To celebrate their 10th year at the top of the Gherkin, Searcys (a private members club) have opened their restaurant on the 39th floor to the public for seven weeks – hoorah! I was kindly invited along to a preview lunch to see what it’s all about.
My first visit to the Gherkin was a really impressive one, but a lot has changed since then. Gone are the white tablecloths and the champagne trolley; the whole place feels far more relaxed now. What hasn’t changed however is that magnificent view – and it really is worth seeing.
There’ll be a small a la carte menu available priced at £35 for three courses at lunch, £45 at dinner and a tasting menu priced at £70 for ten courses, which is what we opted for.
The first two courses, or snacks, arrived together; ‘watermelon, ginger, lime compression’ and ‘tarragon, fennel, sourdough’. The first was as light and refreshing as it gets; little watermelon balls served atop a block of ice and topped with a sharp lime foam. The latter was a great blend of flavours and textures and it looked really pretty too.
‘Asparagus velouté, sweetcorn ganache’ was a divine couple of mouthfuls; possibly too sweet for some but it was right up my street. The velouté was light and frothy with a subtly asparagus flavour which went perfectly with the sweetcorn ganache.
‘Ham hock, saffron, cauliflower’ was a porky treat – the ham hock was cooked perfectly and served at room temperature meaning the flavour was really strong. Sitting beneath it was a silky smooth cauliflower purée which was lovely.
Next up was ‘scallop, Jersey Royal, pea, broad bean’. The scallop coral (that bright orange bit that I don’t normally like eating) had been dehydrated, ground up and then sprinkled over one side of the scallop whilst cooking, which gave the dish an intense seafood aroma which was great. I’m not sure the potato was needed but the broad beans and tiny cubes of tomato made for a real taste of Summer.
Next was one of my favourite dishes; ‘red mullet, bouillabaisse, bread foam’. The mullet was cooked to perfection and the bouillabaisse (traditionally a French seafood stew) was light and creamy yet packed full of flavour.
A rocket and basil sorbet with a red onion granita followed, which was most unusual. I had a rocket velouté at The Waterside Inn once and loved it – anyone who can make a liquid out of a salad leaf is really rather clever. Here it was herby yet sweet and seriously refreshing.
The most simple of all the dishes but one which was probably the best was ‘Herdwick best end of lamb, ratte potato, mushroom’. A chunk of soft tender lamb, a big dollop of mashed potato and some spinach with mushrooms all topped with a meaty ‘jus’ which was probably the best bleedin’ sauce I’ve ever eaten – this was a truly faultless dish.
‘Pineapple consommé, coconut’ was the first of two desserts and it was a real delight. The coconut sorbet was a brilliant pairing for the small chunks of pineapple and crystal clear consommé. The ‘strawberry, champagne jelly’ was a thing of beauty; both to look at and eat. It was the perfect end to a great lunch.
We absolutely loved our visit to Searcys at the Gherkin and before you say anything, that’s not because I’m a freeloading effing blogger, it’s because the whole experience up there is so special. The building itself, the view (which has to be the best in London), the food and the utterly charming service – they’ve got it all so right. You can even have a drink at the bar after your meal, which is at the very very top, giving a 360° view of London – it’s amazing. Whilst you’ve got the chance, you really should go.
I dined as a guest of the restaurant