BARS – Skyline View from The Hilton SkyLounge
Living in the suburbs of London, I don’t often get to the see the spectacular skyline of the city. But from the Santa Monica SkyLounge Hilton Tower Bridge, not only do you get to see the skyline, but you become part of it. Stepping out of the elevator I was greeted by a very friendly maître d’ who escorted me to my table, located in the middle of an extensive roof garden. The style was simple and chic with modern white furniture and matching covers and the long wooden decking added to the vibrant atmosphere. Both I and the other half were unsure why the SkyLounge was christened Santa Monica, since it bears very little relation to that iconic area of Los Angeles, but I suppose it suggests a sense of glamour and escapism that we all seek from our hectic city lives. As I sat down, full of anticipation for a great evening, something made me feel very uncomfortable. I was surrounded by cigarette smoke! There was a fuliginous haze that was rapidly blanketing the area and stifling the air. Both I and the other half were beginning to feel quite ill and as an asthmatic, I was getting more and more anxious. When our waitress eventually showed up, I asked to be re-seated inside and she was very accommodating. I was very disappointed to be forced from what was supposed to be a roof top experience, to having to retreat to the ironic freshness of internal air conditioning. I, and many fellow non-smokers, are becoming quite fed up with this self-imposed imprisonment, because the air outside is becoming more and more toxic.
With that off my chest, let’s start again. We were seated at a side bench overlooking the roof garden and safely shielded by glass, I could survey the scene without any further risk of an asthmatic reaction! Our waitress remained incredibly chirpy and enthusiastic, despite my evident belligerence, and I have to credit her with professionalism beyond the call of duty! As soon as the first cocktails arrived, the evening suddenly found itself elevated to the same heights as the building itself. I became aware of the excellent house music that was being played from the DJ booth situated just behind us. The first cocktail was an Azzuro Sour 12.50 which consists of Johnnie Walker Black Label, Cointreau and elderflower syrup joined together in a foamy harmony of egg white topped up with Peroni Nastro Azzuro. It was light yet banging!! The other half had a Caribbean Sour 12 which is a blend of Chairman’s Reserve (the finest St. Lucia rum), mandarin napoleon, angostura bitters and egg white. This is a less sweet alternative to what I had.
As we savoured our cocktails, the first of our light meals arrived. We started with chargrilled bruschetta with Parma ham, figs and gorgonzola cheese 10. It was simply delicious and since I was ravenous I devoured it with very little decency. This was accompanied by soy and ginger salmon mini tacos with corn salsa and tomatina sauce. It was again light and fresh, but over-shadowed by the brilliance of the bruschetta. Then came my second cocktail, which was the delightfully bittersweet Peroni Spritz 13.50. This consisted of Peroni, Aperol, Prosecco and grapefruit. I love Aperol Spritz anyway, so this is a must-have for those who have a proclivity for a lighter, but not overly sweet, refreshing cocktail. Several spritzes later, came the culinary highlight of the evening in the guise of the Sweet & Sour tuna with caramelised onions. This was simply a stunning dish that both titillated and appeased the palette. For fun try the cheesy jack fries with jalapenos & crispy bacon 7.50. The waiters were very knowledgeable and encouraging of the cocktails and recommended the Dark Side 15, which was the most addictive liquid indulgence I have ever had the pleasure of quaffing. This taste-busting beverage combined a perfect serve of Woodford reserve, dark Mozart Chocolate liqueur, Cointreau and vanilla over ice. This outstanding cocktail alone is worth visiting SkyLounge for.
On reflection, I had an excellent evening with spectacular cocktails and a variety of contemporary and classic bar snacks to add to the experience. SkyLounge is touted as a venue for fine dining, but I would say that is a little bit misleading. If you are super hungry and wanted a big, hearty dinner, then SkyLounge is not what you want. If, on the other hand, you want an evening of delectable snacks and spectacular cocktails, then this is a must visit. For me, the evening was only marred by the lack of non-smoking areas on the actual roof top garden, so I didn’t get the true experience that I was anticipating, but still thoroughly recommend it.
SkyLounge, 7 Pepys St, London EC3N 4AF
Tel: 020 7709 1043
Heart London Magazine 5 * Review
Darren Cheers, Heart London Magazine