It’s all about the views, as London knows only too well. Rooftop restaurants combine the best of cuisine and city panoramas – and plenty more are opening up.
Two huge peacocks adorn the top of the transparent stairwell in the rooftop restaurant at the new Montcalm Royal London House hotel. Hovering overhead is an enormous white birdcage, with myriad birds perched on the outside. All the creatures are stuffed and very lifelike – appropriate, of course, for a venue named Aviary. (9th Floor, Montcalm Royal London House hotel, 22-25 Finsbury Square, EC2A 1DX. T: 020-3873 4000)
From the inside, views in three directions take in City landmarks including the Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe) and the Walkie-Talkie (20 Fenchurch Street). The real gem, especially in summer, is the restaurant’s large decked terrace with pastel-coloured sofas. A white bell-tower on the adjacent building adds even more distinction to the urban surroundings.
Inside the light-filled restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows, the bar takes centre stage with wood and brass fittings and an excellent choice of cocktails. The food menu combines homeliness and impeccable style.
You might say that Sunday lunch is "just" a lunch, but once you look at the starters section you’ll see that Aviary is a cut above the rest. The white onion soup is hearty and flavoursome, however the beetroot salad steals the show: wafer-thin discs of perfect circles of pale pink heritage beetroot, forming a base for tiny cubes of goat’s cheese, walnuts and truffles.
If you want to go down the traditional Sunday lunch route, try the beef, roasted in the coal oven, which comes with a wooden board presenting the sides: duck-fat roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese and Yorkshire puddings so vast and fluffy they look like out-of-control clouds.
There is also a large array of fish, pan-fried with a sauce of your choice. Drown your fried skate wing in the browned butter and caper sauce, and enjoy heritage new potatoes in seaweed butter. Cholesterol overkill? Totally.
Don’t let this stop you digging in to dessert. There’s a divine chocolate ganache with passion fruit sorbet, an After Eight arctic roll and a sticky toffee pudding. At least you don’t have to fly home like the birds – or your belly really would weigh you down.
Looking for more choices? Here are some more new venues...
This new rooftop venue in Canary Wharf (above) not only has 360-degree views of the Thames, The O2 and The Shard, but also provides telescopes for you to take an even closer look of the city. Bar-restaurant Bōkan boasts a superior cocktail and bar food menu–try the charcuterie and cheese boards–with banquette seating on its plant-filled terrace, 39 floors up. Head chef Aurélie Altemaire offers sophisticated modern European dishes. Step outside and enjoy the summer! (40 Marsh Wall, Isle of Dogs, E14 9TP)
This is the second London branch of the top-notch restaurant, taking over Covent Garden’s famous Opera Terrace, with a balcony overlooking the cobbled piazza. Of course, if you need your fix of the superb Japanese-Brazilian-Peruvian fusion in the meantime, there’s always the large Heron Tower branch for your delectation. (Opera Building, Market Terrace, WC2E 8RF)