What can you tell us about Oblix?
Oblix is the first restaurant to set up shop in London's tallest building, the Shard (hence the “oblisk-esqe” name). It's on the 32nd floor of imposing building and is run by Rainer Becker, the man behind popular high end west end restaurants Roka and Zuma.
While those restaurants focused on Asian cuisine, Oblix's menu is more like that of an American grill - steaks and rotisserie are the focus here. It’s also equally divided between a restaurant and bar space.
But enough of that - what's the view like?
As with any high rise dining venture, no matter how good the food is, the view will always be the primary attraction (and in our view does actually help to enhance - good - food). And the view from Oblix, about half way up the Shard is undeniably spectacular. Both the bar and restaurant offer different vistas of London - the bar overlooks Tower Bridge and the City, while the restaurant overlooks St Paul's.
Arguably, during the day, the view from the bar is the better option, particularly as it also overlooks London Bridge station. The view of commuters getting on what looks like a toy train set from that height is oddly compelling, and one we could watch for ages. At night, the restaurant view of St Paul's, lit up in the distance, also looks suitably spectacular.
Where is it?
It's essentially right over London Bridge station. Head for the Great Ormond Street exit - at time of writing, the signs to the entrance weren't great. Paradoxically it's the one place in London where you can't easily locate it by looking at the London skyline.
Where should we meet for a drink first?
Given the fact that you're heading up the Shard anyway, meeting at the bar is by far the best option (there was still plenty of space when we arrived at 7.30 - but this was early days). The bar, as mentioned, is easily as big as the restaurant and we'd definitely recommend having a pre-dinner drink in here (decent cocktails which were priced about right for a high-end, high-rise bar).
Another alternative is on the way, however, when Aqua open their two restaurants on the 33rd floor (currently due in July 2013). Whether you'll be able to travel between Aqua and Oblix without returning to the lobby is not known yet...
So what's the difference between the bar and the restaurant?
Besides the view, a few things. First off, there's a separate menu in the bar, which is essentially a cut down version on the restaurant's (there's no rotisserie and the biggest steak isn't available). We'd also say it has a slightly more casual dining feel about it when compared to the restaurant. A separate menu is available during the day (we're getting details of that and will update as soon as we have it). More of a minus is that if you come for drinks after 9pm, there is a rather hefty cover charge of £12. So we'd definitely make sure you arrive before then, unless you're settling in to listen to the live music.
The restaurant, meanwhile is a more traditional dining venue, with a large open kitchen that you walk through to reach your table.
And where should we sit?
Obviously, the main answer is "by the window". In the lounge for our pre dinner drink we were sat at table 206 - a corner table overlooking Tower Bridge. It's definitely one worth seeking out if you can, and we'd say a corner table in the restaurant would be worth it too. In the restaurant it might be worth avoiding the tables by the back of the restaurant if you're really there, like everyone is, for the view (those are the ones by the bookcases).
Onto the food, is bread included?
It most certainly is, with a warm olive sourdough mini loaf and pleasingly salted butter kicking things off nicely.
And what should we order?
First off, it depends on your budget. Oblix is certainly not a cheap restaurant, but that is to be expected given the location and the owner's previous high end restaurants. Starters - designed to be shared, but still fairly small - start at £7 but jump up as much as £19 for crab cakes. Those crab cakes were excellent, arriving with a wonderful lime jelly, but we did wince slightly at the price. We ordered 3 starters - the burrata, olives and dotterini tomatoes being the standout, but was again a punchy £15. We were indeed invited to dine at Oblix, but it's clear the bill could shoot up.
For the mains, we ordered the rotisserie chicken with skordelia (£16) and the 800g bone in ribeye - hey, we were hungry! - at £54. These prices seem a little more even-handed as the steak was VERY big, with a generous serving of bearnaise and cooked perfectly medium as ordered. The chicken with skordalia (garlic mash) was also good -albeit a tad salty. Sides are between £4.50 (mash and garlic crisps) and £7 (grilled asparagus) and are large servings easily enough for two.
So we'd probably say, go easy on the starters and big on the mains, which do offer better value, in our opinion.
Dessert wise, we went for a selection of ice cream. A standout here was the bourbon and vanilla. It was amazing, and if we were ordering again, we'd order three scoops of that alone. Or buy a tub to take away. We did like the smaller options of macaroons or biscuit selection that were on offer too.
How about drinks?
Wines start at £24 - for an Argentinian torrontes - which frankly isn't bad at all for this type of venue. Obviously there are many wines much pricier than that too. Even a glass of Bolllinger at £13 seems tempting to toast the view.
We really did enjoy the meal at Oblix. It's great to finally head up for a bite inside this amazing building, and we'll almost certainly be back for a drink (before 9!) when we're back in the area. The food was decent, the view is amazing and it does the job of feeling like a special occasion.
Oblix is all the way up at Level 32, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London SE1 9RY.
Prices were correct at time of writing. Hot Dinners were invited to eat at Oblix.