This South Bank Stalwart Delivered Knockout Views... But Did The Food Win Us Over?

If you’re anything like me, South Bank is a well-trodden route, and that's putting it mildly. This riverside stretch is a hub of activity, from winter ambles taking in the Christmas lights (and consuming far too many glühweins along the way) to lazy days in the sunshine. But, perhaps unforgivably, I’ve never a) been to a show at the Royal Festival Hall and b) tried out the gorgeous Skylon Bar and Restaurant. Reckon it’s about time I fixed at least one?

Skylon Reviews London | DesignMyNight

The bar area was simply magical.

You can find Skylon, named after the iconic structure built for the Festival of Britain in 1951, on the third floor of the Southbank Centre. As we walked inside, the first thing that stood out were the five colossal centrepieces that hung from the ceiling. These almost UFO-esque installations reminded me of stacks of cards slotted next to one another in a chic oval shape, and they gave off a nice golden glow. Behind that, and arguably more impressive, were the floor-to-ceiling windows that boasted a coveted lookout point of the Thames (check out the spectacular Skylon photos, people).

Everything here was a masterclass in classical dining. We’re talking dimly lit tables covered in crisp white linen, a charming suited-and-booted waiting team and refined, contemporary British fare. As for the crowd? Think upmarket date nights mixed with culture vultures and excitable tourists admiring the scenescapes. We sat back with two zippy cocktails; both Valentine’s Day-themed as we visited in February. The Bee My Baby (£13.50) was a cute quaff bringing together El Jimador tequila, a serious hit of apricot brandy, lime juice and honey ginger syrup, topped with pink peppercorns. Truth be told, I would have instantly failed a breathalyser test shortly after finishing this, it was that strong. But blimmin' delicious too. On the flip side, my boyfriend went teetotal with his tipple, the cleverly titled and blush-coloured Alcohol You Later (£8). If you’re laying off the booze, this is a fine choice, shaking up the botanical Everleaf Marine with lemon, lavender syrup and grenadine, giving a boozy-like feel with a dash of sparkling Copenhagen Tea Blue.

Skylon Menu London | DesignMyNight

We wouldn't blame you if you drooled over the Skylon restaurant menu.

Next up came the starters. The Jerusalem artichoke soup (£9.50), although in my view should have been served much warmer, still went down a treat. It was a perfect, hearty consistency and the pumpkin seeds provided a good mix of textures. The vegetable crisps were also lovely, but top tip, eat them quickly otherwise they’ll go a bit soggy. Skylon Southbank didn’t scrimp on portions with my partner’s Severn and Wye smoked salmon (£15) - you’ll get a lot of fish for your buck - but we would have liked a bigger dollop of the lemony dill sour cream as it was delicious. His rye bread was also delightfully toasted and proved to be the ideal accompaniment alongside the salty caper berries.

The Skylon menu was definitely a carnivore’s paradise with an array of flaming steaks, succulent grilled chicken and lush seafood. So, my other half made a beeline straight for the venison fillet (£32) and it showcased a veritable winter feast, from the faultlessly cooked seasonal vegetables and decadent, thick blackberry chocolate sauce to the braised red cabbage. It’s worth noting that vegetarians are mostly catered for, but there wasn’t the widest choice here. I opted for the ricotta and spinach ravioli (£18), which featured tasty bundles of green veggies and al dente pasta drenched in a divine butter emulsion. We didn’t detect much sage which is a shame, but the citrusy notes in the sauce more than made up for it.

Skylon Bar London  | DesignMyNight

The Skylon grill restaurant is well worth a visit, just look how photo-worthy everything is.

All this eating had made us thirsty, so I asked the sommelier for recommendations. He picked a pinot grigio (£14) to match the flavours of my main course, and I loved the lightness and refreshing acidity. But I'd not made much of a dent in the drink before the puds arrived. Our pick of the night was a V-Day special, the chocolate fondant (£11). The lava-esque flow of the gooey inner layer was a work of art, and quite frankly, a tastebud torpedo. We hoovered up the salted caramel truffles and duo of sauces (raspberry 'n' toffee), plus the vanilla ice cream brought everything together nicely. I can’t lie, my eyes were green with envy as my beau scoffed the rest, but the treacle tart (£8) was a delightfully sweet end to our evening. Dusted in icing sugar and dotted with strings of candied lemons, the soft slice paired with the lightest of sorbets went down the hatch beautifully. A big two thumbs up from us.

The DesignMyNight Digest

Let’s state the obvious - Skylon restaurant London is one seriously classy affair. The space was massive, but they manage to make it feel intimate with the comfy seats, dinky lamps and a welcoming atmosphere. Our dishes were satisfying and tasty, and while some could do with a minor tweak, the sensational choc dessert will be in my dreams for a very long time to come.

  💰 The damage: £129, plus service charge.

  📍  The location: Royal Festival Hall, London, SE1 8XX.

  👌 Perfect for: A swanky pre-theatre dinner.

 ⭐ Need to know: Bag a table next to the window, you won't regret it. 


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