Darwin Brasserie review: The best of British with a view at the ‘Walkie Talkie’
I love eating and drinking with a view. Like others, I have to admit I wasn’t quite sure about the 20 Fenchurch Street skyscraper – aka ‘the Walkie Talkie’ – when it was being built. However, with the huge cranes gone from the top, the building doesn’t look quite so walkie talkie like and it’s starting to blend in to the City’s skyline. As many have heard, there is free access to the public garden, although you have to register for a time slot on the website in advance. There are a total of three eating and drinking venues – the Sky Pod Bar, the Darwin Brasserie and Fenchurch (a seafood bar and grill).
I recently booked a weekday late lunch spot for two at the Darwin Brasserie – the name obviously inspired by the plant life in the Sky Garden. With a reservation at one of the restaurants, we were fortunately able to bypass the queue for the public garden and after going through security, were whisked up to Level 35, where the Sky Pod Bar and outdoor balcony is located. To access the Darwin, we wove our way up the stairs and plants to the next level. Darwin is located in a large box-like unit which juts out over the garden with views overlooking the Sky Garden, the Thames and the City.
We arrived at the end of a busy lunch period and had to wait about 5-10 minutes at the bar for our table which wasn’t an issue. We were then shown to a table for two – one seated in standalone chair and the other on a comfy bench. Unfortunately we weren’t by the window so didn’t get to enjoy the views, but planned to walk around the Sky Garden afterwards so that wasn’t a huge problem. Our waiter was very friendly and answered all the questions we had. To start with I ordered a glass of Prosecco which was light and refreshing, while our water glasses were topped up throughout our meal.
I knew I didn’t have the appetite for a three-course meal so forewent the amazing choice of starters to go straight for a main, with the plan to eat dessert later. I ordered the Smoked haddock with Jersey Royal potatoes, which came served with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce (£16.50). The dish was very well presented and was absolutely delicious. The fish was tender and smooth with the accompanying egg, sauce and vegetables really complementing it. Thanks to a combination of my hunger and the taste, I ended up devouring the whole thing pretty rapidly, to the amusement of my fellow diner. My companion ordered the Goodwood Estate Pork Belly with ‘bubble and squeak’ roasted spring vegetables (£17.50), which she said was really good and cooked perfectly. To accompany our dishes we also ordered some Steamed Spinach (£5), which was, again, lovely.
The dessert menu had some good old English classics such as Lemon Tart, Knickerbocker Glory and Rhubarb Crumble. However, I was up for a chocolate fix so ordered the Chocolate Pavé and Banana and Chocolate Ice Cream. While it was certainly sweet and chocolatey, the ice cream balanced it out so it wasn’t too sickly. The presentation was particularly fabulous with some edible golf leaf on top, but I didn’t spend too long admiring it before tucking in.
Overall, the food, service and views were brilliant. I found the prices reasonable for such a high quality of food. The restaurant’s interiors of natural-influenced contemporary design proved for a relaxing setting. Then of course, you have the added bonus of being able to enjoy the views and the scent of the Sky Garden following your meal. I will definitely be returning.
- Darwin Brasserie, Level 36, Sky Garden, 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London, EC3M 3BY. Nearest station: Fenchurch Street or Monument. For more information and booking, visit the Sky Garden website.
For a review on a visit to the Sky Garden, click here.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.