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

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
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

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
    Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

    The end of an era across the continent

    It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
    Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

    'Focus on killing American people'

    Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
    Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

    Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

    The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
    Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

    Same-sex marriage

    As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
    The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

    The Mafia is going freelance

    Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable