Up on the roof
I don’t know quite what it is, but there’s something about enjoying a tipple on a rooftop that is unashamedly far more exciting than doing exactly the same in a ground floor bar. From incredible panoramic views to bustling sun-drenched terraces, there really is only one stylish way to take in the capital’s skyline this summer, and that is with drink in hand, atop one of these fabulous London rooftop bars.
by Gemma Dunn
High above the streets of London’s infamous Regent Street, Aqua London sits five floors up in one of the city’s most iconic buildings, the former Dickins & Jones department store.
An upmarket restaurant chain hailing from Hong Kong, the Aqua Restaurant Group epitomises destination dining with a blend of cutting-edge cuisines, über chic interiors and breathtaking views. Moreover, with an ethos such as this, its striking landmark destination in the heart of London’s West End could not be more fitting.
The top floor hosts two world-class restaurants, each serving up their own international cuisine to discerning diners, plus award-winning bar, aqua spirit. The first of the dining experiences is aqua nueva, a celebrated restaurant that offers its guests contemporary northern Spanish dishes, overseen by highly acclaimed chef, Alberto Hernandez. Meanwhile, the second – and the one that I had the pleasure of visiting – is aqua kyoto, a venture that exudes Japanese cool, transported straight out of Ginza, Tokyo, with its fabulous sunken sushi bar and spectacular sumibiyaki charcoal grill.
Serving up contemporary Japanese cuisine under the skill of executive chef, Paul Greening, aqua kyoto really is the perfect remedy for a sunny midsummer afternoon. Therefore, peach Bellini in hand, my colleague and I enjoyed breathtaking views from the restaurant’s sun-soaked terrace, before heading inside for a spot of lunchtime dining. Although, happily seated beside its floor-to-ceiling windows, we certainly remained in the al fresco spirit.
With the help of the attentive and knowledgeable waiter, we picked an incredible selection of dishes including prawn tempura with udon noodles, chicken and spring onion yakitori skewers with fresh truffle, wagyu sirloin beef with caramelised onion miso, a spinach salad with sesame seeds and goma dressing, plus a selection of salmon sushi rolls.
Beautifully presented and packed with flavour, the quality of each dish was just as innovative and exceptional as the next. To try to articulate the outstanding calibre of the food is near impossible, but let’s just say, it has left me planning an imminent return.
To finish, we shared an assortment of green tea, chocolate and yuzu mochi ice cream, and to follow, a spectacular forest floor, mint panna cotta with raspberry sorbet and chocolate crumble.
At aqua kyoto, each dish is a culinary masterpiece, pieced together by a series of elements that have been designed and crafted by a team of dedicated and skilled professionals. From its dramatic location to its unbeatable social terrace and matchless cuisine, Aqua London’s triumphant concept has injected something new and exciting into the London dining scene, and it is certainly deserved of every success.Aqua London 5th Floor 240 Regent Street W1B 3BR www.aqua.com.hk
Where else can you enjoy a cocktail in the clouds? Here are a few more of the capital’s rooftops bars that are well worth the hike.Vista, The Trafalgar Hotel 2 Spring Gardens Trafalgar Square
SW1A 2TS www.thetrafalgar.com Radio Rooftop Bar, ME London Hotel
336-337 The Strand
WC2R 1HA www.melia.com SushiSamba Floors 38-39 Heron Tower 110 Bishopsgate EC2N 4AY www.sushisamba.com Kensington Roof Gardens 99 Kensington High Street
W8 5SA www.roofgardens.virgin.com Coq d’Argent No 1 Poultry
EC2R 8EJ www.coqdargent.co.uk The Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden Queen Elizabeth Hall Southbank Centre SE1 8XX www.southbankcentre.co.uk OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie OXO Tower Wharf Barge House Street South Bank SE1 9PH www.oxotower.co.uk Boundary Rooftop 2-4 Boundary Street E2 7DD www.theboundary.co.uk Dalston Roof Park The Print House 18-22 Ashwin Street E8 3DL www.bootstrapcompany.co.uk Queen of Hoxton 1-5 Curtain Rd Shoreditch EC2A 3JX www.queenofhoxton.com