Helix at The Gherkin
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A 180-degree-view restaurant up one of London’s most recognisable skyscrapers.
Eating at The Gherkin (or 30 St Mary Axe, as it was officially christened) used to be only for members. Now, it’s open to us norms and run by Searcys, the company behind the St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar. Enter through an airport-style security check and take two lifts to the thirty-ninth floor. Although don’t expect much direction: we almost gatecrashed a retirement insurance event en route.
Let’s get one thing straight: the 180-degree view is epic. We went for dinner, after inky winter darkness had descended and London was a beautiful, blinking Gotham City below. You’ll feel like you’re in a sci-fi movie. But be warned, with nearby skyscrapers being built at lightning speed, the vista by dark can, at times, be obscured by glass and steel. Not a disaster, but if you visit in daylight hours, you’ll also get to take in the river and the ant-like bustlings of people on the street.
The food wasn’t quite so special. There were a few brilliant dishes, like the deep-pink fallow venison with chicory, candied walnuts and fig: a three-pronged attack of bittersweetness, tender flesh and crunch. But others were towering disappointments. Sea bass with slices of pickled octopus was bulldozed by a puddle of indistinguishable black gel while desserts were deconstructed to the point of resembling a toddler’s high-chair tray. A note to those in charge: elaborate trails of biscuit crumbs do not maketh a pud.
There may be more hospitable dining rooms – the canteen-style seating here seemed more fitting for a museum café – but go for the decent-value set lunch (£39 for two courses with a drink) and that vista should tickle your pickle.
The Helix Restaurant, located on level 39 of The Gherkin, offers sky-high contemporary dining with majestic views across the City. A proud celebration of British produce in one of London's finest landmarks. Choose from brunch, lunch or dinner and feel free to head up to the 360-degree Iris Bar for some light bites or a romantic date night.