For a pre-Radio 3 live on the Southbank (#worldmusic) Friday night Southbank supper and a post-Dandelyan botanical cocktail (Peach in a pine cone!) at the beautiful Mondrian Hotel in the Sea Containers, my foodie companion chose Skylon. Not only does it have a vegetarian/vegan menu, but it’s also situated bang on the third floor of the Royal Festival Hall – in theory, the perfect location for a cultural supper. Indeed, it takes its name from the original iconic structure that was built for the 1951 Festival of Britain.
Unfortunately, however, the hostess at the reception was not so welcoming. After explaining that we’d had to push our reservation back an hour and that we needed a speedy pre-“concert” supper, she became very difficult and refused to seat us in the restaurant. We ended up taking the matter to the manager, who eventually apologised and not only offered us a table in the brassiere-style Grill overlooking the lit-up river with a stunning view of the Thames from the floor-to-ceiling windows, but also gave us a complimentary cocktail and starter! Whilst the main restaurant features modern British cuisine from Executive Head Chef Tom Cook, the grill offers more informal cooking and a relaxed atmosphere. The two dining areas are separated by a stunning centerpiece bar, which is renowned across London for its fabulous cocktails.
I was very impressed to learn that they had a vegetarian/vegan a la carte. And the starter didn’t disappoint – we shared the Salt baked beetroot with goat’s curd and pumpernickel crumb. Beets and goat’s cheese are definitely a match made in heaven, especially when the creamy curd is at play.
Having enjoyed the delicacy of the goat’s curd for starters, I wanted more of the same for mains and so ordered the Avocado, roasted pepper, herb quinoa and goat’s curd salad (£15.50), scattered with seasonal pomegranates and micro-salad leaves. It was deliciously dressed and the combination of avocado and the curd was again, dreamily creamy and one I haven’t yet encountered. It was an innovative mix of flavour and vibrant colours. So moreish, yet light and healthy – perfect for the kale inclined enthusiasts that enjoy “clean” plates that pack a subtle punch with flavour. In the end, our service was also super speedy and attentive.
For me, Skylon is probably the best option for a more formal Southbank meal. Whilst Wahaca never disappoints, Skylon is, of course, a very different experience. It offers glamour and magic through its lofty ceiling and Thames views, especially when lit up by night. But Skylon’s dose of metropolitan pzazz is not the only selling point – it’s food is undeniably contemporary and cool. Skylon isn’t just a thoroughfare of the Southbank, it’s a destination in its own right.
Skylon, Royal Festival Hall, London, SE18XX