Free as a bird

As a new rooftop restau­rant opens near Liver­pool Street, Emma Levine tucks into Sun­day lunch and takes in the views

Where London - - Dining -

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.aviary­lon­

Clock­wise from this im­age: Roast beef; Af­ter Eight arc­tic roll; the restau­rant’s ter­race

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