At the top of 30 St Mary’s Axe, more affectionately known as the Gherkin, you’ll find Searcys private members bar and restaurant. As the Gherkin is my favourite building in London (closely followed by the Shard) I was rather excited to be visiting for lunch.
Upon arrival we were taken through airport style security then up in the lift to the 39th floor and into the dining room. To say the view was sensational would be an understatement – it was unlike any other view in London. Luckily for us the weather couldn’t have been any better so we could see for miles! We were seated at a table by the window and were both left speechless.
A champagne trolley was the first thing to greet us (something I usually hate) but within such beautiful surroundings we HAD to treat ourselves to a glass – we really couldn’t not! Some pork scratchings, tapioca crisps and apple foam quickly followed. The sweet apple foam was a great companion for the crunchy and sticky scratchings; really tasty.
Bread was next and the warm white roll was simple yet delicious. Some delightfully light butter sprinkled with seaweed crumbs was served on a square of Himalayan salt which was a nice touch.
To start my gentleman companion went for the cockles, bread veloutÃ© and suckling pig (Â£12). The cockles were the soft and the pork was tender – both were really enjoyable but it was the bread veloutÃ© that really brought everything together. A little quenelle of white chocolate sorbet which melted into the veloutÃ© was a surprisingly brilliant addition too.
I went for the pigs trotter on toast with trompette and golden raisin purÃ©e (Â£13) which looked utterly stunning. It was a faultless starter; rich moist pigs trotter atop crunchy toast with slices of sharp apple, soft celery and crunchy hazelnuts. There was loads of it too; a really filling and satisfying plate of food.
For main my gentleman companion opted for the pork rolled in hay ash with black olive gnocchi and artichokes (Â£27). Again, this was truly beautiful and just the sort of the food we love eating. The pork, served pink, was moist and tender and the ash it had been rolled in gave a wonderful smokiness. The whole thing was drizzled with a bone marrow sauce which added to this meat treat.
I was equally satisfied with my beef; both rump and cheek with carrot and trompette (Â£26). There was a massive baked white carrot (never had a white one before) which was divine and the red carrot purÃ©e was sweet and silky smooth. The beef cheek fell apart with the lightest touch of my fork and the rump was a reassuring shade of glossy pink. Being a lover of beef this really was my dream dish.
We were then very kindly treated to a cheese course (normally Â£14).The trolley was wheeled over which offered a generous selection of French cheeses – the smell was quite something! The gooey Camembert and a goats cheese from the Loire Valley were my favourites.
Puddings followed suit, my deconstructed strawberry cheesecake (Â£8) was superb. Deconstructed anythings normally annoy the hell out of me – usually because they don’t taste as good as the real thing. But this looked lovely AND tasted brilliant too. The biscuit crumbs were boosted by chunks of honeycomb and the fresh strawberries and strawberry sorbet had been given a hint of basil which was great.
My gentleman companion’s chocolate cremeux (Â£8) was as joyous to eat as it was to look at. The flavour combinations were impossible not to enjoy; banana mousse, peanut ice cream, a thick chocolatey mousse and a salted caramel sauce – heaven! It was plate licking-ly good.
We then got the chance to go into the kitchen and meet head chef Matt Edmonds who was a really lovely guy. Considering he’s only been in the job one month we were bowled over by the quality of the cooking – the food was as good as any one Michelin starred restaurant we’ve experienced. It’s worth noting that a restaurant in a private members club cannot be awarded Michelin stars or AA rosettes.
We finished this rather epic lunch with a drink in the top floor bar which showed an even more impressive view than the dining room. Being at the very top of the Gherkin’s dome, the panoramic views are breathtaking and provided the perfect end to a perfect lunch.
As you might have guessed by now, we were completely in awe of our lunch at Searcys at the Gherkin. It wasn’t just because of the phenomenal view. It wasn’t even the fantastic service; each member of staff we encountered could not have been more charming – in particular the general manager and our sommelier. But it was the food that really got us going; beautifully presented with flavours to match. Wow.
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