Oblix, Level 32, The Shard, London

 

"So, I go to London Bridge Station," I said to the Oblix phone lady. "Then what?"

"You're kidding aren't you?" she replied. "You look up in the air…"

"I'm not asking the location of the Shard," I said coldly. "I want to know how to get into your restaurant without paying the building's £25 entrance fee."

"No problem," she said, "You just go down the escalator, to find the lift."

It's all ups and downs, getting to Oblix. You stand gawping up at what seems like several thousand miles of shiny steel (about as welcoming as a medieval fortress) before heading for the entrance. Three doormen murmurously discover your intentions, and whisperingly suggest you take the escalator, then ask (discreetly) at the bottom.Downstairs, you find three more laconic bouncers who (hesitantly) direct you to the third of three doors. Yet another doorman inscrutably directs you to the lift, which whizzes you up 32 floors at warp-factor 19…

Suddenly everything's different. Gone is the blank, sheeny unapproachability of the exterior. You're in what feels like an Aztec pyramid, with earth-coloured slabs and flickering candles. A handmaid in an hourglass frock guides you through the gloom, into the blinding radiance of the Oblix restaurant.

It's some trick to pull off, steering the luncher from darkness into dazzle. The drama continues as you approach the windows, walking past meat cabinets, displays of fruit and vegetables. The view from the 32nd floor is terrific (what's that cruise liner doing beside HMS Belfast?) but the room is lovely, the décor light and airy. We were seated in a booth yards from the windows, but ceased to care after a minute.

Oblix is the latest venture from Rainer Becker, the German wunderkind who cut his teeth as executive chef at the Hyatt chain, before starting Zuma in Knightsbridge and Roka in Charlotte Street with his Indian business partner Arjun Waney. Both restaurants offered top-level Japanese cooking, and spawned siblings from Hong Kong to Miami. So it was surprising to find the Oblix menu almost wilfully mainstream Occidental.

Starters offer little that you haven't tried before (burrata, steak tartare, aubergine caviar) but offer unusual treatment – like lobster and scallop ceviche with jalapeno, coriander and sweet pepper. And the mains – well, you can choose your cooking method from the rotisserie, the grill and the josper oven. Becker has declared he was inspired by a classic New York grill and that's what you get here, presided over by Fabien Beaufour of Eleven Madison Park: classily handled comfort food.

Angie's sliced yellow tail tuna came with a sweetie-counter display of red and green peppers, onion, ginger and mustard seeds in a ponzu dressing. "Exquisite," she said, "and very Zuma." New England clam chowder was accompanied by a mini-loaf of olive sourdough, an inspired coupling. The soup's senses-flooding creaminess was flecked with spring onion and celery, the white crabmeat given a whisper of citric subtlety; the bread was very wolf-downable.

Into view came the appealing figure of Alessandro Marchesan, Becker's group wine honcho, a charming enthusiast who explained that all Oblix wines are available by the glass (even the really posh ones) and pointed out the restaurant's Wine-Buff Huddle Corner, where serious oenologists can gather around a stone slab and discuss vintages and viscosity. He found us a viognier from the Seresin vineyard in New Zealand, which was heavenly.

I couldn't resist a rib-eye steak from the fancy grill: it was handsome, glistening and toothsomely charred but came sliced up like a Tuscan tagliata. This, said Alessandro, was because "all dishes are designed to be shared," a déclassé idea in such an upscale establishment.

Angie's rotisseried rosemary chicken scented with skordalia – bread sauce with aioli – packed a double punch. Tenderstem broccoli with chilli lemon rind, and a terrific dish of cauliflower roasted with almonds and caper berries, both lifted the proceedings. We were eating steak, chicken, broccoli and cauliflower; it was amazing how interesting they made it.

We finished lunch with a classic New York cheesecake (very light-textured) and some yummy basil ice-cream, washed down with Torcolato liqueur.

There's no doubt Oblix will be a massive hit with diners – in here or in the adjoining live-music-and-cocktails bar – able to look down on London's dazzling Nighttown. At lunchtime, the view is the least remarkable thing about it.

Food ****
Ambience ***
Service *****

Oblix, Level 32, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London SE21 (020-7268 6700). About £170 for two, with wine

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - York

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - Y...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us