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Helix at The Gherkin

Restaurants, Contemporary European City of London
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(15user reviews)
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Venue says Book our lunch set menu, which runs Monday to Saturday and includes a glass of prosecco, wine, non-alcoholic cocktail or Freedom lager.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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.

Helix at The Gherkin says
There are few spots on the London landscape as striking as Searcys at The Gherkin, where a taste of the high-life awaits. Pair high-end design with vintage cuvees and contemporary cooking, all while enjoying panoramic views from the top three levels of one of London’s most iconic skyscrapers. Searcys introduces HELIX Restaurant; now open to the public.

HELIX Restaurant open to the public for the very first time, offering sky-high contemporary dining at both lunch and dinner with majestic views across the city. A proud celebration of British produce in one of London’s finest landmarks, the menus put seasonal and local produce centre stage. Perched high above the city, IRIS Bar offers epic 360° views to the public, from 11am to 11pm.

By: Megan Carnegie

Posted:

Details

Address: 30 St Mary Axe
The Gherkin
London
EC3A 8EP
Transport: Tube: Aldgate
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £170.
Contact:
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Users say (15)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

3.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:5
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|15
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Tastemaker

Another restaurant with a view ticked off my list. I once queuing for hours during the Open House only to get a minute of time to look around, so getting a lunch at Searcy’s seemed like a better option to enjoy the panorama. We were lucky to get a table by the window and the view didn’t disappoint. But I was a bit underwhelmed with the rest.

First of all, it’s quite laud. It’s not that big but extremely tall so the sound reverberates quite strongly. On a few occasions I had to lean towards my colleague to hear what he’s saying.

The service was a bit too serious, not very warm, I felt as if we were served by an army. They were efficient, but because of their seriousness, it made me a bit nervous.

As for the food, my artichoke and truffle soups was deliciously creamy and flavoursome. The presentation was nowhere near to how they present the dishes on the website. Two of my companions ordered a smoked salmon as a starter. It was three small slices placed on a bare plate with just two blobs of sauces on the other side.  I think a 9 year old would have done a better job presenting this dish.

For the main I ordered a cod with mussels and spinach. It was very well cooked, but sounded more exciting on paper.

The cocktails list is impressive, each description has about 4 lines, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into the complexity of their flavours.

All in all, I would recommend it for a business lunch, but not necessarily for a romantic meal. There are many cosier restaurants these days with a stunning view, this one was just a bit  too ‘cold’ for my liking.

tastemaker

Given the unique location of this restaurant (the Gherkin is one of the few iconic, truly unique restaurant locations in London), we were so looking forward to trying the four course brunch menu here one Sunday.

Upon arrival,  we were greeted by a member of staff to say service was running a little behind – this was fine was we got to experience the upstairs Iris bar (arguably a better vantage point than the restaurant as it is a 360 view right at the top, beneath the apex / glass dome). Once seated, the restaurant was actually a lot smaller than we expected, taking up around a third of the floor

By this time of day (the last seating session of the day), some of the courses weren’t available so we had to make alternative choices – for starters, you share a platter of breads and so-so pastries – for the first course we opted for a cold meat platter (plentiful but average quality – less and more quality would be better) and the salmon on sour dough (delicious).

For mains, we had the Eggs Arlington and Bavette steak with egg – both nice and easily the best course. For desserts, we had chocolate ganache tart and eton mess – the latter had next to no meringue, likely due to the end of a busy brunch session, for the same reasons that several of the dishes we wanted were no longer available.

As for the service, it started off well if not a little chaotic (e.g. they asked us for our name on three separate occasions whilst we were waiting for a table), but petered out after the main course – we had to wait around 30 mins to order our dessert after our main dishes had been taken.

All in all, this is worth a visit purely for the location, although based on the underwhelming food and service, we’d likely opt to just go for a drink at in the Iris bar next time.

tastemaker

This was our second visit to Searcys, but unfortunately it failed to live up to our very humble expectations. We have been to Searcys during the day before and the view was great. However, if you go there in the dark, the light inside is really bright. This means that all you see is the reflection against the glass and none of the view outside. Moral of the story - If you're planning on going here for a drink, make sure it's still bright outside.

tastemaker

I love the Gherkin in terms of how it looks on the skyline. Such a funky looking tower. Inside you get great views but it’s not good for photos as the cross cross window styles and curved glass means you can’t get a full view and often in pics you just get a reflection of yourself. Gutted! The main view from the restaurant is just the surrounding towers now also so not the best.

The restaurant is lovely though. It’s definitely a special occasion site. The staff are very attentive and food is presented beautifully. It’s not quite up there with the Ritz but I did really enjoy my gherkin meal.

tastemaker

This was the last stop on our journey for Searcys' 170th birthday event. We were served a glass of rosé champagne along with a champagne flavoured homemade macaron as we settled in. I thought this was quite unique and interesting in taste, as I've never had rosé champagne before! It was less sweet and not as brut as regular champagne, and complemented the dessert well. On the other hand, the macaron itself was nothing special - it didn't taste like champagne and in fact, didn't taste of much at all. It did have a good texture - a crisp outer shell and a soft and slightly chewy interior. 


This bar had a clear view of Tower Bridge, which I thought was beautiful. However, as we reached this stop past 9pm, it was already rather dark so the view wasn't as spectacular as I imagine it to be during the day. I did like that we could walk almost all the way around so get different angles of London's skyline. It's a large yet comfortable and cosy space with soft couch chairs, tables to have your drinks and bar snacks (or dessert in our case!), and waiters and waitress who were absolutely lovely! 


Definitely worth a visit and possibly ideal for a special event - eg. anniversary, birthday, date. 

Tastemaker

I've been lucky enough to visit Searcys on a number of occasions and I have never been disappointed. Obviously the view is incredible but i have always found the food and the service to be of an equally high standard.


It's not cheap by any stretch of the imagination but it is certainly worth it for the experience.


It is worth bearing in mind that because the restaurant is located in a high security building you will need to have identification to access the building.

Tastemaker

Obviously the view is astonishing. And the cocktails are inventive and expertly made. At the same time, the drinks are expensive (cocktails start at £11.50), and there are odd details that don't align with those prices, such as the plastic chairs in the bar. You might be better off going to the walkie talkie's sky garden nearby, which is buzzier and allows for a view of the gherkin!

tastemaker

I love this place. I had brunch with a couple of my friends on a sunny day. We were sat by the window and the view was fantastic. Our table was overlooking Tower 42, the Cheese Grater and the buildings beyond. I had Tuna as my appetizer, lamb as main course, and chocolate ice cream for dessert. The tuna appetizer had thin slices of tuna on a bed of pickled cucumber. The sweet/ sour and salty flavour were well balanced. The lamb main course consisted of 2 small lamb cutlets, they were well cooked and tasty. Price was quite steep for the small portion of food, but the view, the delicious food and the restaurant ambience were worth it. After lunch, we were shown to the bar upstairs to enjoy our after dinner tea/coffee. The bar is stylish with 360 degree view of London skyline and live piano playing in the background. I would recommend this place for a special occasion.


Tastemaker

I had high expectations of this place but was really disappointed considering their reputation. My crab starter had not been prepared to order and had obviously been prepared well in advance as the crab had set and congealed and the plate was really cold. For my main course I had steak which was nice but small. I can't remember what I had for my pudding so it obviously wasn't that memorable. The view is amazing but is not enough to carry the below par service and the ok food. 

Tastemaker

Went on a work lunch paid for by a client (have to take the perks when I can!) so was able to enjoy without worrying about the cost - although the lunch time 3 courses for £40 is very good value for the quality of the food, service and astounding view.  I felt the food (chose the Venison) was as good as anything I've eaten in London and the waiters were very attentive and accommodating, even getting us some off-menu drinks.  Will definitely return for a special occasion.


This is more a review of the Private Member's club but i'm posting it anyway as member's can take guests in with them AND pre-book guests in even without them in attendance.


This is a really cosy, quiet space away from the hubbub of the main Searcys, A calm oasis underneath the dome with comfortable seating, delicious table food, and of course THAT VIEW. There are two private dining rooms for special events.


We have the Nachos (no scrimping on the toppings here!), a charcuterie plank, 2 different pates, and rillettes, chorizo in red wine, and chops wih shaved truffle. All of it was delicious.


I also mark a bar on how they do a simple G&T, not just their cocktails.. Searcy's scored the perfect 5/5 for its Tanquery10, Fever Tree and wedge of pink grapefruit.


I enjoyed this venue so much, i'd seriously consider joining


Went there specifically for the Sky Riviera experience but on entering thought to myself... it doesn't look like what it says on the tin other than the fact they had a postcard about it... Architecturally, this is pretty awesome and depending on where you get sat, you can get a pretty good view but the NatWest building was in the way of a what turned out to be a beautiful red sunset.  Food wise... nothing to shout home about and relatively small portions... but does the job.  We made the mistake of ordering a glass of champagne each - the cost of which is ridiculous but completely expected but we still baulked at it!  I'd have to say the service was friendly if a little forgetful... for example, I was served my friend's lamb dish even though I told them I was vegetarian.  We were then given dessert menus, even though we had already pre-ordered that at the start.  All in all - I'd go once with my own wallet... the view and circular structure is most definitely worth it.

tastemaker

Just walking into the building itself it is quite spectacular! Architecturally is nothing short of impressive, and view from the top is amazing. Eventhough the restaurant and chapmagne bar are very elegant, the atmosphere isn't stuffy and staff is friendly. Champagne bar offers a variety of delicious snacks, besides the obvious- champagne and breath-taking views. Can’t wait to visit this place again!


We went for Mid-Afternoon Mezze which was a twist on traditional afternoon tea. The building is amazing and the views are brilliant but I'm afraid that's when the compliments end....


We were seated and served our food pretty quickly, but it soon became obvious that the food must have been sitting out for a while. Lukewarm, dried out falafel, soggy sardine on bread and babaganoush which was just disgusting. The deserts weren't much better. Moroccan food should be vibrant and flavourful, this all just tasted of nothing much, with some dishes like the chickpea salad just tasting so sickly sweet. For four people the bill came to £180 (they add £20 service charge) which was absolutely ridiculous for the quality of food that was served. We complained to the manager who was very angry and not apologetic in the slightest, although he did eventually wipe the food cost off of the bill. If you want a special dining experience with a view go to the Shard!

moderatorStaff WriterTastemaker

Wow, stunning venue and fantastic food. We went for the 10-course tasting menu and it was superb.