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

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
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

    Service Charge Accountant

    30,000 to 35,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: We are currently recruiting on...

    Management Accountant

    28,000 to 32,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our client, a hospitality busi...

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive

    £20 - 24k: Guru Careers: A Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive is needed t...

    Day In a Page

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

    Time to stop running

    At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?