Friday, 19 July 2013

Aqua Shard, London

The Shard, London

The Shard, designed by award winning architect, Renzo Piano, spans 72 floors and is the tallest building in Western Europe rising 310m (1016 ft) above the London skyline.

The two latest culinary offerings at the iconic Shard building in London are from the Hong Kong based Aqua restaurant group.  Aqua Shard reviewed here offers contemporary British cuisine from the 31st floor whereas Aqua Hutong (one floor up) is top quality Chinese.  
The location is undeniably stunning with incredible 360 degree views of London further enhanced by the use of copious glass and mirrors to provide a spacious and light interior with incredible views from almost every angle.  Attention to detail is obvious from table positioning to the use of glass walled 'private' dining areas to reduce noise but maximise light. Even the urinals in the Gents have been strategically placed to maximise the view !

Aqua Restaurant Group is the brainchild of ex-Credit Suisse Finance Lawyer, David Yeo and his silent partner, Richard Ward.  They now boast 21 restaurants spread across London, Hong Kong and Beijing, each featuring elegant decor and exciting venues in keeping with David's vision.  They have plans to open more as they move onwards and upwards from their humble beginnings in Hollywood Road, Hong Kong in 2000.  

Iconic settings can often lead to a disappointing eating experience whereby the venue draws the customers so the food is secondary.  However, in the case of Aqua Shard I can vouch that, in my experience, this is not the case.  Chef Anthony Garlando, protege of Michelin 3-star chef Pierre Gagnare, does not disappoint in terms of menu selection, presentation and flavour. We opted, of course, for seafood and I can honestly say that it was some of the best I have ever tasted so the elegant surroundings and stunning views were a real bonus.

Loch Duart Salmon
Grilled Octopus & Mackerel
For starters we had Confit of Loch Duart Salmon with Dorset Crab, Avocado, Pepper Puree, Courgette and Oscietra Caviar. Beautifully crafted it was a delight on the eye and on the palate.  The delicate flavour of this superb salmon combined perfectly with a generous quenelle of the crabmeat and the salty spark of the caviar.  Our other starter was Grilled Octopus and Scottish Mackerel with Tomato Sorbet, Pickled Shallots, Aubergine Dressing and Crispy Potato.  The flavours were more intense in this starter but the combination of the tomato sorbet with the lightly cooked mackerel was perfect and the texture of the grilled Octopus added yet another dimension to this flavourful dish.  The addition of fresh herbs such as Sorrel was another sign of Chef Garlando's skill.

Dover Sole

Roasted Halibut

Our mains were Roasted Halibut and Grilled Dover Sole. The halibut was served on a bed of cockles with pumpkin, Swiss chard and a grilled langoustine.  The Dover Sole was served on the bone but was perfectly skinned and trimmed.  It came with an interesting combination of cubes of Iberico ham, cuttlefish, broad beans and a light foamy sauce of Luscombe Devon Cider. The combination of sweet and salty worked well with the firm meaty texture of the sole.  

All-in-all Aqua Shard was a memorable experience which we would like to repeat soon.  Prices are what you would expect for an up-market restaurant but still represent value for money when you consider the quality.  The view is a real bonus for free !

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