The Shard and I have a tempestuous on again, off again relationship. On our first rendezvous this bastion of the London skyline was moody and somewhat icy, our second dalliance was a touch more blue sky and secretive (an unbloggable lunch at the Shangri-La), and the third a cheeky twilight drink – but on this particular date, we managed to enjoy an early brunch cementing our liaison as an everlasting London romance.
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Aqua Shard but my (very many) thoughts are only ever mine and more repeat visits on lovely days are going into my diary.
After a flurry of activity organising a secret trip in honour of Aftab’s birthday, 3 of the self-named Angles (sorry, random insider joke) gathered around a table with one of our American favourites (she is definitely not square, I promise) to breakfast and gaze over the London skyline full of anticipation for our incipient journey. Laden with weekend bags full of mischief and a train booked for 11am, early on the Sunday morning we checked in with the restaurant front staff (who didn’t even blink an eye at how much clothing we had packed) and took our seats over the London city skyline.
Unfortunately with my camera packed at the bottom of my bag (such a #bloggerfail) and not wanting to share my wardrobe with the sleepy diners around us, it was iphone photos that morning, but actually being able to enjoy the view without fiddling with lenses was an unusual treat.
We began with coffee, classic pastries and teasing our birthday Prince. Having no idea of our destination until we pulled into the castle drive – unlike almost everyone around us including Christina (we had told him to pack a suit and a baseball cap for the pub dinner before a night camping) we all grinned from ear to ear with anticipation.
As we were celebrating, a round of cocktails magically appeared on the table (did that work? Was it convincing? It was only 9.30am and admitting to ordering a round of cocktails seems indulgent in the extreme. That’s the thing about brunch dates, goodness knows what can happen on them…) one for each of us. Undecided, my eyes alit on the Pear and Cinnamon Bellini and Binny chose had appear the Peach and Thyme Bellini for a herbed twist, whilst Christina and Aftab enjoyed Vanilla and Blackberry bellinis.
The table was completely split on ordering mains – Aftab & Binny enjoyed a vegetarian full English; flat Portobello mushrooms, white bean home-made baked beans, avocado, crisped potatoes, grilled skinless tomatoes, wilted spinach and with two poached eggs served on brown toast. Christina and I couldn’t resist her favourite; the Lobster Eggs Benedict. Colchester Blue lobster poached in a spiced butter, then used to make the hollandaise sauce and crowned with poached eggs. The ratio of each simple, but delectable ingredient was sublime. And I am rather fussy about my Eggs Benedict – going so far as to write a ranty diatribe one year.
Clearing our plates and not able to take another nibble, as giddy as couples in the flush of first love (or bloggers about to stay in a luxurious castle) we popped upstairs for a quick look over the atrium where afternoon tea is held…
…and a quick recce through a still closed Hutong which was setting up for a busy day. Tastefully decorated with authentic Chinese epherema, my appetite was only whetted by the stories behind each carefully curated item and the beautiful views of my favourite beau.
I definitely need a return visit. Perhaps not to the intimate Hutong tables for two so beloved of couples getting engaged (Mr Kiwi might not be so impressed, though I understand in English law that marrying the same person multiple times is legal?) but for a twilight feast as London lights up.
This is the problem with the dizzying tango of blogging – always finding more scrumptious locations to explore. #firstworldproblems
Glorious views from a restaurant usually equate to insipid fare from the chef’s bench. It’s an unfortunate equation that has proved true time after time in my disappointed experience, but luckily, the mile-high club 31-storey Aqua Shard delivered a glamourous brunch alongside the jaw-dropping panoramic views on the riverside.
(Pin me for later inspiration)
What is your favourite meal to enjoy with a beloved?