So what's to know about eating at the Shard?
It's mainly all about the three restaurants sitting together in the middle of London's most prominent building. There's Oblix and the two restaurants that are run by the Aqua Group - Hutong and Aqua Shard. We've covered Hutong before, and Aqua Shard too - but things have changed sufficiently to tempt us back.
So what's changed?
There's a brand new chef in the kitchen for a start.
Dale Osborne will be best known to many for working with Nuno Mendes at the launch of Chiltern Firehouse and he's been busy revamping the menus at Aqua Shard since early in the year. The menu's now completely his and they've been making efforts to bring it back to the original premise. Namely that it's primarily focusing on British food with local ingredients wherever possible (it IS just over the road from Borough Market, after all).
And what about the drinks?
Everything's changed there too, as new bar manager Luca Missaglia has taken over and launched his new cocktail list. You may recognise him from having most recently revamped the list at Aqua London and before then as the bar manager of the Quo Vadis club.
As ever, the bar is a REAL attraction all in its own. If you're eating in any of the restaurants, make time to come to the Aqua Shard bar and its three storey high view of the Thames - hands-down one of the best views in London.
And the cocktails are excellent - particularly The English milk punch (£16.50) - a lovely concoction full of SO MANY ingredients, too many to list here. The pear and chocolate fizz (£15.50) with vodka, yuzu, pear liqueur, lemon, pear and sparkling wine is also recommended - the yuzu giving it a great kick.
And the food?
It's been quite a while since we first visited Aqua Shard, not long after the restaurant first opened. But we can say that the food has taken a huge step forward under Dale Osborne and - as our dining companion said - "the quality of food really matches the view". So it makes for a much more rounded experience.
As for the highlights - they were:
- Lock Etive hot and cold smoked trout (£15.50) - with trout roe, rock samphire, crispy skin and creme fraiche. We initially didn't go for this dish but were ushered in its direction by the chef and were VERY glad of his guidance. An outstanding (and quite large) starter, beautifully presented.
- Slow cooked Blythburgh pork belly and roasted fillet with baby turnips, chopped crackling barley and apple (£28). Perfectly tender pork with a wonderful gravy on the side. And those baby turnips were excellent.
- And for dessert, a bit of theater with the David's Mess (£8). This has a spherical meringue containing raspberries over guava sorbet and fresh Chantilly - you just smash the sphere to create the mess. A great dish and that guava sorbet was VERY nice.
And how about wine?
We had a very, very good bottle of wine - a Cervaro della Sala from Umbria that was... some way further down the list than we'd normally go. It was lovely, but if you're on more of a budget, bottles start at £32.50.
We've been back to the Shard to visit restaurants a few times - mainly because we really do love it here. The room and view at Aqua Shard is spectacular. It's a real special occasion place - one that's backed up by some wonderful staff on the floor. You'll be very well looked after here - and the food's highly recommended.
Aqua Shard is at Level 31 The Shard, 31 St. Thomas Street, London SE1 9RY. Find out more about Aqua Shard.
Hot Dinners were invited to Aqua Shard, prices are correct at the time of writing.