Skylon

At certain points in life it’s necessary to look yourself squarely in the eye and ask,  ‘What sort of person am I? Am I a people pleaser or do I follow the beat of my own drum? Am I the kind of person who follows the landslide of public opinion or are my principles like a rock, a steady foundation that never crumbles?’

And if the answer is not to your liking, exactly how do you go about restoring your self-esteem?

This isn’t just a random bout of navel gazing. Today I did something Bad and in Direct Opposition to My Ethical Values (when you have something important to say you should always capitalise it – I learned this reading letters from my local council). Today I bought some foie gras as a favour for a relative.

Ok, I may not have killed any babies and I’m not going to eat it myself (it’s for a wedding buffet). But I can’t help feeling that in buying a product that even Harvey Nicks deems too evil to sell, I must be transgressing some karmic law somewhere. In an alternate universe I will surely be kidnapped by giant geese and force-fed corn until my liver bursts, which will then be served on crackers at some avian ritual that I can’t even imagine – a nest warming perhaps?

Clearly this was a Traumatic Event and a little something was required to steady the nerves, so the foie gras and I popped into Skylon on the Southbank for said restorative.

This was a risky move as my last visit was in the summer and something of a disappointment (as mentioned in Always a Lady). But it was a move that paid off as after some argy-bargying for seats, the drinks were fantastic. I don’t know whether this is a general improvement or whether we got lucky with our barman. Given that it was packed I suspect the former.

Skylon's bar - before it opened....

Skylon can look quite dramatic with its huge windows and central bar but in broad daylight it lacks a little atmosphere. It was a beautiful night but we lost the last of the sunshine as the window blinds were closed to take the glare off. Later on when the sun had dipped behind the Savoy opposite, the blinds opened to a general ooh of relief as the gloom lifted.

While all this excitement was going on, I was soothing my nerves with a Grand Cherry (Auchentoshan three wood, Navan vanilla, Cherry Marnier, Orange bitters). This turned out to be a top notch variation of an Old Fashioned that had all my favourite flavours with a cherry on top. Literally. It was perfectly made and the only criticism was that I couldn’t really detect any vanilla.

My co-drinker plumped for his favourite, a Dirty Martini (Tanqueray 10, vermouth, olive brine) which convinced me for the first time that this really is a drink and not a mistake. Further kudos were earned with the huge, buttery queen olives adorning the Martini and the nut-free snacks which included my favourite habas mojado.

Service was impeccable and while there’s often something faceless about the cosmopolitan, grey-suited barstaff, the chap serving us thankfully let his personality breakthrough the facade. He was patient, attentive and in spite of being extremely busy took time to answer our questions and keep our complimentary snacks refreshed. Which, given that the drinks start at a tenner, is the least you’d expect.

Skylon is definitely part of the upmarket branch or bars that seems to dominate the London cocktail scene and so is good for a civilised chat or a sophisticated start to a date. It’s also primarily a restaurant destination (they seemed pretty keen for us to order food) and while it’s  ok to stand at the bar while you wait for your table I’d be pretty unhappy about doing so if I was drinking only. I imagine it’s less crowded once the dinner rush has settled but as our drinks were so good and it’s on my way home I’ll risk the crowds and definitely be popping in more often.

Even if I haven’t performed an act of evil that day.

Ambience: 6.5/10
Drinks: 9/10
Service: 9/10
Value: 7.5/10

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