Restaurant Review: Darwin Brasserie at Sky Garden in London
One of the restaurants situated within the City of London’s iconic ‘Walkie-Talkie’ building is The Darwin Brasserie – Sky Garden’s go to all-day dining destination, looking over England’s concrete skyline.
Last time I visited Darwin it was for brunch, this time I was back to see how this suitably daytime eatery adapts itself once the sun has set beneath the buildings and the city lights sparkle 36 floors up. Its evening offering certainly seems as popular with a more relaxed ambience in comparison to its smarter, fine-dining sister upstairs at Fenchurch St. It may be more laid back, but this doesn’t mean service slacks – in fact it’s just as brilliant as I remember, maybe even better. Here, is a well-oiled machine that allows you to simply sit back and enjoy its famous views.
Pre-dinner cocktails, I ask for a classic Cosmopolitan – off menu which isn’t a problem whilst we peruse the menu. Described as having a ‘laid-back yet spirited atmosphere’ The Darwin Brasserie is surrounded by the verdant tropical surroundings of Sky Garden and its understated setting allows for the garden, combined with the panoramic views and food to lead the way. Suitably seasonal and inspired by the best of British, ingredients do the talking here from early morning power breakfasts, to weekend brunches, long lunches and dinner. A reflection of its straight forward, yet natural and chic setting – Darwin Brasserie’s menu is refreshingly simplified. Sectioned up from ‘To Begin’ which offers a choice of sourdough bread with home whipped salt & pepper butter or green & black olives marinated in basil & lemon, it leads swiftly onto dishes within ‘To Start’, ‘Garden’, ‘Land’, ‘Sea’ and ‘Sides’ sections.
So to start… a warming Jerusalem artichoke soup with winter truffle cream and ficelle bread, a goat’s cheese and pear tart or notably French steak tartare with confit egg yolk, baby gem lettuce & sourdough crisp (also available as a main dish). My guest and I decided however to choose and share a garden option to start – a Middle Eastern inspired ‘Imam Bayildi’ (grilled aubergine) finished with yoghurt & pomegranate. Another impressive vegetarian or ‘Garden’ option available is a ‘delica pumpkin’ (charred hispi cabbage, king oyster mushrooms, cashew hummus, pumpkin seeds & pistachio).
Clocking other orders diners had chosen around us, dishes from ‘The Land’ seem to be of popular preference. We follow suit – one of my guests selects the 9oz matured English rump steak with French fries and green beans which is cooked perfectly and generous in size whilst another (the burger aficionado among us) vets the ‘Darwin Beef Burger’: stacked with treacle cured bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, ‘Darwin burger sauce’ & French fries. Also from the land – ‘Roast Pork Belly’ with puy lentils and apple sauce and for me – a tender ‘Slow Cooked Venison Shoulder’: with braised red cabbage, quince & sloe gin jus.
If you’re not a bunch of carnivores as are we, ‘Fish’ options also include a smoked haddock fishcake with spinach, celeriac remoulade & warm tartare sauce, a roasted sea trout with honey-glazed pumpkin & spiced yoghurt and a monkfish on the bone with devilled mussels & confit fennel. Not forgetting side dishes to fit with any of the above – Darwin Brasserie serves up a notably large selection from truffle and parmesan fries, to Savoy cabbage & pancetta and roast pumpkin, chestnut & crisp sage.
The wine and champagne list is much, much more complex in comparison to the easy to navigate food menu. From a selection of Moët & Chandon and Dom Pérignon Blanc champagnes to rose, white and red wines ranging from light, refreshing and aromatic to medium, juicy and ripe and light fruity and floral – there is a bottle for every occasion to toast the skyline.
Address: Sky Garden, 1 Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF, 0333 772 0020, skygarden.london/darwin