‘You know what this room says to me?’ said Alan Partridge inspecting a bathroom. ‘Aqua. Which is French for “water”.’ That should have been enough to convince any prospective bar owners to avoid the use of such a vapid word for their venue, but it fits here, as Aqua Shard is almost offensively inoffensive in its hotel-lobby harmlessness.
But to notice the decor is to miss the point. The reason to visit, whizzing up 30-odd floors in an escalator, feeling your ears pop and then running a gauntlet of grinning greeters, is to drink in the view. When you can see the North Downs, London looks small but minutely fascinating – and it’s easy to forget there’s a bar behind you, easily forgettable as it is. Cocktails are decent, however, and many come with tea or gin as their base, a doffed cap to Britishness in an otherwise globally unspecific space. If you want to eat, you need to move over to the pricy adjacent restaurant.
Bookings aren’t required, although the earlier you arrive the better your pick of the vistas. To the east, One Canada Square at Canary Wharf winks forlornly, perhaps aware that it’s no longer the tallest building in Britain. Over the river, the clustered extrusions of the City jostle for space; the best seats could be those that look west up the curlicued Thames and towards St Paul’s and the BT Tower.
The appeal of drinking while on high is eternal and even a bit inexplicable, but there’s no denying it. Aqua Shard is not the sort of place you’ll want to visit every week. But to remind yourself how glorious our city can look while getting pissed, go vertical.
Reviewed by Euan Ferguson
|Venue name:||Atrium Bar at Aqua Shard|
31 St. Thomas St
|Cross street:||The Shard|
|Opening hours:||Atrium Bar open noon-1am daily (restaurant open for lunch noon-3pm, Dinner 6-11pm daily)|
|Transport:||Tube: London Bridge tube/rail|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
3.4 / 5
- 5 star:14
- 4 star:8
- 3 star:3
- 2 star:4
- 1 star:8
Amazing views, as you'd expect from the 32nd floor of this extraordinary building, but the service was terrible. After being ignored by the bar staff for 10 minutes, who didn't even make eye contact, I asked to be served (why else did they think I was standing there?). The bar tender then gave me someone else's drink (having charged me for a more expensive one) and took no responsibility for the mistake. Service charge was included, which under the circumstances takes the biscuit.
If you're going for a once in a lifetime experience, literally, then you will love this. If, however you have ever had either a decent meal or decent service before you will be sorely disappointed. Fundamentally the staff treat you like you are likely to only ever come once and as a result they are absolutely right.
We have had this evening the most wonderful experienced at Aqua Shard Bar. The cocktails were exquisite and very fresh. The lady looking after us was a delightful person with a lovely smile. Having had a very dreary March day weather wise, this bar brightened up our evening and we will remember this visit...
Afternoon Tea at the Shard
What a fabulous afternoon we had. The staff were very attentive, ambiance was lovely, views stunning and food plentiful. Thoroughly recommend this special outing
Best Cocktails and bartenders in LONDON!! WOW!! What atmosphere- felt like i had stepped back into prohibition! Jazz music on and the room lighted by London!! Perfect location for any special occasion or even just a quick night cap libation!
Amazing cocktails and service
First impressions of the Aqua Shard were more than I've bargained for. The view was breathtaking, therefore wanted something special from the bar kitchen. Me and my friend was greeted by a very kind waitress Anna, she helped us to find a table and gave spot on recommendations for the drinks. The Independence Sway cocktail and Whiskey Sour were something we haven't experienced before.
To all the guests I recommend to order Independence Sway cocktail,
If you're looking for a special night out with one of the best views in the world you must visit the Shard in Central London The view at night is better than anything you get in any other capital city including New York ! Pre dinner cocktails looking out at some of the worlds most iconic landmarks lite up like Tower Bridge and StPauls Cathedral would make any evening special and we hadn't even got to the table yet! The service is exceptional with descrete and attentive staff and the food is perfectly portioned, presented beautifully, and absolutely delicious I'd recommend the belly pork just wonderfully tasty and succulent After dinner we went back in the lounge to drink in the view and of course a few more cocktails. Why not? I don't care where you are from or where you normally eat out there is no restaurant on the planet to compare
- Visited March 2015
Food and service excellent. Atmosphere super. Pleasant and attentive staff. Would highly recommend.
We were lucky : great view, nice service, even the doorman was very polite and helpful - maybe they changed the people in the service??
Service charge of 12.5% at the bar? What for - can anyone explain? Might go there in the future but it felt a bit snobby there.
Wonderful experience with my bf. Starter, main, dessert, wine. Superb. Will be back shortly to try their cocktails.
Horrible service!! For a restaurant of this class we expected so much more of this place but were bitterly dissapointed. The waiter was very rude and enjoyed barking orders at people and interrupted us on multiple ocassions. The door staff are even worse. They need to spend some of their revenue on training their staff on manners and basic common sense. Go to Oblix next door, it is MUCH much better.
Stunning view but bar staff overworked and unattentive, management, floor staff rude, arrogant and unhelpful. Food average, restaurant wait staff very good
I've been a handful of times now for drinks at Aqua Shard and my review can be found on Trip Advisor.
On the back of my very pleasant experiences at the bar I took clients for lunch last week and must say it was spot on. Not only was everything as expected and better but I thought the set lunch menu represented excellent value for money. Cheap no, see my comment on the Trip Advisor review, great value all considered, yes. The review really is that simple. Get yourself up there and try it for yourself, it is very good. It wont be the best food in London, but it is very good. It wont be cheapest or the most expensive but it is very good value for money. Don't turn up in trainers and shorts (why would you anyway) and you will get in and you will have a very good time. You will get the very best views London has to offer.
If you want the WOW! factor, then Aqua Shard or its sister restaurant Aqua Hutong upstairs are the only show in town! Alighting from the lift on the 32nd floor you walk towards the amazing view of London at your feet with my fave St Paul's centre stage. We had a table right by the window, and the tables are far enough apart that you had privacy. We kicked off with a glass of bubbly each because it was Monday and looked around. London on a sunny summer's day from up high is just so magical, the crowds and traffic seemed far away, and after we felt as if we had been on a trip out of London for the day, not just a lunch. Chose an interesting starter of grey shrimp in a tea jelly with a little avocado to decorate. For the main I went for grilled sardines, plump and tasty. Our friend had raved about the mashed potatoes with whey butter and gravy, on the menu it's called 'Jus' but we're from Essex, we know gravy when we see it. They kindly bought her an extra jug, unasked for,which I thought a lovely touch. She shared them around and I blew my weight watchers points for the week! Rich, buttery, orgasmic - melting in your mouth, we ordered a second portion. Also had the steamed greens as a side, they did nt elicit the same reaction! Gravy girl had the scallops as a main , another friend had the chicken, which was beautifully presented. Then one of us had the David's mess, actually I should say one of us ordered it and we all tried it. Imagine a cocktail glass with a couple of layers of strawberry coulis and Chantilly cream in the bottom, topped by a ball of meringue stuffed with guava sorbet. Another had the citrus parfait which again we tasted, yummy! And I don't even like desserts normally. The service was attentive without being intrusive, the staff themselves the right touch of human and humour! I thought it was amazing value for money, three of us had the lunch menu at £24 for 2 courses and £28 for 3, which would be good value at ground level, with the views I expected the bill to be much higher, no pun intended. The sides are extra but large generous portions, enough to share. And you have to go to the men's loos , even if you are nt a man. Apparently the urinals are up against the window so it's Pee's on high and goodwill to all men! Or get somebody to take a photograph! We loved Aqua so much we decided to make it a regular monthly get together.
The place look stunning with amazing view but the staff's customer service skills were horrendous, very impolite and we waited about 15min at the bar to be served. Also the maitre-d was rude making innapropriate comments, maybe trying to be friendly but no excuses for his behaviour. Would not recommend and no intention of going back there any time soon.
From the moment we walked in for a Sunday meal with our daughter - it was an incredible experience. The service was fantastic ~ discreet but attentive ~ our food was beautifully presented and could not be faulted. My husband actually had a Rib eye steak that was perfectly cooked for him (no easy feat!!!) and tasted amazing when I pinched a piece! We shared a David's Mess which was heavenly. Altogether a wonderful experience in a fantastic setting. For those that seem to have little good to say in their review - I can only surmise that they are so bored they have nothing else better to do - we are both looking forward to coming back!!!
I really enjoyed myself at Aqua Shard, I found the staff polite, the cocktails delicious (the champagne/Jasmine and blue cheese stuffed grape concoction was a perfect Aperitif) and the food delicious. The Time Out reviewer misses the point about the decor, yes it is minimalist - precisely because the view is the thing (anything more opulent would just be guilding the lily) The Sommelier deserves a special mention not only was he charming, but also recommended wine to look out for int the future that suited my palate.
I had the pleasure of dining at Aqua Shard last night with two friends. We are lucky enough to be well travelled and had the opportunity to dine at many high standard restaurants, including Aqua and Hutong in Hong Kong. This restaurant isn't Michelin Star level but it is good quality food considering the price point, as well as the experience - atmosphere, décor and - hello - check out that view! We had the beef tartar, veal tongue and salmon for starters, each of which was very good and a delicate combination of flavours. The mains, steak, wood pigeon and lamb were disappointing (however we didn't feel that they were overpriced). The marmalade and caramelised onions which accompanied the pigeon and steak were excellent. The desserts were exceptional, another level. It's very difficult to find restaurants which pay such attention to detail when it comes to dessert. The British know good puddings and Aqua Shard nailed it. We absolutely loved the blackberry cheesecake and the apricot rice pudding, which we shared. When would you ever say that rice pudding was the best dish of a meal? It's true - light flavours, very creamy, with just the right amount of vanilla. The cheesecake was a very close second, with a crisp biscuit base and delicious deep topping. We loved both the textures and flavours of each dish, a true delight! Over all courses, we cannot fault the attention to detail in presentation, food arrived promptly and hot, and the staff were attentive and polite. We personally thanked the pastry chef who came out to speak with us, it added a very nice touch to the meal. I'm looking forward to going back to try the fish as a main instead.
After my experience with Oblix, the first restaurant to open in the shard I was quite excited to try Aqua, the newest restaurant on the 32nd floor! As soon as my google alert “alerted” me to its opening I booked a table for lunch and off I went today with my soon-to-be family for lunch! Our booking was for 7 and when told our table would only be held for 15 minutes from booking time, we made sure we were there 5 minutes early which proved pointless as we were held in the foyer of the shard until exactly 12.00 with all the other patrons until told we could go up! Greeted warmly, after an ear popping journey to the 32nd floor we were shown to our table, given our menus and proceeded to ohhh and ahhh over the view! The view as you can imagine is spectacular, sweeping views emphasise why london really is the best city in the world! Before we went, I read copious reviews all raving about the food, I cannot rave about any of it (well apart from the buttery mash) so I will just move swiftly on to the presentation which was fabulous! I was somewhat disappointed with the service, one waitress told me no fewer than 3 times that we had the table for only 2.5 hours which was somewhat irritating as the restaurant wasn’t full! Our waiter however was lovely and attentive which was great! Would I go back? Maybe……
Hilarious. Having visited the entire Aqua group of restaurants for several years with my partner, we were surprised to be turned away for wearing 'sports wear'. What a way to ruin the first time my parents and partner met. If anyone can explain to me how Christian Louboutin shoes are considered sportswear (... all things considered, who would go for a jog in them?), then perhaps I would understand why we were turned away. In the meantime, AVOID this place at all costs and turn to Oblix. Unnecessarily argumentative and defensive staff on the door when questioned, with no real reprieve other than "yes, they are probably the best shoes in here tonight".
Had the most delightful lunch here last Saturday. Service was prompt and friendly but not overly fussy, cocktails fresh and interesting, wine list well priced. The food was cooked and seasoned to perfection (we only noticed the lack of salt and pepper on the table when commenting on how it was not required). The confit loch duart salmon simply melted in the mouth, while the rhug estate salt marsh lamb saddle was the best lamb I have eaten in the UK (the little goats cheese wrapped in aubergine were a scrumptious surprise). For dessert - the guava sorbet hidden in Dave's Mess was truly inspired. Will definitely be back. Oh - and the view was nice too
The view is as you would expect is outstanding. However perhaps equally predictably the food was average and overpriced. The service was shocking. I imagine that people will be attracted by the views, I have eaten in a large number of London's upper end restaurants and at present there is no other reason. View superb. Otherwise poor.
Just went for my birthday lunch here with my boyfriend. Tried to call them everyday, 3 times per day, a week before I visit to ask about information but there's no one picking up. Booked the table online and quote for table next to the window as hoping that I could get a good spot for my special day. Arriving there on time and a bit disappoint that staffs told me that they couldn't provide the window-table that I asked for. Me and my boyfriend agreed that we will wait a bit to see if are there any window-table might leave soon. Lucky us, one table just left and we got the spot which we could see Canary wharf and Tower bridge. We ordered set menu for lunch which is £24 for 2 courses and £28 for 3 courses. The set menu price is not too bad for the location and stunning view. We ordered organic salmon for starter, Berkshire crispy pork for main course and raspberry&peanut cream puff+chocolate&coffee cream set for dessert. All the food was beautifully presented. The organic salmon tasted is alright, expected that it would be better tho. The Berkshire crispy pork is the worst one. The portion is really tiny (or maybe I am not get used to posh food) which it made me feel like it's overpriced. There're 2 pieces of pork which is as big as ice cube and a same size of black pudding. I don't like this dish really much because it is tasteless. Desserts are the best one among them. Both of Raspberry&peanut puff and chocolate&coffee cream were delicious. Desserts are bigger portion than main course! In conclusion, the service is ok. Staffs are polite but not really service-minded. They just came to take my order, serving the food, put down the bill and that's it. They didn't really smile and didn't ask if the food was ok or not. The food are average, quite small quantity for main course. My bf needed to get some noodle after this meal as he said this meal didn't really fill him up. The view is stunning but recommend to sit on the side that could see St.Paul as you will see rail tracks which look quite dirty if you sit on Canary wharf view side. PS: We ordered a bottle of still water which is the waiter already took off the cap before he brought the bottle to my table. I found a tiny fly and tiny black thing in my bf glass which I asked waiter to change it. Waiter brought a new bottle for us but 12.5% service charge was still on the bill and it make me feel that it's a bit unfair when this happened. No apologize from them and service charge still.
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