Lunch at Oblix at the top of London’s Shard
You could be forgiven for missing the Shard from ground level – we arrived at Oblix by cab without knowing where we were going for dinner and London’s 72-story skyscraper was almost lost on us. At base level, London’s second tallest, freestanding structure is unobtrusive. Large white, modern shaped pillars, angled inwards towards the sky provided the first clue to our location, although the angles of Shard’s design keep you guessing as you look upwards to a gradually tapered building giving noting away.
Upon orientating ourselves, a rather vacant doorman directed us to a vacant reception area whereby we self-navigated the unmanned, single buttoned lift with relative ease. Luckily the overly assertive lift doors only separated our group for the length of time it takes for the lift to complete a full cycle. Unlike the glass lift to the Duck and Waffle in the Heron Tower, the ascent to Oblix is entombed within a windowless room without perspective and this lack of perspective delivered us into a darkened corridor . . . Unfortunately any excitement harnessed by the experiential, Dungeons and Dragons lead up was royally popped by the hostess fiddling with her i-Pad, telling us our table wasn’t ready before we’d taken our coats off. Although she was visibly torn between making us wait in corridor and allowing us into the bar, luckily her i-Pad approved us to pay £5.80 for a bottle of beer and we turned the next page in our journey.
Oblix offers stunning views over London
Settled in our seats, we slowly absorbed the grandeur of London from our vantage point. The views are stunning and the urge to wander and orientate yourself over London’s skyline is irresistible. The beauty about the Shard’s locations is, it looks back onto London as opposed to being in the middle of it, so views into central London are framed by landmarks such as St. Pauls. However, the Oblix experience dictated yet another hostess needed to project her problems onto us by querying if we’d paid for our drinks before we were shown to our table. Unfortunately almost every juncture of our experience was permeated by a problem being projected back onto us; there was the spare chair at the table and the corresponding removal of glasses and cutlery that wasn’t done properly, then projected back again – I could go on.
Dinner is served at the Shard
The actual restaurant is a bland affair and positively deafening at the height of dinner. The combination of city folk and tourists make for a frenetic ambiance, not helped by our waiter who looked so shifty I removed my wallet and phone from the table. This untrustworthiness was manifested by the transparent up and cross selling, so much so we purposefully didn’t re-order our drinks, just so something, anything, was on our terms. Make no mistake, the Oblix has nothing to do with you and this is not a typical London dining experience. This is a restaurant fairground ride, where you’re a number to be fleeced at every juncture and kicked out via the gift shop.
Putting the waiters unnerving smile and holly trousers to one side, we ordered half a dozen starters. The roasted Romano peppers were recommended as the house speciality and couldn’t be faulted nor could the sliced yellow tail with toasted coriander seeds and citrus soy that touched on HKK proportions. However the accompanying starters were average-to-tasteless to the point of us looking for some rock salt. The lobster and scallop ceviche being the biggest disappointment, only the embarrassment of leaving such fine ingredients on the table forced us to finish the dish.
The mains faired better. Although the rib-eye was far too fatty to be allowed out of any self-respecting kitchen, the Dover sole and veal were delectable. Unfortunately our temporary bubble of enjoyment was popped yet again by our tip-hungry waiter telling us his shift was over – good, now pass us over to Mr. “I’m completely uninterested because there’s nothing in it for me” – thanks.
The only reason we decided on deserts was to enjoy the view now the restaurant was emptying. What was more interesting was watching the ‘restaurant decorum’ be gradually replaced by unashamed faced pressed up against glass walls accompanied by clicking of cameras.
Our soggy cheesecake and lovely ice cream were begrudgingly consumed as we kept an ever watchful eye on exit. Thankfully we eventually caught the eye of Mr. “I’m completely uninterested because there’s nothing in it for me” and he allowed us to pay the bill and we left our rickety Ikea-like table (I’ve subsequently posted a collection of Allen keys and glue in a hope this problem can be sorted).
Not since visiting Archipelago have I been so glad to leave a restaurant. I can say whole heartily we were mugged from start to finish. View or no view, there’s no reason to treat customers that way, you’ll get better service in Pret. You’ll also get a better meal, ambiance and experience in a huge range of London restaurants – plus change in your pocket. With most reviews, you can attribute a poor experience to an ‘off-day’ and see through to the positives. Not with this one. Oblix is an overpriced, underperforming racket and you’re nothing but a number to them.
Level 32, The Shard
31 St Thomas Street
020 7268 6700
We spent: £125 p.p.
Nearest tube: London Bridge