Anyone with a London bucket list knows that Sky Garden is somewhere you should visit at least once. Perched at the top of the Walkie-Talkie building, the city’s highest landscaped public gardens are also where you’ll find sweeping views and top-notch food. Swanky seafood haunt Fenchurch Restaurant and hotspot for next-level British dining Darwin Brasserie, have both set the bar high for Sky Garden. We had the pleasure of visiting Larch, the third venture in the eatery trio created by international catering company Rhubarb. Unlike its two older sisters, the restaurant is on the ground floor and located just outside the iconic tower. The verdict? Read on to find out...
The front of the restaurant is dressed in foliage, with wooden beams protruding out beyond the entrance to support the terrace that sits on the second storey. The outside had the feel of an upmarket garden centre, which carried on as you entered through the bright modern gift shop. It sells everything from Sky Garden souvenirs to cute gardening essentials that are sure to spark the desire to renovate your entire outdoor space.
We were then taken up to the restaurant and met with neutral tones and plenty of natural light, mimicking the simplistic design of the restaurant’s two sister sites. The back wall, made up entirely of glass, opened out onto the terrace which I’m sure will be a go-to for cocktail dates come summer. The most eye-catching element had to be the beehive-inspired bar featuring bespoke oak honeycomb tiles.
With the chic interiors hitting the mark, the one lacking feature that has to be addressed is the views. As a box that you’d expect to be ticked from a Sky Garden establishment, city-wide sights are unfortunately not on the menu at Larch. However, this doesn’t detract from everything it’s doing right, and you can always book tickets to visit the famous viewing platform after your meal. I actually prefer it this way, as it means you have the views to look forward to instead of overindulging in them during dinner. The anticipation makes it even more special when you finally reach the 35th floor, and it elevates the night (literally). And besides, the pining for views will instantly melt away once you get a load of this food.
With a menu comprised of all the Italian classics, there’s bound to be some deep thought going into your decision of what to order. As we struggled to choose between which starters to go for (the presence of a whole burrata menu definitely threw a spanner in the works) my problem-solving instincts kicked in, leading me to order us three to share between the two of us.
The freshness and quality of the seasonal British ingredients were evident from the start. The ricotta and parma ham bruschetta (£8.50) was light and creamy, topped with a decent amount of cheese and ham which covered every corner of the bread. The bruschetta was also airy and crispy rather than extra crunchy, which I’m always more fond of. The calamari (£12.50) was probably in the top five of all the ones I’ve ever tried. The squid-to-batter ratio was on point and accompanied by the perfect garlic mayo dip. Our last starter was the caprese burrata (£12.50), with the orb of cheese sat on a flavourful bed of sweet tomatoes, basil and olive oil.
Drinks were next on the agenda, and we knew we wanted to try something from both the cocktail menu and the extensive list of Italian wines. The cocktails we went for were the Bella Storia (£12), a minty, syrupy rum blend topped up with prosecco, and the Passegiata (£11) featuring vodka, angostura bitters and ginger beer. The wine we chose was the Colomba Bianca Luamari Rosé (£28.50). This was in fact the only rosé on the menu, and I can see why they didn’t feel the need to add others; it went down a treat and was a great pairing for the dishes that were on the way.
For mains, we nabbed the spaghetti pomodoro (£11.50) to see if even the simplest dish could impress. The ingredients shone through, making it on par with any Italian grandparent’s secret family recipe (if I had to guess). Then we went with branzino (£20) for our second main to counteract the carbs. The seabass was soft and flakey with crispy skin and garnished with cannellini beans and fennel to balance out the salty fish. Sides consisted of truffle and parmesan chips (£7.50) and tenderstem broccoli (£5.50) which were both 10/10 and had us discussing how to recreate them at home.
We ended the meal in true Italian fashion with a tiramisu (£8) to share; it was the ideal ratio of bitter and sweet, with a coffee flavour that wasn’t too overpowering and a thick but airy mascarpone cream.
The DesignMyNight Digest
In terms of versatility, Larch scores top marks; whether you fancy a casual carb-loaded lunch, alfresco cocktails on a sun-kissed terrace or a romantic dinner date that ends with a ride up to Sky Garden, this is the place. The brand has grown its oasis further out into the metropolis, providing another spot to escape to when the grey gets too much. It appeals to city workers and tourists alike, with authentic dishes that cater to everyone’s taste and consists of only the best locally-sourced ingredients, which is sure to get the foodies flocking.
💰 The damage: Around £135 for a three-course meal for two, with cocktails and a bottle of wine.
📍 The location: 1 Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF
👌 Perfect for: Lovers of pizza and pasta, date nights and summer day drinking.
⭐ Need to know: Sky Garden hosts epic live music nights too.
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