Food & Drink Life

Fenchurch on the 37th Floor

  • November 30, 2023
  • 4 min read
Fenchurch on the 37th Floor

The iconic Walkie Talkie building, known as such in the City of London, commands the skyline, alongside the Cheesegrater and its adjacent building, the Gherkin. These towering symbols of London’s financial might cast giant shadows on the streets below, as city workers going about their daily routine. What distinguishes the Walkie Talkie from other London skyscrapers is its Sky Garden bars. A botanical tour de force that rests atop the offices, in a magnificent three-story atrium. However, two floors above, and accessible via a separate lift or paths winding through a tropical Eden, lies the 37th floor and the Fenchurch.

Head Chef, Kerth Gumbs, whom I immediately warmed to for the simple fact that he sports a Bowler Hat, has created a foodie experience in London that harks back to his Caribbean and Anguillan roots. Together with Berni, the award-winning sommelier, the Fenchurch has become a premier destination. When you make a reservation, there is no need to book separate access to the Sky Garden bars. This grants you a sense of occasion as you gracefully bypass the queues at the ground floor entrance, receiving first-class treatment as you ascend to the roof, much to the envy of those waiting below. This exclusive experience alone justifies the price of admission. Once inside the Sky Garden, after passing through rigorous airport-style security checks and navigating bustling bars, a private lift transports you to the roof, offering an unparalleled view of the city.

For the ultimate sunset experience, request a window table on the west side. It is an awe-inspiring and humbling sight as conversations fade into silence, allowing diners to commune with one of humanity’s oldest rituals: witnessing a sunset.

Our lively and effervescent waitress, Tonicia, escorts us to our table for the Fenchurch Tasting Menu, priced at £95 per person, with the option of wine pairing, which I highly recommend at £75 per person, or cocktail pairing at £65 per person. The cocktails served here are exceptional.

We embark on our culinary journey with ‘The Snacks’ featuring Jerk Beef Tartare accompanied by Sweet Potato Oregano and Mac and Cheese, reminiscent of delightful canapés. The Seeded Sourdough, served with curried Haddock and Tomato butter, is a flawless combination. The Caribbean influence gracefully transitions into a homegrown menu with The Johnny Cake, consisting of delectable picked crab with a subtle hint of Scotch Bonnet. Berni astounds us with an extraordinary blind taste-winning English Sparkling wine, the Hambledon Classic Cuvee of Hampshire. The Fungi and SaltFish, complemented by Octopus, Gungo peas, Okra, Avocado, and Cornmeal, is a delightful dish that embodies lightness and freshness. However, the true spectacle lies in how it is skillfully prepared and presented at the table, involving dry ice and captivating showmanship.

Berni once again impresses us with the selection of a Whispering Angel Rosé, Château d’Esclans Provence, 2021. We pause briefly as the sun’s radiant power blazes across the western horizon, preparing for its breath-taking exit. Then, the moment arrives we’ve all been waiting for—the arrival of the Roast Scallop. As a personal favourite, the scallops are cooked to perfection, accompanied by delicate cauliflower textures and a delectable Chicken butter sauce. This exquisite dish is further enhanced by pairing it with the Chateau St Michelle Chardonnay, 2018, from the United States, which proves to be an exceptional choice. The flavours of the Caribbean subtly permeate the meal, with hints of chilli and delicate cumin accents in the pastry. The grand finale comes in the form of the aged Duck Tamarind, accompanied by Turnip and Sorrel, presenting a harmonious blend of flavours that leaves a lasting impression.

As the sun gracefully sets behind the distant Post Office tower, illuminating the skyline in unison with the majestic Shard, the London cityscape comes alive in the fading light. Chef Kerth Gumbs has reserved some culinary fireworks for the dessert course. A palate cleanser of Pre-Dessert Soursop, Pink Peppercorns and Whisky Gummy Bears, reminiscent of a sophisticated ice lolly, prepares our taste buds for the pièce de résistance— Kerth Gumbs’ Conkie Dumpling inspired Dessert, La Ducana Cake. This masterpiece combines Sweet Potato, caramelised White Chocolate, Coconut, and salted milk Ice Cream, delivering a harmonious blend of flavours. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Berni surprises us once again with a superb choice of wine—Coteaux du Saumur, Les Beaugarands, Langlois-Chateau from the Loire Valley.

With the sun having set and the evening drawing to a close we pause at the reception to retrieve my Bowler Hat, taking a moment to glance through the large plate window into the immaculate kitchen. Catching Chefs’ eye, we exchange smiles, engaging in enthusiastic discourse about our shared passion for culinary excellence. I can hardly remember a more enjoyable evening.

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Philip Ashby Rudd

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