Our guide to the best places to eat during office hours in the City and Canary Wharf
WHAT? A pop-up with emphasis on the “up”, Moroccan Sky Riad is the highest temporary restaurant in London, located at Searcy’s at the top of the Gherkin. A fine dining take on Moroccan cuisine, diners can look forward to an “Art of Spice” five course tasting menu and a bar with sultan beds and belly dancers.
WHERE? The top of London’s favourite phallic building is a suitably spectacular location for a world-beating fine-dining pop-up. The space is usually members’ only, so Moroccan Sky Riad is a rare opportunity for average Joes to experience the magnificent glass apogee of the building from the inside.
WHO? Searcy’s head chef Matt Edmonds was inspired to create the mezze-style tasting menu after honeymooning in Essaouira, Morocco. Drinks come courtesy of head mixologist Frederico Geniale, who has designed a special cocktail menu incorporating traditional north African spices including saffron and muscovite sugars.
ORDER THIS... As with any tasting menu, there were highs and lows. The cucumber and mango starter tasted it like it’d been marinated in shower gel, but it was a distant memory as I guzzled the 40-hour lamb cannon in 30 seconds. The latter was one of the best things I’ve eaten this year.
BUSINESS OR PLEASURE? Dining at the top of the Gherkin is undeniably formal (it’s usually a private member’s club) but upstairs is fun: north African style furnishings get close to replicating the ambience of a traditional Moroccan souk – no mean feat for steel-reinforced glass tube in the middle of the City.
NEED TO BOOK? Yes. Lunch is served in a relatively tight two hour period from 12-14.00. They’re expecting it to be busy.
THE VERDICT... A cuisine as bold and rich as Moroccan isn’t a natural fit for a fiddly tasting menu, but on the whole the experiment works. Notwithstanding that starter, and a strange fig and fish pairing, Edmonds has created an imaginative menu that effortlessly blends familiar flavours (lamb and feta) with new ones (cactus fruit). Oh, and the views are incredible.
ONE MORE THING... Don’t forget your ID and expect to be subjected to airport-style body scans. They don’t mess around with security at the Gherkin
THE DETAILS: Book at searcysthegherkin.co.uk or call 0207 071 5025. It’s open for lunch, mid-afternoon mezze and dinner, see the website for more details. Art of Spice five course tasting menu from £59pp (lunch sitting 12.00 – 14.00).