Once upon a time a chap called Irvine Sellar tried his hand at smashing life.
And so The Shard was born.
He didn’t just want to create a building, he wanted to create a vertical city: homes, offices, a hotel, shops, restaurants, and bars. And so, with the help of architect Renzo Piano and a little *ahem* gold dust, he did just that. All within a singular unicorn horn.
There are six Shard restaurants and bars in total: Bar 31, Aqua Shard, Oblix, Hutong, TĪNG, and GŎNG, all of which boast floor to ceiling windows and a 40 mile panoramic view of the city. But beyond that, they’re all pretty different. You’ll find everything from a swanky sports bar to once-in-a-lifetime Chinese, so we’ve written you an all-encompassing guide to make sure you know what you’re getting and where.
Starting from the bottom:
Set on the ground floor, Bar 31 is the most casual of the Shard restaurants – a swanky sports bar meets New York Deli. Think tall ceilings, long glass counter tops, and huge menu blackboards; all wrapped by an outdoor terrace for the summer months. More relaxed than the upper floors, you’ll find live music (Friday and Saturday evenings), 82 inch sport screens, and craft beers on tap – alongside wine, spirits, G&Ts and Champagne (if you’re after cocktails, better head upstairs to Aqua Shard). The food, meanwhile, is centred around mini pizzas, with a supporting cast of bar snacks, cheese boards and ice cream.
Address: Bar 31, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY | Opening times: Thurs-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat 1-10pm | Cuisine: Classic bar snacks | Price: ££ | Brunch? No | Afternoon tea? No | Sunday lunch? No | For more information, visit their website here.
31 floors up, you’ll find Aqua Shard: an all-day affair fit for impressing. You can get up early, or take the morning off and watch London wake up while you drink coffee and ponder which freshly baked pastry to eat next. On weekends they serve brunch, from Full English (or vegetarian) breakfasts to pancakes, with the option of having a sommelier-guided wine pairing throughout. The setting also makes for an incredibly persuasive working lunch, or afternoon tea with the in-laws.
And then there’s dinner. The restaurant dims, apart from a few spotlights and the glittering London skyline spread-out below. In the centre of the room is a big square bar, framing a pyramid of spirits lit up in gold. You can prop yourself up on a stool and order from a long list of both classic and signature cocktails, before sitting down to eat. Here you can feast on the likes of 28 day dry aged Hereford beef with cheddar potato gratin; treacle-marinated trout with dill oil; duck & quail terrine or pearl barley risotto with ‘breakfast radish’. The wine list is long, colourful, and spans at least sixteen countries, or, should the occasion call for it, you can order a magnum of Dom Pérignon Champagne. It’s hard not to feel on top of the world. READ MORE
Address: Level 31, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY | Opening times: Lunch Tues-Fri, 12-2.30pm; afternoon tea Thurs-Sun, 1-5pm; weekend brunch 10.30am-3.30pm; dinner daily 6-10.30pm | Cuisine: British | Price: £12.50+ for a starter, £26+ for a main, lunch set menus from £29 | Brunch? Yes, from £44 | Afternoon tea? Yes, from £52 | Sunday lunch? No | For more information, or to book, visit their website here.
Level 32 hosts Oblix. It comes from restaurateur Rainer Becker (the mastermind behind Zuma and Roka) – although unlike his other two restaurants (and Aqua below), it feels more relaxed. Split into two sides, the West is where you’ll find the more formal dining room, with an NY grill-inspired menu of rotisserie and steaks. East, on the other hand, is more laid-back and vibey. Think lounge bar with sofas and low tables, as well as posers on stools. It all kicks off here with afternoon tea, while later in the day it’s where you’ll find live bands and DJ sets (temporarily suspended). READ MORE
Address: Level 32, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY | Opening times: East: Wed-Fri 5-12pm, weekends 12pm-12am; West: Wed-Fri 5.30-11pm, weekend brunch 12-3.30pm | Cuisine: NY Grill | Price: £15+ for a starter, £35+ for a main/£25 vegetarian | Brunch? Yes, starting at an eye-watering £70pp for a selection of starters, drinks pairing, one main from the dinner menu and a dessert platter for the table | Afternoon tea? Yes, from £42 | Sunday lunch? No | For more information, or to book, visit their website here.
Picking one of the higher Shard restaurants means your bill is likely to follow suit. As such, Hutong is most certainly one for special occasions. However, if the dollar’s there, it’s a pretty special place. A near replica of the original restaurant in Hong Kong, it’s moodily lit and full of the same carved dark woods and red Chinese lanterns, not forgetting a wishing tree inviting you to take a punt at your hopes and dreams (like a couple of zeroes off the bill). The menu is an eclectic mix of Sichuan and Northern Chinese dishes. As well as five different types of dumplings (one of which is stuffed with rosé Champagne-soaked shrimp), you’ll find all sorts of fried, sautéed, and slow-cooked meat; seafood such as their Sichuan-style deep-fried lobster; plus a refreshing number of veggie dishes (the aubergine tempura and kung po tofu are worth ordering). The drinks list is equally impressive, with cocktails like the Peking Old Fashioned, mingling chocolate bitters and roasted sesame syrup with Peking duck-infused cognac. Alternatively, the wine-list spans eleven pages (and the world), with a tidy 27 Champagnes.
Address: Level 33, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY | Opening times: Lunch: Tues-Sun, 12-2.30pm; Dinner: Mon-Sun 6-10.30pm | Cuisine: Northern Chinese | Price: ~£15 for a starter or dumplings, Mains £35+ | Brunch? No | Afternoon tea? No | Sunday lunch? No | For more information, or to book, visit their website here.
Whilst the name derives from the Chinese word for living room, beyond the occasional sofa strewn with pillows, it feels much more like what it is – a pretty large hotel restaurant – to us. Technically part of the Shangri-La hotel here, the Shard’s 35th floor restaurant serves an intriguing mish-mash of British and pan-Asian dishes, from rollmops and steak to chicken satay and Pad Thai. Their afternoon tea earns them a cool point, serving up more than thirty teas alongside the usual silver-plated tower of sandwiches, scones, and cakes, currently inspired by pop art. They also have a pretty huge wine list (cool point number two), so whether you’re in it for a £9 glass of Garnacha Blanca or a £1,320 bottle of vintage Cristal, they’ve got you covered. See? Just like a regular living room.
Address: Level 35, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY | Opening times: Breakfast: weekdays 6.30-10.30am, weekends 6.30-11am; all-day dining daily 12-10.30pm | Cuisine: European & Pan-Asian | Price: Lunch set menu from £29 or five-course tasting dinner menu for £73; or £13+ for a small plate and £18+ for a main | Brunch? No | Afternoon tea? Yes, from £59 | For more information, or to book, visit their website here.
Found on the 52nd floor of the Shard, GŎNG is officially the highest hotel bar in Western Europe, the penthouse of hotel bars. And like any self-respecting penthouse, it’s made up a number of ‘intimate chambers’; a cocktail bar, a Champagne bar …and an infinity swimming pool (…sadly only open to hotel guests). Taking inspiration from the ‘dragon red’ walls of Chinese Imperial Palaces (made from cinnabar, a mineral believed to enhance positivity), as well as the boudoirs of the West, it borders both sexy and, to be frank, a little sleazy. The bars are grey marble, surrounded by scarlet red stools and decorated with tall silver vases filled with pom poms of red roses; or there’s a number of low tables with tea lights and grey patent leather pouffes. Wherever you’re sitting, the drinks menu makes for pretty neat reading. Designed to ‘interlock’ with one another, they share various ingredients to promote sustainability – think Chocolate & Eucalyptus or the whisky-laced Butter & Sage. Plus, there are a number of top-notch Champagnes available by the glass – and, should you get hungry, there are small plates too, like sashimi and maki rolls, prawn tempura and beef tataki. READ MORE
Address: Level 52, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY | Opening times: Wed-Thurs 4pm-12am; Fri-Sat 12pm-1am; Sunday 2pm-12am | Price: Cocktails/Champagne by the glass £20+ | Brunch? No | Afternoon tea? No | For more information, or to book, visit their website here.
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