Last Updated on June 7, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
Cocktails with a view
Sabine Rooftop Bar’s bird’s eye view of St Paul’s Cathedral is its great draw but there are other good reasons to visit this newly opened cocktail bar situated on the top floor of the Leonardo Royal Hotel.
One of the unexpected thrills of visiting Sabine is how loud the cathedral’s clock bells sound at this level. They ring on the hour every hour, their reverberations only adding to the atmosphere on the rooftop. Visitors can choose to sit on one of the two outdoor terraces. We picked the area with the retractable glass roof so we wouldn’t have to dash inside if it rained. There is also a spacious indoor botanical-themed bar with plenty of comfortable seating.
Our friendly waitress talked us through Sabine’s seasonal cocktail menu. I started with the ‘Birds of Paradise’ – Pommery champagne with Belvedere vodka, Chambord and elderflower cordial, which was dry and sophisticated. My companion meanwhile ended up working her way through the house G&Ts, starting with G+T Summer and then moving backwards through the seasons to the G+T Spring. Flavour-wise, she preferred Summer – gin from The Botanist paired with cucumber tonic – but Spring would later win the beauty parade.
A stunning vision in pink, Sabine’s G+T Spring combines The Botanist gin infused with pomegranate, paired with dried orange, cardamom seeds, elderflower and bitter orange tonic. For my own second venture into the cocktail menu, I chose ‘What the Dickens’, mainly due to the name. This proved to be a long, tall refreshing drink, mixing gin, Cointreau, orange and lemon juice, fresh raspberries and Fever-Tree blood orange soda.
For those needing a breather from alcohol, there are also mocktails on the list and lovers of wine, beer and spirits are well catered for too.
There is no imperative to order food with your cocktails at Sabine but there is a welcome selection of bar food available. The menu spans the continents, taking in seasonal dishes from all over the world. Our waitress explained that everything other than the bread is made in house at Sabine.
The menu is divided into small and big plates. We opted to share the small and have a large dish each though most of the menu could easily be shared.
Our first pick was the Burrata. There is always something luxurious in this heady combination of mozzarella and cream and here it is well-matched with charred peaches, pistachio pangrattato and slivers of sourdough toast.
Roast Asparagus was next up. The spears came wrapped in Serrano ham with the salty anchovies hidden inside. Perfect summery bar food, the asparagus bundles came with truffle mayonnaise for dipping.
Our final small plate was the Spring Pea and Goat’s Cheese Arancini. These were a pleasingly crunchy and dainty version of the Sicilian classic. They came scattered with sea salt alongside a basil pesto dip.
Thankfully we still had room for our mains. I had the Shiraz Braised Short Ribs, which fell nicely from the bone, accompanied by focaccia and celeriac remoulade.
My companion chose the Grilled Lebanese Chicken. This was served with warm flatbreads and small bowls of tasty extras such as roast biber peppers, tamarind yoghurt and pickled red onions.
When it came to ordering our desserts, our waitress was at pains to explain that the Strawberry Meringue did not come with cream. This had obviously caused some consternation with other diners, but my companion was delighted as she is no fan of cream. The meringue itself was crunchy on the outside and soft inside, topped with ripe strawberries and a rich strawberry coulis and a big success with the cream refusenik. I picked the Elderflower and Lemon Tart. The lemon dominated the elderflower in the smooth, creamy filling. The sherbet dusted on the plate was a fun and fizzy addition, bringing to mind the long-forgotten Sherbet Fountain of my childhood. Both puddings were prettily decorated with edible flowers.
While the proximity of St Pauls may be the star of the show at Sabine, there is also a wide-angle view of the London skyline. This came into its own as the sun went down and other City landmarks started to twinkle in the distance. Sabine Rooftop Bar is the place to go for lovers of a well-made cocktail, fans of Christopher Wren’s beautiful architecture and anyone who has got used to wining and dining outdoors and wants to continue doing so. Nightbirds may also appreciate the fact that Sabine is open until 2am Thursday to Saturday.
10 Godliman Street
London EC4V 5AJ