Searcys restaurant opens the doors to London’s most exclusive view for six weeks
Sitting right at the top of Norman Foster’s most iconic building, the Gherkin, Searcys is one of London’s most exclusive restaurants. Its spectacular 360-degree view under the glass dome is open to the public for the first time to celebrate its tenth anniversary – for six weeks only.
The peerless panorama – with a clear view over all of the City’s skyscrapers, the Shard, St Paul’s and central London – is far from being the only reason you would want to book a table. Head chef Matthew Edmonds’ menu features fine dishes and quality ingredients worth a Michelin star – something that Searcys can’t achieve due to its private members status.
On top of the three-course dinner, there’s a spectacular ten-course tasting menu to honour the decade since the restaurant’s 2004 opening. The sommelier has prepared a selection of wine pairings for those who want the complete experience.
After a glass of delicious Brice champagne rosé, a little cone of smoked salmon roe and a selection of warm bread (I still can’t believe that most restaurants haven’t understood that two minutes in the oven elevate its enjoyment) the dinner is ready to begin.
The first two courses are Watermelon, Ginger, Lime Compression and Tarragon, Fennel, Sourdough. If you have left some champagne in your glass you’ll find it was the right thing to do because the intensity of the watermelon and the sweetness of the refreshing foam are simply a perfect match.
Equally perfect is the pairing – this time intentionally proposed by the sommelier – between the glass of white Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi “Gino” 2012 by San Lorenzo and the tarragon emulsion. The minerality of the wine mingles nicely with the wild flavour of fennel and complements the overall dryness of the dish.
Although it’s summer, even the cold wind and rain can’t dampen our enjoyment of the sophisticated Asparagus Velouté, Sweetcorn Ganache with graceful Thai asparagus and white chocolate. The Ham Hock, Saffron, Cauliflower that follows on the menu, though not quite so effortlessly elegant, is enhanced by the saffron vinegar. Unfortunately the wine this time is not great: the pinot noir by Vallet Frères is very basic and unsophisticated, the opposite of what a pinot noir should be.
Burgundy and Piedmont are the world’s most prestigious regions for wines; their terroirs are so defined that a metre makes the difference between a £300-a-bottle estate and a £20 one. The classification that results from this defining process is reflected by the bottle’s appellation: grand cru, premier cru, village, sub-regional and regional. I would avoid pinot noirs that do not come at least from a village.
The Scallop, Jersey Royal, Pea, Broad Bean and the Red Mullet, Bouillabaisse, Bread Foam are the peak of the meal – both perfectly cooked, tender and with vegetables that actually taste of nature. The red mullet, cooked at 40 degrees for 30 minutes and served at room temperature, is marvellous. Both dishes combine really well with the dry, mineral and crisp Alsatian Riesling 2012 by Mark Kreydenweiss.A palate cleanser is necessary before moving to the lamb, and the Herb Sorbet with rocket, basil and red wine vinegar does the job. A glass of Egri Bikaver – a famous red Hungarian wine I haven’t tried before – by Bolyki is served just before the last savoury course. It’s a big blend of at least four grapes, medium-bodied and rather tannic, with red cherry aromas.
The Hardwick Best End of Lamb, Ratte Potato, Mushroom satisfies that need for red meat that many of us have. It’s not particularly tender but it’s a refined dish with which to enjoy the red wine.
Although for me desserts need to factor chocolate in the equation to earn their title, both the Pineapple Consommé, Coconut and Strawberry, Champagne Jelly are delicious, based on possibly my two favourite fruits. The pineapple consommé is what blows you away.
A dinner at Searcys is a must for every foodie – and every Londoner who wants to try something remarkable. The view, the food and the restaurant’s environment are all unique; before or after your meal you can also enjoy a drink at the bar above the dining room, set right below the building’s glass dome. Considering that this opportunity is so limited, I recommend you don’t waste any more time on this review and make a booking.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Laura Denti
To book a table at Searcys, 30 St Mary Axe London EC3A 8EP, call 020 7071 5025 or enquire here.