Pity the poor panoramic restaurant. They might boast the best views of the capital, but the lack of outdoor space on the 42nd floor means they haven’t been able to take advantage of the easing of restrictions for the hospitality industry — until now.
But from 17 May, they’ll be sashaying out of lockdown like the sequin-clad Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. With gala dinners, champagne cocktails and complimentary magnums of Moet to tempt you back, here’s where to go.
Searcy’s at The Gherkin
London’s original sky-high dining room on levels 39 and 40 of The Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe, EC3) is welcoming guests back with a series of five-course gala dinners during their opening week. For those who’ve missed daytime drinking, order a bottle of Moet Chandon with lunch, Monday to Wednesday, and they’ll upgrade it to a magnum.
London’s highest rooftop garden, at the top of the Walkie Talkie (1 Sky Garden Walk, EC3), had its outdoor status rescinded last month, but its gardeners have been busy during their extended lockdown and promise it will be blooming when diners return on 17th May. Plan a reunion with friends over weekend brunch at Darwin Brasserie on the 36th floor. One level up, the focus at Fenchurch Street restaurant is on seafood platters and caviar — with vertiginous prices to match.
Oblix West and East, across the 32nd floor of The Shard (31 St Thomas Street, SE1), reopen on 19th May. Head West for fine dining, East for the livelier atmosphere of the bar. Aqua Shard, on floor 31, has possibly even better views of the capital, with 360 degree floor-to-ceiling glass windows. The Peter Pan-themed afternoon tea feels suitably escapist after the long months of lockdown.
High-rise, high-class dining at Jason Atheron’s Michelin starred venture in Tower 42 (25 Old Broad Street, EC2). The modern British menu features the best regional ingredients, such as Devon crab, Loch Fyne scallops and venison from the Aynhoe estate.
Duck & Waffle
Forty floors up at the summit of 110 Bishopsgate, EC2, Duck & Waffle boasts the somewhat niche status of being the highest 24-hour restaurant in London. So if you fancy a dozen oysters at 3am or, indeed, the namesake duck and waffle (confit duck leg, fried duck’s egg and waffle drizzled with mustard maple syrup), you’ll be able to indulge again.
Sabine by St Paul’s
The dome of Christopher Wren’s masterpiece will be in your eyeline at this new bar on the seventh floor of Leonardo Royal Hotel (10 Godliman Street, EC4). Described as a ‘secret garden’ in the heart of the City, Sabine will serve contemporary cocktails and food across its two terraces and a conservatory with a retracting roof. Opens 20th May.
The Rooftop at Trafalgar St James
The Rooftop, the bar on the seventh floor of this hotel, claims to have the best view in London. Blankets and heaters are provided for the hardy souls having drinks in the outdoor space — but from 17th May, you’ll be able to dine in comfort when you book Room, a glass-enclosed private dining space for 14 overlooking the famous square.
Perhaps surprisingly, there’s a dearth of high-altitude dining in Docklands. Bokan 37 towers above Canary Wharf, on the, um, 37th floor of the the shimmering Novotel (40 Marsh Wall, E14). Executive chef, Guillaume Gillan (formerly of L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon) has crafted a modern European menu that reputedly rivals the views.
The spiritual home of the Instagrammer, up a much-photographed pink stairwell, atop a multi-storey carpark in Peckham (95a Rye Lane, SE15), Frank’s reopens for the summer on 14th May. All the Insta clichés are here — sunsets, Negronis, food flatlays. Bluff old traditionalists will be reassured to hear that the drinks are served in glasses rather than jam jars and the food tastes as good as it looks.