Could this be the best brunch in town?
Sneaking in a brunch at Oblix at The Shard just before yet another set of temporary restaurant closures thanks to Covid-19 was a great way to safely get that feel-good factor. The two spaces which make up Oblix – West and East – provide plenty of great views across London. Currently carefully laid out to ensure social distancing, in addition to the regular dinner menu, there’s an afternoon tea offering and a fabulous brunch which we went along to sample. We are big fans of some of Rainer Becker’s other restaurants – Roka and Inko Nito are great places to dine with sophisticated pan-Asian menus that ooze style. Oblix, we discovered, offers much the same blend of casual style, excellent food and cocktails. And all that with The Shard providing a view to die for!
Brunch at the 7-year-old restaurant is a chance for friends and family to meet up. There are two ‘unlimited’ options – a Rose Brunch for £75 which offers a pairing of rose, selected wines, cocktails and soft drinks along with the food. Or, a champagne brunch for £95 based on the same food but with an upgraded champagne pairing.
You pick a few dishes from the starter menu for the table to share, then one main course per person. The dessert platter is a selection of sweet treats that rounds off the meal perfectly.
Opting (as you might expect) for the Champagne Brunch, I was genuinely thrilled to be served a glass of Billecart-Salmon when I arrived. It’s a premium Champagne from one of the few remaining family-owned Champagne Houses in France. And, it’s delicious – especially with food!
My companion opted for a virgin mojito – but even she was tempted later on and had a glass of fizz before going back to her own favourite.
A pretty bread basket arrived with an assortment of breads including some delicious ‘piano’ bread, which I always nibble on, figuring that it might have fewer calories. Brunch was probably not the right opportunity to be trying to keep count – though much of the food was healthy – plenty of salads, grilled fish and meat and a few pasta dishes.
We picked a selection of starters as recommended by the team at Oblix. Pretty as a picture beef carpaccio with a light garnish of mustard, parmesan and herbs slipped down nicely.
I loved the courgette fries with garlic and cucumber yoghurt. It’s a dish which doesn’t always work – the courgettes need to be carefully drained and the batter needs to be light as a feather so that the end result is a melting vegetal inner encased in crisp, well-flavoured batter. Our generous bowl was perfect – and I have a feeling we polished off the lot!
Crispy squid was delicious, with a light crisp crumb shell, just the right hint of chilli and plenty of lime to squeeze over.
And finally, a caesar salad – carefully composed mixture of leaves, crisp shards of parma ham and wafers of parmesan
If I have any criticism of the menu it is that many of the main courses involve a supplement. Three out of four of the grill dishes and two out of four of the Josper meats. The quality of what we ate, though, was unquestionable.
I enjoyed a whole lobster with lemon verbena and garlic butter (£10 supplement) while my companion enjoyed a perfectly grilled and beautifully presented whole Dover sole with garlic, butter and capers (also £10 supplement). This IS the kind of place where you come when you want an indulgence – ours also included a market bowl salad to share and a wonderful and very generous portion of truffle and parmesan fries with bearnaise which I’d happily have eaten by themselves. No truffle oil here, the bowl of crisp fries is topped with molten parmesan and a generous shaving of black truffle
The lobster was beautifully cooked and a good size. Grilled lobster can easily become rubbery but this was perfectly tender and beautifully pre-cracked so I didn’t need to make any effort with the lobster picks. My companion’s Dover sole was firm and meaty with a lovely buttery crust.
We needed a break before dessert and made our way to the other side of the restaurant where there are bar stools and a lounge area for afternoon tea. Watching the sun set over London everything seemed just perfect. Dessert was a selection of the a la carte menu dishes.
This kind of brunch dining is very easy – the food is relatively simple but excellent quality and perfect cooking make the whole affair relaxing – exactly what you need at the weekend. The brunch menus do reflect the food served in the evening too. Executive chef Marcus Eaves gained his first Michelin star aged just 27 at L’Autre Pied in Marylebone. Cooking on the spit roast, charcoal grill and wood-fired ovens, Marcus showcases the best of British and European produce with a similar menu supplemented by ‘The Celebration Series’ – a special tasting menu that would be perfect for a Birthday treat. When we visited, the menu that was running was The Celebration of Beef celebrating beef through 10 dishes designed for the whole table to share. The tasting menu costs £90 a per person and sounds amazing. It’s my own Birthday in March and I hope that by then, the restaurant will have reopened so that we can enjoy the food and cocktails again.
The first restaurant to open in The Shard back in Spring 2013, I really enjoyed my first visit to Oblix and will definitely return. It’s worth noting when booking that if you want a window seat you need to pay a £5 supplement. It’s the sort of place where you’ll want to do just that!
31 St. Thomas Street
London SE1 9RY
020 7268 6700
For an alternative, why not try the afternoon tea at Ting, Shangri-La Hotel, at The Shard,