40 | 30 Carry on up the Gherkin

The gherkin

I was going to review this place next year when I could have titled the post, 4030 2010.  But on the 40th floor bar of 30 St Mary’s Axe the view could not wait and, verily, it must be one of the most stunning in the whole of London.

Top of the (financial) world

On one side, the city and a view down the Thames to parliament.  On the other, Canary Wharf and in the distance the leaning tower of Pisa, Sydney Opera House, and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon on a clear day.

40th floor bar - but no sheep

We could also see some extreme sportsmen on the wrong side of the sun-proof, bomb-roof, rain-proof, credit-crunch-proof glass. Apparently the windows are cleaned once a year and today was the day that polishing and wiping was executed by adrenaline junkies whose only umbilical cord between life and a grand canyon scale drop to death was a slender abseiling rope tied to a big pair of cojones.

Look no hands!

This iconic building is so exclusive we had to call in a few favours to get a table.  We also had to donate a kidney to afford the bill.

I love eating with posh people.  It is the only circumstance in which it is worth earwigging.  The Hooray Henries (and Henriettas) were bemoaning the fact that ordinary Muggles could now get into Tower 42’s restaurant so it was simply not exclusive enough these days.  “Is 4030 the only remaining place where my accent will not be mocked?”  I wonder if they realised that a northern oik, and an intruder from the world of the non-magically gifted, was at the very next table.

Rare tree in a concrete glass and steel jungle

My starter was tartar of mackerel, fennel, smoked jalapeño jelly and crisp sandwich.  An intense peppery spicy, fishy sensation but in reality, the size of a sprat.  I suppose such food should probably be served in these quantities to avoid heartburn and to keep my diet (ha!) intact.

Cheesy smile

Rump of lamb, yellow beans, tomato tapenade and salted lemon arrived for main course looking more substantial.  The salted lemon was as appropriate as running a gauntlet screeching down a blackboard while an actor relays your favourite Shakespearian sonnet, but the rest of the dish was perfectly put together and the new potatoes (two distinct varieties of Jersey Royals I think) were quite astonishing, like no other potatoes I have ever eaten, and on their own justified the enormous bill.

Here's the sheep!

An interesting and not stupidly priced wine list threw up a Nicolas Potel 2004 Savigny les Beaune Vielles Vignes “Les Charmeuses” – £55.  Bibendum have this at £18.12 per bottle making the mark-up on the London average 200%.  To be honest I expected it to be more expensive – it’s a good job the Gaucho Grill did not get this franchise!  2004 was a mixed Burgundian year in quality terms according to most commentators.  Personally I have found most samples pretty good, albeit priced higher than new world comparators.

The wine was heavenly for a Pinot lover like me – stewed prunes, apricot and black tea with classic barnyard or is it seaweed aromas?  Complex and rewarding but slightly unusual.  Is this the wine equivalent of an expensive fruit tea?  Best of all it was SERVED AT THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE!

Lofty wine

The cheese course (£3 supplement) continued the excellence and contributed another photo opportunity.

Cheesy smile

The macchiato was served with an erect nipple even though it was 30 degrees Celsius the other side of the window.  Not Italian style but nice with a Château de Laubade Armagnac (unusually, served in a whisky tumbler).

Nice nipple...

The final destination (aka the bill) was worth more than either of my kidneys (although had processed almost as much alcohol) at £213 including service.  It rankled a little that the meal starts with the waiter bringing over 2 bottles of water (still and sparking) already opened in expectation of you accepting both, at £3.95 each.  If you have the balls to ask for tap water fair enough, but, as it happens, I felt that an £8 cover charge was a small amount to pay for a stunning one-off experience…the highest non-helicopter fine dining in London.

40-30-42, NO NOT THE WIFE!!!!

The base price before alcohol is two courses for £39.50 and £47.50 for three.  That’s a lot for lunch but it is not every day you can eat superb food, look down on the Nat West Tower, with its restaurant full of commoners, and imagine you are a rich banker (or was that rhyming slang?)

40 | 30, St Mary’s Axe, The City of London. EC3A 8EP – Nuff said!
T: +44 20 7071 5009
W: www.4030.co.uk

4 Responses to “40 | 30 Carry on up the Gherkin”

  1. Justin Roberts Says:

    Brilliant! Very amusing as ever.

  2. Douglas Says:

    I enjoyed reading your experience of 40/30. I really liked it earlier this year and would love to go back – although yes, it’s hard to get in.

  3. Confessions of a Wino » Blog Archive » Lunch up the BT Tower Says:

    […] been taking the words haute cuisine a little too literally of late following a towering meal at 40:30 on the 39th floor of the gherkin last year, and this year (review yet to be published) Galvin @ […]

  4. Confessions of a Wino » Blog Archive » Galvin at Windows, London Says:

    […] think I am addicted to capital haute cuisine. First I tried the 40th floor of the Gherkin.  Then the revolving 34th floor of the BT Tower. Recently I have stooped, metaphorically, to the […]

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