Restaurant: South Bank’s Skylon

The unfortunate dilemma diners have when frequenting London’s South Bank, is that in exchange for the view you receive below average food. The cultural hub, perched just outside the City, is packed with people throughout the year and the multitude of stomachs that walk past the limited amount of restaurants results in one thing: culinary cockiness. That terrible phenomenon where eateries don’t need to provide good food because they’re guaranteed customers anyway. They cut costs on ingredients, cut costs on waitresses, cut costs on top chefs and the result is – even higher profits.

Skylon is no exception to this rule. I have been meaning to blog about it for a while, but keep getting distracted by more exciting openings or more disastrous dinners; which are always rather fun to write about. Skylon rests just by the Waterloo Bridge on the first floor of the South Bank Centre. Right by the commuters’ station, the restaurant is popular with businessmen and women, not for its menu but for its geography. Americans also seem to like it here. That may just be relative though – there are probably more Americans on South Bank than there are English.

Anyway, I’ve been there twice. Twice? I hear you say. Yes, twice. I too live on the South Bank and have been monopolised by this arrogant restaurant. Sometimes you want to eat out, but you don’t want to get on the tube. You don’t want to go to a chain (South Bank is full of them: Strada, Giraffe, Wagamama, Eat), you get lured in by bright lights and people in the window, and before you know it you’re shelling out £70 for two courses and half a bottle of wine – in Skylon. Oh, and a Bellini.

On the most recent and – I hasten to add – my last visit, I had Chicken liver foie gras parfait with apricot and fig chutney followed by Mushroom tortelloni with confit shallots, pine nuts, shaved pecorino. The parfait was clumpy and dried out my mouth. The tortelloni lacked inventiveness and was bland.

My dining companion had the Skylon burger with onion rings, chips, bloody mary ketchup and was equally unimpressed.

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 Chicken liver foie gras parfait with apricot and fig chutney

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 Mushroom tortelloni with confit shallots, pine nuts, shaved pecorino.

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Skylon burger with onion rings, chips, bloody mary ketchup

It’s frustrating: you’ve got the enviable location, the great space and the fantastic view, but you don’t get the quality of food. I left Skylon the first time feeling cheated and the second time feeling like a mug. Don’t fall for the allure of its trimmings – the core of this place doesn’t make the crack.

Food: ** Wine: *** Experience: ** Cost: ££££

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