Aqua own two restaurants inside the Shard; Hutong a Northern Chinese inspired restaurant on the 33rd floor and Aqua Shard which serves contemporary British food on the 31st. I was super excited to be invited to a preview night at the latter, along with my gentleman companion.
We started with drinks in the bar and lounge area which is a rather beautiful space. Not only are you faced with a breathtaking view but due to the windows being three floors high you get a view like no other in London, I would have gladly stayed there sipping cocktails all night.
The dining room is just as pretty (with smaller windows however) and luckily for us, the tables for two are right up against the window so you get more of that amazing view.
I decided to start with the hand cut County Rose beef tartare with spicy mayonnaise, Bloody Mary jelly and “Shard scotch egg” (£13.50). The raw beef was soft and full of flavour and the spicy mayonnaise packed quite a punch. The Shard scotch egg contained prawn instead of sausage meat – a fishy scotch egg. It tasted better than it sounds and was a brilliant and unusual accompaniment.
My gentleman companion went for the green pea custard, seared foie gras, Jersey Royal salad and Horn of Plenty sauce (£14). Don’t worry, I had no idea what Horn of Plenty was either – but apparently it’s a mushroom – and in this case it made for a delicious sauce. This was a really flavourful dish; every element blending together perfectly. The foie gras melted on my tongue like butter.
For main, I opted for the 250g Yorkshire rib-eye steak with bearnaise sauce (£33). It was a big ol’ chunk of meat and it was served perfectly medium-rare – that’s the only way to have a steak right?! The meat was tender and juicy and the little pockets of fat provided plenty of meaty flavour. I would have left off the slightly bland carrot and horseradish remoulade but the sweet shallot jam was a great accompaniment.
My gentleman companion went for the Rhug Estate salt marsh lamb saddle with aubergine, goat’s cheese, red pepper, young garlic, fondant potato and lamb jus (£26). The lamb was pink and succulent with a crispy fatty crust and the fondant potato was totally buttery. The goat’s cheese wrapped in aubergine provided a tangy Mediterranean flavour.
Both sides dishes; steamed greens with almonds and the mashed potato with whey butter and beef jus (both £4.50) were perfect. How do you make velvety smooth, buttery mash taste even better? You pour beef jus over it that’s how!
Puddings both hit the spot too. The milk chocolate and orange mille-feuille with toasted peanuts (£7.50) was a decadently chocolatey treat. But it was the wild strawberries and cream with Scottish shortbread and rosewater jelly (£7.50) that really got me going. It looked beautiful and was so light and refreshing.
I do love a good loo and the urinals in the gents definitely deserve a mention here; they’ve got to be the best toilets in London! The view as you ‘do your business’ is seriously phenomenal!
We then retired back to the bar area and continued to guzzle cocktails – I would thoroughly recommend the Yellow Parrot which features Absinthe, Yellow Chartreuse and apricot brandy. We really enjoyed our time at Aqua Shard. The food was fairly straight forward and simple but it was perfectly executed and featured yummy flavours. The staff were really friendly and attentive which ensured we left with massive smiles on our faces. I couldn’t recommend it enough.