I had an amazing fish dish there a while ago, but yeah sometimes one course might be overshadowed by another, which is a shame.
Reserve your table at Skylon Book a table
South Bank, London
Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
- Embankment Tube Station (0.4 km)
- Waterloo Station (0.4 km)
- Waterloo Railway Station (0.4 km)
- Contact us:
020 7654 7800
Contact via email
- Opening hours:
Grill: M-Sat 12-11pm (Sun 10:30)
Restaurant: M-Sat 12-2:30pm & 5:30-10:30, Sun 12-4pm
37 reviews of Skylon in English
On the other hand, however, the second you cross that threshold, several minions, skirted or trousered, come up to you to see whether they can help you. I'm here, I'm looking around, I am obviously either looking for a table, or a person. How big of a leap of faith can it be to offer to find me a table, perhaps?
Or if I actually talk to you, and tell you I'm looking for a table for two for drinks, _do_ give me somewhere to sit down. Pointing me to a single bar stool next to a large person that I'd be consistently bumping into, when you have two separable four-person tables going free, is not acceptable. Well. Not for me, anyway. Either you help, or you sit in your corner and try to look decorative. Got it?
So Skylon earns itself a few stars for the drinks menu, loses a few for ... well... staff. And gains a bonus one (or half a one?) for having nice semi-addictive nibbles that come with the drinks, as well as (the massive cherry on top) for bringing glasses of water!
I’ve eaten here (the restaurant) three times, all during the day and at the weekend. At this time you get a set (two or three course) menu, which works out much cheaper than if you were to dine in the evening. As a result the choice is slightly limited but there is certainly still something for everyone and I haven’t seen the same dishes offered twice.
Inside it’s beautiful and compliments the view brilliantly, while managing to not be too stuffy and formal. I found the service to be very efficient, maybe a little too efficient – sometimes its nice to be left alone for a while.
This is by far my favourite restaurant in London, the food is varied and just amazing. I’ve never left disappointed or hungry.
The only problem with Skylon is trying not to spend too much money on the good range of wine the (always great) sommelier will offer you.
EDIT: Been another few times recently = STILL AWESOME!
It is quite hard to resist popping into Skylon after visiting the NFT. The biggest draw of this place is the view. The bar resides on the second floor of the Royal festival hall and gives a stunning panoramic view of the Thames. I've only ever drank beer or champagne so wouldn't know how good the cocktails are here. It is always super busy so I recommend arriving before people finish work if you can. Two more negatives are that the staff wear really ugly uniforms and the toilets are miles away.
Skylon is a must see place in London. The cocktails and the view are not to be missed. Soak up the 1950s style and imagine you are in a swanky film. Get there at the right time on the weekend and you can just watch the river and enjoy the view of London's skyline from Skylon.
However, for a Coeliac it poses problems. Having bar snacks with cocktails is tricky as the staff are unaware of what the coating is or whether it contains gluten. Their light snack bar menu has limited options although the meat platter is pretty safe if not a bit - well on the meaty side. Lunch and dinner is also challenging. And gluten free diets for Coeliacs aside if you're not a fan of minimalist food - jog on somewhere else.
Why have we reviewed it at all? The atmosphere is unlike any other bar in London and the decor is amazing right down to the staff's space age uniform. You wish that you'd dressed up to lounge around sipping Martinis. Must see: the view Must try: the amazing cocktails Who to take: a date you want to impress Wish: they did more gluten free options.
Skylon is special, with fantastic river views, cocktails to die for and a really buzzy atmosphere.
Have knocked back a couple of swanky (and pricey - £12- £15 a pop) cocktails there over the years, I've always been gagging to eat there one day.
And, thanks to a cheapo set menu offer courtesy of the Evening Standard (£15 for 2 courses, £20 for 3, incl. glass of wine), last night I did!
Myself and five buddies ate early before heading to the National Theatre, but despite the early hour the restaurant already had a good vibe, and service was polite and efficient (question though: why are ALL the servers brunettes?!).
The selection wasn't massive with the set menu - only 3 choices per course - but my pumpkin soup was creamy and delicious (and, best of all, PIPING HOT, which is a must for me when it comes to soup. And to my my mum and dad, who will be reading this and will no doubt remind me that my carrot and coriander soup that I served up on Christmas day wasn't hot enough, so YES I'M A HYPOCRITE).
My main was duck leg with parmesan polenta and curly cale, which was also Tasty McTasty.
I must admit, however, that I always thought I'd easily give five stars to Skylon, but I think I'd have to go back there when I'm willing to spend more money to get the full, extravagant experience.
I visited the Skylon last week for the first time for a special lunch.
The views were spectacular although we did have a window seat.
Service was impeccable and staff very attentive. I must add that we went for lunch so the restaurant was not full. Maybe if evening ,service would have been different.
Every course was full of surprises, artistically prepared and a delight to eat.
The cheese board was definitely the highlight with our waiter explaining at great length how he chose the cheeses and what order we should eat them in.
I will certainly go again but only for a special occasion. Food prices were realistic for a restaurant of this quality and standard. Wine was where you could overspend.
Everyone should go for the gastronomic experience.
Great views of the Thames, shame about the rest. Went for set lunch and food is nothing that bowls you over. The only good thing was the dessert of lemon meringue tart, which had a strange small marshmallow on top for decoration (not really necessary as did not any interesting element to the dessert). Service is shockingly slow and not very attentive - they even took 10mins to bring the bill after two reminders. May recommend this place for a drink and views, but don't bother with food.
Skylon left me feeling just a bit meh. We went for the express lunch menu (£15 for 2 courses £18 for 3) and while I realise this is the cheapo option, in my opinion set lunches are supposed to act as a primer for what the kitchen could really do if you gave them a decent budget. Skylon's tables are all crammed into next to one another and I know this is to maximise the return on the view that they trail so heavily on their website but I would rather not have such a good view and not practically be sharing a table with my neighbours. Also Skylon exemplifies one of my pet hates which is making dishes sound like a complete plate of food when they're not. Take for example my main which read, onglet steak, baby new potatoes, spinach. Now I read something like that and think that I don't need to get sides because everything I would want is already on the plate. In actual fact what they've done is use the things that aren't steak as garnishes e.g. 3 slices of one tiny potato dotted artfully around the plate and the smallest dollop of spinach you can get away with. This kind of thing really annoys me and I would rather they just said steak on the menu because that's a much more truthful descriptor. Service was also fairly bad, desperately struggling to make eye contact with servers is never a good thing. Actually in this price point there are quite a few places I would rather go (both Lauceston Place and Clos Maggiore do set lunches for around £20) that are far far better. I won't be wasting my time or money at Skylon again.
All Pictures at The London Foodie
Going to the Southbank brings back memories of my college days in London in the early 90's - I had no money, and like many other university students, I scraped a living working in bars, shops or doing odd jobs. The Royal Festival Hall became a regular haunt then because of its free Jazz on Fridays and other events, and also for its well priced pints and good cafeteria food.
Built in 1951 as an exhibition and music venue for post-war Britain, the Royal Festival Hall has been a focal point for music and cultural events in London ever since. Following a £91m refurbishment of the hall and surrounding area between 2005-07, the area has now been transformed and the Hall's 1950 features sympathetically restored.
The D & D London group of restaurants, of Quaglino's and Bluebird fame, joined forces in this project to create Skylon, a single space that incorporates a stunning raised cocktail bar, a fine dining restaurant and an all-day grill. The menu is modern European with a strong British influence.
As part of the Brazil Festival at the Southbank this summer, Jose Barattino (the award-winning head chef of Hotel Emiliano in São Paulo) was invited to Skylon to introduce his modern interpretation of some of Brazil's best loved dishes, and so I went there to meet him.
My student days are long behind me and now cocktails at Skylon is one of my favourite London things to do - the raised bar gives you a great view of the surrounding restaurant and the Southbank and Thames below; it is the perfect place to soak up the elegant atmosphere of the place and for people-watching. I was pleased to see a selection of Brazilian-inspired cocktails devised by Skylon's mixologists, and Barattino's accompanying bar food on the menu.
For cocktails, I went for "Delicia" which was made from Leblon cachaca (Brazilian sugar cane spirit), Chartreuse liquor and muddled fresh strawberries and lemon. Dr G opted for "Terra Samba", served in a snifter glass, it was also made from cachaca, passoa liquor, passion fruit and fresh lime. Both drinks were priced @ £10.50 and were exceptionally well executed with some vibrant flavours.
Rather like in Spain or Portugal, in Brazil alcohol is never drunk without food. The bar food at Skylon was an excellent representation of what is served in Brazil and included "Pastel de Bacalhau" (deep fried salt-cod dumplings), "Pao de Queijo com Pernil" (cheese bread with pulled pork), "Coxinha de Frango com Catupiry" (deep fried potato dumplings with shredded chicken and cream cheese), and "Torresmo" (Brazilian style crispy pork belly).
These dishes are ubiquitous in Brazil and found from the simplest ("boteco" bars) to the most expensive eateries in the country. It was interesting to see Barattino's take on such popular dishes, and appreciate these very familiar and delicious flavours in London.
On my visit during the first week of the Festival and whilst Barattino was resident at Skylon, only the fine dining menu was available to the public at £40 and £45 for two or three courses respectively. Surprisingly, the options were in my opinion less interesting than the ones from the Skylon Grill menu which were priced at £20 and £25 for two or three courses and only available a week later. To view Skylon Grill's menu, click here.
Dr G and I shared the two available options which were "Legumes Assados com Emulsao de Castanha do Brasil" (roasted vegetables with Brazil nut sauce) and "Cordeiro Assado com Especiarias Brasileiras, Quirera de Milho e Mel Nativo" (roasted lamb with Brazilian spices, corn meal and native honey).
Both dishes were beautifully presented and delicious with very distinctive flavours. I loved the corn meal which I ate many times in Brazil as a child (mingau de fuba). It is similar to soft polenta but has a strong corn flavour and coarser texture. It was a perfect accompaniment to the deliciously tender and well seasoned lamb. I found Barattino a highly talented chef - few can bring such modest ingredients into their cooking and make them taste good and feel right in a sophisticated dish like the one I had.
From the bar menu, I also ordered a "Escondidinho de Carne Seca" (Shredded jerk beef "hidden" under a layer of cassava cream gratin) @ £7.50. I love "cassava or manioc" which was brought to Brazil by Africans and the Portuguese in the 16th century and cannot recommend it enough as an alternative to potatoes. It makes for the most fantastic chips and mash. In this dish, the cassava is creamed and combines beautifully with the salty meat underneath. This is one of the dishes I make sure to eat whenever I visit Brazil.
For dessert, we had a "Torta de Banana com Sorbet de Açai" (warm banana torte with "Açai" sorbet). I love any desserts with bananas in it, but the real surprise for me was the Açai sorbet.
Açai is a berry from the Açai palm tree which grows abundantly in the Brazilian rainforest. It perishes within one day and is 10% skin/pulp and 90% seed, and therefore large quantities are required to make any useful quantity. It is rich in anti-oxidants and omega fats and is very nutrient dense. Many healthy claims are being made about Açai as a "super food" including weight loss but I would approach this with scepticism. It has a dark purplish colour and tastes like blueberries and chocolate.
To accompany our meal, we sampled a selection of "Miolo" wines from "Vale dos Vinhedos" in Brazil. "Vale dos Vinhedos" is in the southernmost Brazilian estate of "Rio Grande do Sul". It has a much cooler climate than other northern estates and it is where most Italians and Germans immigrating to Brazil settled. It is no surprise then that "Vale dos Vinhedos" is where the best Brazilian wineries are found.
Most European grapes are grown in "Vale dos Vinhedos" including merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, and chardonnay. Miolo's sparkling wines follow the "Champenoise Methode" (second fermentation in bottle) and their wines have been garnering some national and international awards lately. These wines can only be purchased in the UK through Coe Vintners and Bibendum Wines. Miolo is considered to produce the best Brazilian wines, and is my wine producer of choice whenever in Brazil.
I was very pleased with my Brazilian meal at Skylon and for the opportunity to meet Jose Barattino who came out of the kitchen to introduce himself. He was incredibly enthusiastic about the opportunity to show his cooking in the UK, and was rather charming and unassuming.
Skylon Restaurant - http://www.skylonrestaurant.co.uk/
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, London, SE1 8XX
(020) 7654 7800
Cost: £20 and £25 (Skylon Grill) or £40 and £45 (Skylon Restaurant) for two/three course meals. Cocktails are priced at £10.50. The Brazilian menu is only available until 5th September 2010.
Likes: fantastic cocktails, great location with one of the best views of London, classic 1950's elegance makes me feel like I am on the set of " A Single Man".
Dislikes: despite the comprehensive wine list, there are no bottles below £21.
Verdict: I can think of few London restaurants that would rise to the challenge of cooking fine dining Brazilian food with such aplomb. Skylon has got it right - from the cocktails, to the choice of wine and menu, and all at reasonable prices. I can't wait to return. Highly recommended.
I visited Skylon regularly when it first launched and I was very impressed with it every single time.
Recently though I'm disappointed to see the quality go downhill fast and the prices getting increased beyond reasonable.
On the positive side:
- The view is premium and one of the best in London.
- Tables are well-spaced.
- The staff are always polite and professional
On the downside:
- The staff seem `too busy` all the time which means they dump the food on your table and then are off to do the next table. There's no attention to any of the diners.
- The cocktails are more than 50% ice which is disappointing.
- The wines are over-priced for what you get.
- However, my main gripe is that for the 3-course fixed price of £45 you expect the best. Unfortunately this has not been the case for the last few visits: I've found the food to be served cold, portions getting smaller, and when I quizzed why my fish was so salty I was surprised to hear "because it lives in the sea". I suspect more likely that the chef had an accident. Either way, I don't expect sub-standard food for that kind of price.
I like to use Skylon as a `special occasion` restaurant but when you consider the quality of the food for the price they charge there are many better options in London to choose from.
I really rate this place as a place to go for cocktails. After a sweaty couple of hours in the Royal Festival Hall following my graduation, we all trundled up to Skylon for a cool, refreshing cocktail as well as a chance to sit with some relative peace and quiet.
Skylon passed on all accounts and although we didn't dine the cocktail list was divine, very imaginative and the service was attentive.
I really want to go back when it is a little darker though, as the views across the river are spectacular and there is also more on that list that I want to try. I recommend the Mexican Love if you like watermelon.
Good place for a night out, particularly to take someone visiting London, because the views are really good and the place itself is great.
However, it may bit a bit pricey as the food could be a bit better. It is good, but not as good as its surroundings. I expected more for what you pay.
The bar area is great, and worth trying it at least the once.
Had dinner here last night. This restaurant certainly has beautiful views. We had a table by the window and it was lovely to watch the colours change on the Thames as the light went down.
We had the pre-theatre menu which had a fair amount of choice for that type of menu. The food was a bit disappointing though. Maybe it was because of the reviews this place received when it first opened but I expected something a little more exciting. We had fishcakes as main course which were adequate but the fries my friend ordered as a side were slightly soggy. The deserts were much better. My pear and chocolate tart with Guinness ice-cream was the perfect size and very good.
Given the food and despite the service (which was good - helpful but unobtrusive) and the views, I thought it was slightly overpriced for what it is.
The bar area was buzzing when we left and it's definitely somewhere I would go back for a drink if on the South Bank.
I just love Skylon, from the wonderful views across the Thames and the decor, to the snappy little uniforms the staff wear. Meals are always delicious, tho' I confess I've never opted for the expensive "dining area". We always eat in the less formal, "London Eye" side of the restaurant. The drinks are pricey and a bit of a disappointment - cocktails could really be a little more generous and not so overstuffed with ice. However, the staff are always gracious, I love the atmosphere and as I've already said, the kitchen do a great job.
This is a fantastic place to take out-of-town friends and family because of its spectacular views. The food is good, but not great and the prices are high. It is the perfect place for cocktails and nibbles, however. If you want/need to impress, then you won't go wrong here.
This restaurant is very much a case of Marmite; either you like it or you don't.
For London-style prices, you don't get London-sized portions, in that the prices are fairly costly, but the servings are paltry compared to other local eateries.
If the portions were bigger, then they'd reflect the price, and I'd be giving this review at least another star, possibly even 2.
I'm guessing the portions are to try and make it look like a hip place to be, where fashionistas and celebrities would attent, eat a lettuce leaf, and say they're full, but I'm 6'2", 182lbs, and hungry.
Aside from that though, the venue is well decorated, and the staff are always polite and helpful, even if they do sometimes seem to be darting around in a bit of a day-dream.
As for the food, it's not overly tasty, but if I was really hungry, I'd consider eating there in a real tight pinch.
Fantastic views and brilliant cocktails! But the food seems a bit hit-or-miss. I loved my endive salad as a starter and thought my slab o' steak main was more than adequate. But a few of the dishes round the table on my visit were strictly meh (I'd advise steering clear of the fish dishes).
I think this would be a good place to meet up for drinks and nibbles. And if you don't mind meandering round Royal Festival Hall trying to find the right lift (assuming it's working), Skylon is a smart destination to keep in mind when you need to impress some non-foodie out-of-towners with a stunner of a view of the Thames and the London skyline at night.
Comment 1 comment on this review
monkeytron3000, 30 November 2009:
Just fancy enough without being overbearingly snobby. It's a single large room, very high-ceilinged so as not to be too noisy. There's a bar in the middle, a "grill" on one side (quite a fancy restaurant on its own) and a fine dining area on the other side.
I was at the grill; we were lucky enough to have a table for four right by the window at night, offering great views out over the Thames and the South Bank.
Cocktails were nice but very expensive.
Food was pricey but portions varied; all were good quality and well-presented. My endive salad was balanced and acted as a true appetiser, getting me ready for more. My pork belly was very large and succulent. One of my companions had a steak that they said was very good too. Two others had a fish dish that - while tasty - was a bit on the skimpy side.
For dessert I had the best apple tartin I've ever put in my mouth.
Overall it's a really good restaurant for dates and special occasions, if not regular visits.
Went to Skylon recently for Lunch as I wanted to see how much it had changed since it was The People’s Palace when I had eaten there last. The views are great and the waiter service was impeccable.The food was cooked to perfection and was impressed by the simple yet classy presentation.Overall an enjoyable lunch.
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