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An afternoon at the Sky Garden

19 January 2015

image from An afternoon at the Sky Garden

Last weekend I took a trip to the Sky Garden, London’s newest viewing platform and highest public garden, inside 20 Fenchurch Street (better known as The Walkie-Talkie building for its distinctive shape).

The great thing about the Sky Garden is that it’s free to visit - you just need to book a ticket in advance via the website. This is incredible when you consider that it costs £24.95 for an adult to visit The View from The Shard, and the views are very similar. In some ways, I’d argue that the view from the Sky Garden is actually better.

After a ticket check (you need to show photo ID) and an airport-style security screening we were whisked up to to the top of the building via an express lift and stepped out into a viewing area with outstanding panoramic views across the city.

The Sky Garden spans three floors, landscaped gardens line the left and right sides with a cafe, bar and restaurants in the middle. There’s also an outdoor terrace but unfortunately this wasn’t open.

After doing a loop of the area and taking lots of photos we decided to get some lunch at Darwin Brasserie. We would have preferred to try Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill, their fine dining offering, but this was closed during our visit. We were seated right away (despite not having a reservation) at a table with an excellent view looking out towards Canary Wharf. We noticed there were still a few tables available even though it was peak lunch hour on a Sunday.

Darwin offers an extensive cocktail menu so we both ordered one to start.

We decided to skip starters and just go straight to mains. Unfortunately we waited for over an hour for our food to arrive. Thankfully we weren’t in a rush and not especially hungry, but we were quite surprised and disappointed with the wait time nonetheless. At one point the waiter did come over to say our food was on the way but we were not offered anything else during the wait. Even if they had just offered us some bread it would have been a nice gesture.

The food, when it did finally arrive, was good but not mind-blowing. Sadly my first choice from the menu, spinach and ricotta tortellini, had already sold out for the day so I opted for a beef burger and chips. When I placed the order the waiter had asked if I would like it to be cooked medium, which I confirmed, but it was definitely more on the medium-well side. I didn’t mind this as the meat was didn’t taste dry at all, but the burger was a bit messy to eat with juices pooling on the plate.

My partner had ordered a roast beef which is a special they only offer on Sundays. Unfortunately he found his dish to be undercooked and asked to send it back to the kitchen, to which the waiter willingly obliged. He was much happier with the meal when they brought it back out about 10 minutes later.

We decided not to order dessert, I was feeling quite full already and we didn’t want to risk another long wait. Perhaps because the restaurant is still new they have a few teething problems and I do hope they can improve the speed at which food is sent out from the kitchen. It’s a shame because the restaurant is in such a nice setting.

We took one last walk around the garden before heading back down to ground level. The sun had started to come out more in the afternoon so the views were even better than when we’d first arrived. I’d definitely love to come back here again once they open up the outdoor terrace and perhaps enjoy a drink or two but would probably choose to dine elsewhere.

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