The Southbank Centre is feeling all loved up this August. Romance has swept along the Thames with a summer calendar of music, art, dance, performance, and food all devoted to love itself. Aww. But for those Londoners who find the Southbank and its throngs of people a rather unappealing concept, there’s a sophisticated date-night idea where you can still soak up some of the gooey-eyed magic – Skylon’s Festival of Love tasting menu.
This was my first visit to Skylon, part of the D&D group which runs beloved old London favourites including Quaglino’s and Le Pont de la Tour, and buzzy new ones such as German Gymnasium. Skylon – named after a sculptural structure that was itself part of a festival celebrating British arts and culture after the Second World War – is a smart dining room which benefits from high ceilings and a vast panoramic window looking out over the river; at sunset, there are surely few better places for cocktails.
We were there for head chef Tom Cook’s latest tasting menu creation. The menu consists of five courses complete with amuse bouche and petit fours, all made up from ingredients believed to have aphrodisiacal qualities. Dishes include a seabream carpaccio with a temperature rising injection of chilli, a sweet pomegranate duck breast (did you know the duck is a Chinese symbol of love?), finishing with a delectable mousse made from that most famous of love inducing foods; dark chocolate. I usually find chocolate puddings a little underwhelming, but this one was indulgent, rich, and sexy, offering everything you hope chocolate will be.
The menu offers an option to pair selected wines with each course, and it’s a lovely way to complete the meal. Highlights included a well-balanced Riesling that accompanied a ballotine of foie gras, and a glass of Tokaji to finish the meal. Tokaji is my current foodie obsession, it’s an amber coloured ambrosia of a dessert wine from Hungary. I first discovered it while on a weekend away in Budapest, ever since I’ve been planning a large scale stockpiling operation of the stuff. Paired with the chocolate mousse pudding would make an excellent first introduction if you’ve not tried it before.
Skylon’s Festival of Love menu is only running until the end of August, with this year’s balmy summer days providing the perfect backdrop. Dining here would make for both a generous, memorable first date, or a charming way to romance the special someone already in your life. Perhaps they should bring it back next February!
Skylon’s Festival of Love Tasting Menu is priced at £59 for five courses, with optional wine pairings at £49 and a cocktail on arrival.