. As dusk fell and the city lights shimmered, Tower Bridge remained the star of the show. The inky Thames snakes its way past numerous landmarks and the tentacles of the train tracks below reach out through the city.
How would I rate this restaurant? Expensive but worth it. Also, on the plus side, you won’t have to pay the £25 per person to ascend to the viewing platform at the top of The Shard.
Details for Oblix
Oblix is located on the 32nd floor of The Shard, 31 St. Thomas Street. It is open for lunch and dinner. There is both a restaurant and a lounge bar, each with separate menus. Reservations are available online.
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