Sabine in St Paul’s: A rooftop bar that offers far more than a spectacular view
It never ceases to amaze me how in London strolling a few yards off the main road can take you onto near-secluded alleys harbouring some of the city’s best secrets. Admittedly, we can’t really class Sabine as an undiscovered gem considering it only just opened; in fact, judging by our visit, it’s likely that this rooftop bar won’t stay hidden for long.
The ground-level entrance might be unassuming from the outside, but after so many months of enforced curfew, taking a lift up to floor seven yields the same excitement as a trip in Willy Wonka’s Great Glass Elevator. The tour continues into an elegant bar area festooned with foliage, above which a glass ceiling allows us our first sneak preview of St Paul’s. But the most dramatic reveal is out on the sunny terrace, where the rest of the panorama unfurls in all its glory, from the iconic dome of Cristopher Wren’s 17th-century cathedral to the sleek futuristic blade of the Shard.
Thankfully, this bar doesn’t fall into the trap of some rooftop venues, and the views aren’t the only attraction. The food and drinks offerings are carefully curated with a common theme: the name Sabine originates from a gull which migrates across the world along with the seasons, and this is exactly what their menu aims to replicate. Just as the bird charts a path from the arctic to the tropics to suit its changing needs, diners can theoretically find something that will cater to their tastes whatever the weather. There are certainly plenty of options to tempt us on a sweltering evening. The cocktail list is laden with fruits and botanicals and leans towards the gin-based tipple – unsurprising for an Instagrammable al-fresco concept. We go for the Whizz Fizz and What the Dickens – the former is a floral spritz made from Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger Gin, elderflower cordial, prosecco and a more daring dash of creme de cassis. The latter is a refreshing celebration of citrus, each sip unpeeling zesty layers of orange and lemon.
Our favourites, though, veer away from the juniper, sitting on opposite ends on the spectrum. The Midsummer Margarita is an elegant ode to a classic, made with Volcan de Mi Terra tequila, cointreau and fresh raspberries – topped with a photogenic sprig of rosemary. The City Tropic, on the other hand, offers something completely different, blending Eminente rum, fig liqueur, passionfruit puree, egg white foam, lime juice and homemade mixed berry syrup for a textured and tantalising affair.
It’s always good news to see proper food being served at a fancy bar, and ever better news when it’s doled out in proper portions. Even the small plates are fit for foodie appetites, though they are still impressively elegant. No evening isn’t improved by Italian dishes, and there’s something eminently pleasing about the act of dipping the spring pea and goat’s cheese arancini into the accompanying pesto and pulling apart the creamy burrata with charred peaches and pistachio pangrattato. Then there’s the asparagus: I have wielded endless spears within the past month, but this is one of the most satisfying, roasted and wrapped in serrano ham, stuffed with bocarones and dipped into a truffle mayo.
The mains are just as satisfying. The Pot of Shiraz-Braised Pork Ribs fall apart beautifully, accompanied by enough focaccia to mop up the rich wine sauce, while the crispy skin of the Grilled Lebanese Chicken Flatbread provides a fatty crunch alongside soft roasted peppers, ezme, tamarind yoghurt and pickled red onion.
When it comes to dessert, it’s a light and summery affair. The strawberry meringue is perfect for the sweet-toothed, but it’s the lemon and elderflower tart that rounds of the evening, a delightful yellow circle whose disappearance mirrors the setting sun (though a fair bit faster). We wish both could stay longer at our table.
Sabine is a destination location that’s likely to lure in all kinds of Londoners, be it for those precious after-work drinks we’ve all been missing or lazy weekends with family and friends. It’s an ideal place to sit back, indulge in a changing seasonal spread and soak up the London skyline.
Photos: Cristiana Ferrauti
To book a table at Sabine, Unit 7 10 Godliman Street London EC4V 5AJ, call 0207 074 1132 or visit their website here.