Free as a bird
As a new rooftop restaurant opens near Liverpool Street, Emma Levine tucks into Sunday lunch and takes in the views
Two huge peacocks adorn the top of the transparent stairwell in the rooftop restaurant at the new Montcalm Royal
London House hotel. Hovering overhead is an enormous white birdcage, with myriad birds perched on the outside. All the creatures are stuffed and very lifelike – appropriate, of course, for a venue named Aviary.
From the inside, views in three directions take in City landmarks including the Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe) and the Walkie-Talkie (20 Fenchurch Street). But the real gem, especially in summer, is the restaurant’s large decked terrace with its pastel-coloured sofas. A white bell-tower on the adjacent building adds even more distinction to the urban surroundings.
Inside the light-filled restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows, the bar takes centre stage, with wood and brass fittings and an excellent choice of cocktails. The food menu combines homeliness and impeccable style.
You might say that Sunday lunch is ‘just’ a lunch, but once you look at the starters section you’ll see that Aviary is a cut above the rest. The white onion soup is hearty and flavoursome, but it’s the beetroot salad that steals the show: wafer-thin discs of perfect circles of pale pink heritage beetroot forming a base for tiny cubes of goat’s cheese, walnuts and truffles. If you want to go down the traditional
Sunday lunch route, try the beef, roasted in the coal oven, which comes with a wooden board presenting the sides: duck-fat roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese and Yorkshire puddings so vast and fluffy they look like out-of-control clouds.
There is also a large array of fish, pan-fried with a sauce of your choice. Drown your fried skate wing in the browned butter and caper sauce, and enjoy heritage new potatoes in seaweed butter. Cholesterol overkill? Totally.
Don’t let this stop you digging in to dessert. There’s a divine chocolate ganache with passion fruit sorbet, an After Eight arctic roll and a sticky toffee pudding. At least you don’t have to fly home like the birds – or your belly really would weigh you down. 9th Floor, Montcalm Royal London House hotel, 22-25 Finsbury Square, EC2A 1DX. T: 020-3873 4000. www.aviarylondon.com
Clockwise from this image: Roast beef; After Eight arctic roll; the restaurant’s terrace