I was rather excited about going for lunch at Oblix with my family, the first restaurant to be opened in the Shard building in London Bridge (currently the tallest building in Europe). It’s a Rainer Becker restaurant (founder of Zuma and Roka) but his new venture stays away from Japanese cooking and instead, Oblix is inspired by the grills of New York.
As we arrived on the 32nd floor and walked through the open plan kitchen we were taken aback by the view, it was beautiful. The restaurant itself was a bit non-descript and slightly reminiscent of a canteen but I suppose that was the intention so as to not detract from the view.
We were first seated in a raised booth at the back which didn’t have a particularly good view (we could have been anywhere) but we were kindly moved to another table by the window no problem. It must be hard for a restaurant that’s high up to please everyone as no-one wants a bad seat; the view being the main reason for most people’s visit.
Some warm olive bread with salted butter started things off well. A crunchy crust and soft spongy centre, lovely.
The menu was large with plenty of choice but it didn’t all come cheap. We hadn’t spotted that it said all dishes were for sharing so between the four of us we ordered our own starters, mains and sides; we wish our waiter would have explained this to us.
My sister’s starter of smoked salmon flatbread, cream cheese and chives (£12) was mahoosive and would have been big enough for all of us. The combination of cream cheese and smoked salmon will always be a winner; here the addition of peppery rocket was thoroughly enjoyable.
The grilled diver scallops, sweetcorn and black pepper with rocket butter (£16.50) seemed too small to be a sharing plate and was more a small starter sized portion. For 16 quid I’d have wanted more than three scallops too. They were however cooked perfectly and tasted delicious.
The seared beef, lime, chilli, garlic and ginger dressing (£12) looked very pretty indeed. The dressing packed a vibrant punch of tangy flavour and the beef was really tender. Again though, I wasn’t convinced it was a sharing dish.
The other, more major problem we encountered during our lunch was that the dishes came out as and when they were ready – but no-one had explained this was going to be the case. My sister had nearly finished her salmon flatbread before my Dad’s scallops had arrived – it all seemed to be rather confused.
The first main course to arrive was the veal chop with gremolata (£32) and although it was some of the best veal I have ever eaten, I had finished eating it before any of the side dishes had arrived. It was a big ol’ chop which had an almost sweet and sticky sage crust on top and I loved every mouthful. It was an utterly divine piece of meat. I was just disappointed that it cost £32 yet I couldn’t eat it with anything else.
The French fries (£5) were more like thick cut chips than fries and were a little bit grease laden, perfectly seasoned though.
Next to come out, on its own, was roasted cauliflower, almonds and caper berries (£6). It was overcooked and therefore mushy, and there was a brothy liquid at the bottom which only added to the sogginess. My Dad really liked it however – he must be used to my Mum’s cooking!
From the rotisserie, and more reasonably priced, the rosemary chicken and skordalia (£16) was really good. Skordalia is a Greek dip a bit similar to bread sauce and in this case it was identical. The chicken was moist and succulent with the perfume of rosemary coming through in every bite.
Roasted mushrooms and parsley (£7) were cooked well and were as buttery as you could wish for but seemed a little on the expensive side. £7? For mushrooms?
The macaroni and cheese (£4.50) was the all round winner of the side dishes. It was creamy, cheesy and above all gooey. Just how I like it.
For dessert my Mum went for the cookie jar (£6) which was exactly that; a jar filled with biscuits and cookies. The poppy and sesame seed biscuits stood out as they were most unusual and the mango macaroon was disappointingly tasteless but all in all it was a great selection and good value.
The coconut semi-freddo, passion fruit and mango (£8) looked pretty but the semi-freddo (posh for ice cream) lacked its promised coconut flavour and instead tasted almost cheesy. The addition of basil leaves and a basil sorbet made it taste like you were eating mozzarella and tomato with pesto. A rather bizarre pudding.
The strawberry and rhubarb pavlova (£8) was tasty but I could have just done without the slightly chewy rhubarb. The meringue was good but lacked that deep chewiness I longed for and there was a weird pool of liquid at the bottom of the plate scented with rose water that I could have done without too.
Two scoops of ‘crunchy pecan bourbon’ ice cream (£2.50 a scoop) served in individual bowls were delicious; the sort you’d gladly eat a whole tub of to yourself!
Even though the food came out in no order whatsoever and it really didn’t seem like it was designed for sharing, we actually really enjoyed our lunch. Yes, it took three hours to serve three course but the sun was shining, the view was superb and we felt like we were on holiday. Service was friendly and charming but I just wish our waiter had explained the menu and the concept to us in detail.
I appreciate that Oblix still may be finding their feet and if this had happened during their soft launch then I might have been more forgiving. But when you’re paying £32 for a veal chop and you have to eat it with no accompaniment, then something’s not quite right there.