Unlike the two D&D restaurants mentioned earlier in the post which are principally the haunts of City folk (in the wider sense), Skylon is based on the Southbank in the Royal Festival Hall so the clientèle are perhaps a little more diverse and while that might improve the atmosphere (fewer Blackberrys for a start), it's not obvious what it means for the food.
The restaurant also offers stunning views over the Thames and up towards The Strand and Charring Cross and with a window seat (where the tables for two are), we do feel we've hit a jackpot as we ease back into our chairs. Staff too were friendly and polite throughout and the overall feel is one of capability in all areas. For all the criticisms of the D&D group, they do maintain standards and we've yet to fault them on the way we're treated and looked after (and for the record, Skylon didn't know we were coming, didn't know we were bloggers and we were afforded no special treatment).
The menu is quite simple, a choice of six starters and a choice of six mains. It is also vegetarian friendly with the mains offering up two veg based dishes, two fish dishes and two meat dishes. We start with a carpaccio of veal, golden raisins, capers, almonds, mache salad and banyuls dressing. We also opt for the Cornish mackerel rillette, pear and endive salad and walnut dressing. Both dishes offer up full flavours, are well seasoned and both the almonds on the veal and the walnuts on the mackerel highlight the role of texture as well as taste in the offerings, something seen in the main courses also.
The pork is offered with sherry braised cabbage, basquaise spinach and pedro ximenez dressing. The salmon comes with curly kale, pine nuts, butternut squash cream and thyme creme fraiche veloute. The salmon was delightful and could hardly be cooked better. The butternut squash cream was uniformly smooth and the veloute was a fantastic addition, lifting the dish nicely. It was a very competent dish. The pork, with wonderfully crispy crackling was similarly well executed.
The other dessert was a parfait of honey and confit cherries, toasted pine nuts, lemon dacquoise, port and passion fruit jelly. No theatre but nicely presented and enjoyed. Also a nice touch is the dessert wine sampler giving you three 25ml glasses of different dessert wines (a muscat, a Suaternes and a tokaji) for £11.50 allowing you to compare three very different sweet wines side by side; great for sharing too. Finally, a nice surprise at the end of the meal was a wheel of petite fours (you are after all in the shadow of the London Eye).
The issue that foodies are likely to have with Skylon in our view is that the menu is perhaps too mainstream: something for everyone and nothing likely to offend. But the risk is that while the menu will not offend, nor will it truly excite and that might reflect its location, purpose and ownership. Coq d'Argent offered classics brilliantly done but also with a modern twist and very good looking plates; Plateau meanwhile enticed with braver dishes such as assiette of rabbit suggesting that they are now dabbling with adventure; Skylon was excellent start to finish but lacked an ultimate wow factor. But at this price it hardly seems reasonable to raise the issue.
I would return to Skylon and not just to raid their wine list. The food was done very well indeed, was served up in enjoyable surroundings by friendly staff and it offered truly excellent value for the money. It's not yet a destination restaurant in its own right but if Southbank itself is your destination, then it is certainly worth considering. If you're getting together with friends, it's a convivial place to meet and eat. We enjoyed the meal today, and taking Skylon for what it is, I find I have no complaints whatsoever.
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