Restaurant Review: Aviary at Montcalm Royal London House, Finsbury Square in the City of London
Perched atop the tenth floor of the luxury Montcalm Royal London House hotel on Finsbury Square, Aviary is the latest eatery from restaurant, bar and pub group ETM, run by Tom and Ed Martin of One Canada Square and The Botanist fame. Situated close to where the City of London borders the fashionable quarter of Shoreditch, this achingly hip rooftop restaurant and bar with indoor and outdoor seating offers diners impressive views across London, with food to match.
If not for the skyline view from the alfresco terrace alone, for the tempting steak and seafood options. Veggies are well catered for too but Aviary’s real specialty is charcoal-cooked dishes using meat from prime British-farmed heritage breeds. White Park cattle from Dorset and Longhorn cows from the Lake District feature on the menu, alongside fish from south coast day-boats and British fishing ports.
I opted for the Raw Platter to start (£15), which comprised raw cuts of bass, trout, tuna, mackerel, scallop and a rock oyster artfully draped over a collection of shiny beach pebbles. Succulent but slippery, the slices weren’t particularly easy to eat this way, but the effort was well rewarded. My partner opted for the poached duck egg served on a nest of noodles and bean sprouts with crispy duck (£11) which was highly flavoursome, the creamy rich egg yolk oozing out pleasingly. The Shorthorn Chateaubriand which followed (£70 for two) was beautifully tender and well complemented by the extra sides of creamed spinach and “thrice cooked” chips (ordered separately). Portions were generous, leaving us almost too full for desserts, but temptation won out in the form of an After Eight Arctic Roll and a custard tart with banana ice-cream and peanut praline.
Aviary’s impressive cocktail list is hardly surprising given that the bar area is a real crowd-puller, especially with the after-work set from nearby City offices. Try a High Heel Society, made with Tanqueray gin, Joseph Perrier champagne, cucumber and honey, or a Jennings Steam Boat with Santa Teresa Claro rum, pineapple, honey and lime. Many of the drinks come served in copper tankards or scooped out pineapples — ideal for sharing — and others are artfully decorated with filigree strands of sugar wrapped around the glass stems. The outside area has beer pumps on the tables to ease crowding at the bar which can get a little buzzy and noisy early evenings towards the end of the week.
Bold and bird-themed: there’s a peacock in full finery to greet you as you ascend into the reception area. Opulent avian touches – birds of paradise, gilded cages, exotic feathers – and loud, vibrant pieces of art line the large, colourful space. Hostesses in bright yellow dresses lend a tropical feel whilst vintage lampshades and mid-century furnishings create an ambience that could be described as The Great Gatsby meets The Birds. This may not be the place for a stuffy board meeting but is perfect for a lively evening with friends or even a romantic dinner with the twinkling lights of the capital below as your backdrop.
The restaurant has only been open since Christmas but has already gathered quite a following and tables can be difficult to come by at weekends. Once the summer arrives, that exquisite rooftop terrace is only going to make even more diners flock to Aviary.
Address: Aviary, Montcalm Royal London House – City of London, 22-25 Finsbury Square, London EC2A 1DX / +44 (0)20 3873 4000