Skylon has been a fixture on the London restaurant scene for years. Located on the rear of the Royal Festival Hall, facing out over the south bank and the Thames, the enormous windows are the restaurants best feature. There are still hints of the original post-war architecture but it has been heavily re-designed inside into a sleek, modern dining space.
Split into two – the front section is a grill/brasserie, while further on represents something closer to ‘fine dining’. The menu is refreshingly simple – there is no a la carte – just order a starter, main and dessert. Dishes are titled just as clearly – lamb, sole, duck etc. The wine list is extensive – we went for a lovely californian Zinfandel.
A complimentary ‘amuse’ started off the meal – small pieces of bread with unremarkable toppings – nice, but by no means special.
To start I had venison carpaccio. The dish was elegantly presented, the meat sliced thinly and the beetroot carefully cut – but it lacked a certain something. It could easily have been beef.
My main was the lamb – I asked for it pink, but it came much closer to medium. The jus was a lovely consistency, if a little light on seasoning. The sweetbreads, however, were excellent; crisply fried and delicious. The griotte marmalade was a nice touch while the chard ‘gratin’ was a bit unnecessary – potato would have worked far better.
Between courses we were brought a hibiscus palate cleanser. The foam was slightly unusual – i’m assuming they’ve used agar agar and I’m not sure it’s worked. While it was very light, the taste was just faintly floral. Citrus would have felt cleaner!
For dessert I opted for their take on a black forest gateaux. This dish certainly stepped up the technicality of the cooking both in terms of technique and textural contrast. Light modernist sponge (gas siphon and a microwave?) with rich cherries, chocolate pieces, almond crumble and a lovely pistachio ice cream. It was clean, precise, and if you like deconstruction – great fun. My only criticism would be a lack of booze – a good slug of kirsch would have transformed the dish.
Skylon is a good restaurant – anything else is just being mean. Service was friendly, if a little slow, and the dining room is gorgeous, if a little loud. They serve food which is refined and elegant, if a little soulless. It’s a study in ‘fine dining’ but makes you miss those who are prepared to push it a little further and let their ingredients sing.