Monday, 27 August 2012


Gherkin and Shard
If you're a bird of prey, perhaps a Peregrine falcon, then this is where you should hang out for your meals, mostly pigeons from what I can see.  However, if you're just a simple human that is scared of heights or suffers from motion sickness then this restaurant might not be for you.  Unfortunately, I suffer from both afflictions so, it was not without some trepidation that I stepped aboard the SushiSamba express, a glass fronted lift, that elevates you at great speed almost to the top of London's newest skyscraper in a matter of seconds. Apparently, the views are amazing! I only had eyes for the lift buttons they're very stylish you know. 

SushiSamba, located atop the Heron Tower, floors 38 and 39 to be exact, just a hop skip and a jump from Liverpool Street station, is London's newest and possibly highest restaurant.  According to their website blurb, "customers will be able to experience a unique blend of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine, culture, music and design". Wow, I'm exhausted already and I've only made it out of the lift.....all my senses are screaming, get out!  Gaining some control and composure I stumble towards reception to be greeted by serenely orange attired hostesses.......are the Dutch hockey team moonlighting?  I finally remember my name and we're quickly whisked off to our table. Everything happens so quickly in SushiSamba!

The imaginatively and quirky designed restaurant, bars and terraces are set for al fresco eating. Perhaps, no one has told them about the British weather and a few minutes later the rain sets in and everybody is whisked off the terrace. Wind speed has also increased and now the terrace is closed for eating and photos. Fortunately, at this time of day there is room within the restaurant and bars to seat these guests. God only knows what happens when they're full?  A few moments later some burly looking men in overalls turn up with stainless steel buckets. The roof is leaking. Parts of the bar are taped off like a crime scene. 

So much excitement and we haven't even looked at the menu!  Our waiter introduces himself and starts to explain the menu. He's enthusiastic and obviously knows a lot about the dishes explaining how he can help us with menu choices. This is always good to hear as this menu is somewhat confusing.  Essentially you share your 'plates' with your guests which is all good fun. 

Edamame with sea-salt and lime go nicely with our drinks. Not looking to eat the whole menu we decided on a starter of Chicharron de Calamar,  crispy golden squid, to you and me, served with mint, tomato and tamarind.  Our main courses of Tamales, one plate of Churrasco, grilled meat, including Flank Steak and Lamb chop were both tender but rather salty, served with what I can only describe as rather leathery cabbage and re-fried beans, a side of sweet plantain, the best I've tasted in a long while. As you'd expect sushi was well presented. Main course presentation wasn't as dramatic or flamboyant as I expected especially when compared to the likes of Nobu and Asia de Cuba, but overall flavours were pretty good.

We decided to economize on the wine and went for an Argentine Malbec, priced at £25.00. Unfortunately, I had to send this back as it was served chilled and I mean chilled. The wine waiter was very apologetic and explained how they keep their wines at such and such temperatures. Yada yada. It was freezing OK!   I'm pleased to report that the replacement was excellent and certainly good value for money. 

Desserts included Red Chocolate Chili, Mango mousse and Yuzu tart which was very cleverly presented.  Saki shots finished off the meal and help was at hand again to explain the various nuances of this delicious drink.

This restaurant is fun, views are amazing and majority of staff are charming and engaging. The chairs are so heavy you need to be built like Arnold Schwarzenegger to move them and the tables are perhaps too small considering there are so many plates. The menu is a really strange mix and unless you're familiar with these dishes always ask for assistance. 

A 12.5% discretionary service charge is added to your bill. Expect to spend £70 per head with a bottle of wine. The views and quirky designs are amazing and I would love to come back to see the place at night.

Posted by Richard....

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