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Our little black book of enchanting places


Garden supper in the sky

Posted in FOOD + DRINK By Maggie O' Sullivan


When Sky Garden – the self-proclaimed 'highest public garden in London' – opened at the top of the Walkie Talkie building last year, it was greeted with a degree of criticism. It’s certainly true that the lushly planted terraced gardens are not exactly Kew and, given that visits must be booked in advance, they’re not exactly public either. But treat the exotic greenery as a verdant backdrop for the two restaurants, two bars and viewing terraces, and Sky Garden really is a magical place to spend an evening, with better views, I reckon, than the Shard.We booked a table in Darwin Brasserie on the 36th floor. Bypassing the queue snaking through the lobby (you can access the Sky Garden’s restaurants and bars without a reservation, though you may have to wait), we took the express lift to the 35th floor. There we stepped into something that resembled a cross between an airport terminal and a cocktail bar: acres of plate glass edged with pink neon. Making our way to over to the left, we were momentarily disoriented: expecting to be looking up river, we found ourselves gazing east, over the freshly scrubbed Tower of London and the City (William the Conqueror would surely have given his eye teeth for this bird's eye view of his castle). Dusk was settling over the capital – and I’ve never seen it look so beautiful. Up past tree ferns and fig trees we went to Darwin Brasserie, where our waiter, Mario, announced he was there to make our evening perfect and might he suggest we tried his favourite cocktail, a pink concoction of gin, Solerno, blood orange syrup, lemon and raspberries called a Martinique?We did as Mario advised (delicious). Then somehow we all ended up having the same main course – roast stone bass with parsnip purée, creamed Savoy cabbage, pancetta and red wine jus – but I won’t bore you with every morsel that passed our lips: suffice to say it was all beautifully done and not extortionately expensive (our bill came to around £52 a head, including wine and cocktails).We ended our evening with a stroll up to the highest restaurant on the 37th floor and another gawp at the magnificent view, this time looking west, up the river. By the time we left the building at around 9.45pm, the queue had completely disappeared so if you haven’t got a reservation, my tip would be to arrive late or go for a drink after dinner elsewhere – it’s open until 1am.

Sky Garden, 20 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 8AF; see website for details of opening times and to make a reservation 

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