The superb Skylon Restaurant is located inside the Royal Festival Hall which has pride of place on the South Bank in London’s cultural district. You can dine at the main restaurant or the grill and enjoy cocktails at the bar. If you’re looking for South Bank restaurants, a South Bank pre-theatre menu or places to eat near Waterloo, you must try the Skylon restaurant.
Skylon Restaurant Menu
The restaurant is owned by the D&D Group which offers modern European cuisine from the Executive Head Chef, Tom Cook. Tom has previously worked at Le Pont de la Tour, The Capital and Le Gavroche. The menu is said to be British with a few French twists, especially the sauces. We noticed that Tom has a penchant for little pickled surprises which were included in the dishes we tried.
We were dining at the main restaurant at 6.30 pm (as opposed to the Grill) so ordered from the A La Carte menu. For starters, Homeboy selected the swordfish ceviche which comprised of pickled black radish, charred cucumber, lime, chilli and coriander. It arrived on a lovely plate with an impressive presentation. Homeboy often orders ceviche, and he commented that this dish was outstanding. The swordfish was perfectly marinated with the optimum chilli ratio, which didn’t overpower the fish. The pickled black radish was sweet, which was an excellent addition. Other fish dishes included Brixham crab with pickled apple or lobster with honey and soy glazed pork belly. Or you could try the foie gras with fig and toasted brioche.
Vegetarians, that’s me, will not be disappointed. Firstly, because you get your very own dedicated A La Carte menu, thanks, Tom. Also because the dishes are not an afterthought, thanks again, Tom! (Tom’s the chef in case you forgot and didn’t understand who I was thanking). Anyway, back to my starter. The options were avocado with roasted pepper, herb quinoa and goat’s curd. Caesar salad without the anchovies, so you get the crisp romaine lettuce with Parmesan, croutons and herb dressing. I tried the goat’s cheese and salt-baked beetroot with a lemon and thyme dressing. The presentation was stunning. The goat’s cheese part was in the style of mini fried balls with what looked like a few Nigella seeds in the coating. I thought it also had pickled kohlrabi on the plate, whatever it was, I loved it. Overall, this dish was delightful.
For mains, the choices included roasted rump of lamb on a bed of puy lentils with spiced carrot puree and piquillo peppers. The veal is paired with pickled mushrooms, baby onion and truffle jus while the duck breast is roasted and served with Kohlrabi. Fish featured turbot with mussels, fennel and saffron velouté (white stock French sauce). The John Dory pan-fried fish is served with pearl barley, heritage radish with lobster bisque. Homeboy tried the roasted fillet of stone bass with artichoke barigoule (traditional Provencal dish made from braised artichokes in a warm white broth which is slightly tangy). The sauce came on the side in a mini silver jug so you could pour on as much as you wanted. With crispy skin and tender cooked flesh underneath the stone bass was superb. The baby carrots were sweet and a perfect pairing with this fish.
Vegetarian mains included spiced pink fir potatoes with caramelised onion, summer leaves and slow-cooked duck egg. A broccoli, brie and almond pie with mash and thyme velouté and ricotta gnocchi with summer veg. I decided to try the savoury cheesecake with fig, pickled walnut, roasted shallot and Cornish leaves. I’ve never tasted a savoury cheesecake before, and this was a combination of blue and cream cheese on a base of polenta. I am not usually a fan of blue cheese, but this was delicious.
For dessert, we tried the summer berries with meringue and Chantilly cream plus the peach frangipane tart with almond ice cream. A couple of dishes we couldn’t try due to the animal gelatin were the dark chocolate and cherry mousse with cherry sorbet or the passion fruit cheesecake with guava puree. We did debate whether to try the cheese board, but I’d already had cheese in my main dish, so I pushed for the two desserts.
Drinks-wise, you’ll be spoilt for choice, and it may take you a while to read through the extensive list. Each dish on the menu has a wine pairing underneath, so you are steered in the right direction. If you dining at Skylon for a special occasion, try a vintage wine or perhaps one of the many biodynamic options. We tried four different mocktails which were all fantastic, especially the Pina Colada, the retro cocktails are always the best! If you are not sure what to order, try the Tasting Menu. The Grill menu includes various meat, poultry and fish options. The pre-theatre set menu is very popular, which is available Monday to Sunday 12 noon until 4 pm. Afternoon tea is served Monday to Sunday from 3 pm until 5 pm. Check online for more information.
Skylon Restaurant Interiors
The Royal Festival Hall is at the heart of the Southbank Centre and was originally built for the Festival of Britain in 1951. This government initiative was hosted to help Britain recover from the war. It promoted Britain’s achievements to technology, science, industrial design, architecture and the arts. This restaurant is named after the ‘Skylon’ which was a futuristic cigar-shaped structure located by the River Thames. You’ll find the restaurant located on the third floor of the Royal Festival Hall which is in the Southbank Centre. You can enter via a dedicated door located at the corner of the Royal Festival Hall, or from inside the Royal Festival Hall itself. When you arrive, you check-in at the reception desk and then you are shown to your table.
You will immediately notice the gigantic six-meter floor to ceiling windows treating you to a breathtaking view of London’s South Bank. There’s no need for artwork adorning the walls here when you have this living canvas of London to admire. The glazing is covered with electronic blinds which are manually operated. Careful attention is given to the sun and heat to ensure the diners enjoy the view without getting too hot under the collar. The best seats are the circular tables for four people facing the windows with a front-row view.
The entire space is open plan, and the main restaurant and grill are separated by a bar in the centre which is famed for its cocktails. On our visit, the bar was decorated with a fabulous floral display. The interiors are the work of Conran and Partners who were mindful of this Grade I listed building heritage. Paint scrapings were taken from the Royal Festival Hall to ensure accent walls colour-match authentic 1950s shades. Take time to admire those striking bronze chandeliers while you are there, they have a retro flavour and are quite impressive.
With comfy upholstered seating, crisp table cloths and tableware harking back to the Festival of Britain designs, it’s a joy to dine at Skylon. Book a table if you want to impress clients, guests visiting London, or you’re celebrating a special occasion. The staff were noticeable professional, charming and helpful with a good knowledge of the menu and ingredients. The male staff are dressed in the cutest suits ever. A fantastic restaurant to explore if you’re a Londoner or a visitor.
Skylon Restaurant Information
Cuisine: Modern European (British, French and more)
Price: Tasting menu £59 and an additional £49 for the wine pairings, A La Carte starters £11-19, main course £19.50-32.50, desserts £6.50-8 and cheeses £13
Website: Skylon Restaurant Website
Address: Royal Festival Hall, London SE1 8XX
Near: You’re a short walk from Waterloo station and on the South Bank close to The London Eye, Hungerford Bridge and all the amenities along this strip
Restaurant Open: Check online for the current opening times
Wi-Fi: Yes, but how could you even think about it when you have such great views!
Décor: Contemporary with a complementary nostalgic retro nod
Seating: Best tables facing the windows overlooking the Thames
Toilets: Out into the Royal Festival Hall by the lifts
Reservations: A must if you want to get a seat, you can book online via the website
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Homegirl London and courtesy of D&D. Thanks: Homeboy for dining with me and Georgia Lowther for arranging the meal. Disclosure: Our meal was paid for by the restaurant, thanks very much.