White Night at Skylon
Robust, complex and surprisingly versatile, the Bordeaux red is one of the culinary industry’s most revered icons. Served everywhere, from the humble bistros of France to the upper echelons of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants, its wide-ranging appeal is the hallmark of a true classic.
Yet the region still holds plenty of surprises for the enthusiastic oenophile. For the past month, D&D Wine have hosted the Bordeauxlicious festival to showcase some of the area’s lesser known delights. This fascinating journey through the secrets of the region came to a conclusion with White Night at Skylon, an event designed to highlight the white bordeaux that are still stunningly underappreciated.
An impressively sleek medley of dark wood, brushed metal and crisp white tablecloths, Skylon is a the very model of relaxed elegance. Set against a sweeping panorama of the illuminated South Bank, the main restaurant boasts one of the finest views in all of the capital and looked particularly gorgeous in the evening glow. The food was similarly stunning, utilising simple white crockery as a backdrop for vibrant swirls of micro-herbs and rounds of tender meat. Even the most simple dish of the evening, an amuse bouche consisting of white tomato soup, was served with style. Clean, fresh and ever so slightly sour, it was an impressive start that left us in eager anticipation for our starters.
The first of which, the Smoked haddock kedgeree risotto, was superb. A triumph of velvety indulgence, it paired soft tangles of fish with creamy rice and a much needed crunch from thin sticks of granary toast. The citrusy zing of a Sauvignon Blanc was ideally suited for cutting through richness of the risotto with gusto. Despite reading beautifully, Leg and breast of grouse with an apple and celeriac salad didn’t quite hit the same heights. The meat was simply lacking the intensity of flavour that usually makes grouse such a delight, though the shredded salad and its accompanying hazelnut gravy were both sublime, as was the accompanying Chateau Rahoul Blanc.
The accompaniments to our first main, glazed Creedy Carver duck breast, followed suit with bold and harmonious flavours. A silky scoop of creamed peas was particularly delectable, its grassy sweetness a perfect match for the rich meat, although dainty spears of white asparagus drizzled with duck gravy weren’t to be scoffed at either. The two thick slabs of breast, however, were undoubtedly the highlight. Cooked medium, their succulent flesh was overflowing with a robust gaminess that paired beautifully with the freshness of the vegetables. Glazed fillet of beef was much the same: an agreeable union between a seriously good hunk of meat and a smattering of flavoursome accompaniments. Served with a truffle and madeira gravy, the buttery soft beef was a luxurious treat.
Skylon’s way with unabashedly big flavours continued with the desserts. A Lavender panna cotta managed that most troublesome of ingredients with seeming effortlessness, adding a beautifully floral note that never threatened to become overpowering. The ginger ice cream and poached peaches were equally well balanced, and together the three formed a potent but cohesive whole. Soft lemon curd meringue and strawberry sorbet were both pleasingly tart, but neither one could compete with the simple brilliance of the strawberry and mint salad that accompanied them. Refreshing and decidedly moreish, it was a delicious reminder of how successful this pairing can be.
We finished our meal with a small selection of petit four, the most delicious of which was a decidedly rich chocolate shell filled with runny caramel. It made a perfect partner for a playful glass of Monbazillac, whose honeyed sweetness was undercut with refreshing notes of apricot and citrus. It ended the meal in an elegant, understated way that’s so very reflective of the restaurant as a whole.
Skylon might not be pushing boundaries like some of its contemporaries, but there’s a certain kind of bravery in that, a belief in quality over novelty. They won’t dazzle you with tricks or amaze you with invention, and that’s fine: this is a restaurant built on bold flavours, stunning views and a great wine list. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Melissa Harper
To book a table at Skylon, Royal Festival Hall London SE1 8XX, call 020 7654 7800 or visit here.