Oblix is the first restaurant to open at the Shard, at 72 storeys the tallest building in Europe. The restaurant is on level 32 of the building and is run by Rainer Becker, who launched the highly successful pan-Asian restaurants Zuma and Roka. The format at Oblix (a play on “obelisk”, hinting at the pyramid shape of the Shard) is different however, being a “New York grill” without a hint of Asian food in sight. The executive chef is Fabien Beaufour, who previously worked at The French Laundry, l’Orangerie in Los Angeles and as sous chef in a three year stint at Eleven Madison Park.
There is a lift at the base of the Shard that takes you up to the Oblix reception, which is in a dark corridor vaguely reminiscent of an Indiana Jones film set. The lounge is to the left, the main room to the right. The dining room is large, seating up to 130 guests, and the lounge bar is of a similar size: this serves a buffet at lunch, but in the evening offers the same menu as the restaurant. The view is as spectacular as one would hope, the windows floor to ceiling. The hard floor and reflective surfaces means that noise levels are high, as even on my lunch visit the restaurant was packed out.
The wine list had selections such as Royal Tokaji Dry Furmint 2010 at £32 for a wine that you can find in the high street for around £11, Vintage Tunina Jermann 2010 at £98 for a wine that retails at £38 and 2007 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton at £210 for a wine that will set you back £97 in a shop. Bread was bought in from a company apparently called “That Bread”, which I have not come across before; it was decent enough.
A salad of seared beef slices (£12) came with a dressing of lime, garlic, chilli and ginger. This worked well, the dressing nicely balanced and complementing the meat (13/20). Also nice was a starter of yellowtail slices (£14) with toasted coriander seeds and a citrus soy dressing. Again the dressing was carefully constructed, the yellowtail having reasonable flavour and the toasted seeds bringing a useful extra texture (13/20).
Main courses were less successful. My chicken (£16) cooked on a rotisserie was pleasant enough, garnished with rosemary and served with skordalia (a Greek dish of mashed potato with garlic). The chicken was cooked well enough but had limited flavour (12/20). This was still better than duck with mango chutney (£23), which had distinctly overcooked duck that was also quite salty (11/20). On the side, macaroni cheese (£6.50) was pleasant enough, but I preferred carefully cooked cauliflower (£6) with almonds and caper berries (13/20).
Cheesecake (£9) was harmless enough, though it did not have a lot of flavour (12/20). A little better was pecan and chocolate bar with bourbon ice cream (£8), the chocolate and nut combination working well, the texture of the bar nicely smooth (13/20). Service was good, the staff friendly and efficient. A restaurant in this striking location could get away with serving pretty much anything, but they are making some effort here. However for a restaurant group with the experience that this one has, it was a pity that the cooking consistency was not better, especially given the fairly ambitious price point of the dishes. Still, it is hard to argue with the view.