Among the Clouds….Claire Meadows on Sky Garden’s Darwin Brasserie

After Nyne’s heads were well and truly in the clouds last Friday as we embarked on our much-anticipated trip to Sky Garden.

Reviews have been mixed on the lack of verdant appeal at what is marketed as London’s highest green space – 20 Fenchurch Street, or the ‘WalkieTalkie’.  But we are clearly more interested in the dining experience than the surrounding greenery.

We wanted to leave enough time for the initial opening rush to die down before we visited Darwin, the brasserie, and one of three gastronomic options operated onsite by catering/events company Rhubarb, which is why we’ve only just reviewed.

Impressive security measures carried out, we were whisked up in seconds to the 35th floor. Head rush. We don’t do heights at the best of times but once you get up there it is truly, truly staggering. The maligned greenery is a little underwhelming but given time to grow it will be fine.

Darwin’s staff were accommodating from the off – slick, professional, unobtrusive but present. The dining room bustled with activity, and an air of satisfaction pervaded.

We settled in with pre-drinks..including a delightful fig-syrup based cocktail served in a white boulder, which was just precious.

The menu was brasserie in tone, covering a wide range of standards – oysters, prawn cocktail, steak. We plumped, from a range of many favourites, for oysters and plaice for my companion, and carpaccio and Cornish lamp rump for me.

Darwin can pride itself on delivering first class excellence in its execution of all of these dishes. There wasn’t a bum-note – the oysters were fresh as could be, the carpaccio tender, light and flavoursome. The boned plaice gleamed white, dotted with savoury brown shrimps while my lamb was the finest thing I’ve eaten in a very long time.

Our lack of head for heights was somewhat settled by the aforementioned fig cocktail and a particularly fine house sauvignon, which left us taking in the stunning views from Darwin without feeling queasy

Other reviews we have seen have commented on the lack of adventurousness in Rhubarb’s menu choices. After Nyne says if you can execute standards this well, and this professionally, envelope-pushing would be unnecessary and for me in particular – unwelcome.

Our mains were fulfilling but light, leaving room for a vanilla-rich creme brûlée and a delightfully tart rhubarb crumble.

We have already made plans to go back for dinner – the thought of Darwin’s standard of food and service, coupled with a night-time vista of the world’s most magnificent city has us trembling in anticipation.


Darwin Brasserie

Sky Garden

20 Fenchurch Street