If you asked me what the best way to enjoy a birthday is, I would have to say FOOD. So each time a celebration comes around, I can’t resist treating those I love to a meal of their fancy.
In a couple of weeks is my lovely Auntie Jodie’s 50th birthday – I know I know she doesn’t look a day over 35 – so my Mum and I decided to take her out for a girly day in London. With none of us having ever experienced a bottomless brunch (I KNOW RIGHT) I decided it would be the perfect way to toast to feeling young and being fabulous.
I picked Skylon Restaurant’s Sparkling Sunday brunch, a deliciously tempting sounding menu with a surprisingly broad selection of dishes available for either 2 courses at £28 or 3 for £33. And of course, unlimited Prosecco for an extra £15 was nonnegotiable.
We arrived at Southbank looking for the entrance to finally discover its location up in the Royal Festival Hall. It was beautifully bright, with a buzzing atmosphere among spacious tables. A little early for our 2pm reservation we took a seat at the centre bar decorated in festive baubles, soaking in the warmth after being out in the frosty riverside air.
A short while later, our table was ready. Although not directly next to the window, we could still look out over the Thames through the wide pane of floor to ceiling windows that ran across the length of the restaurant.
Whilst our first splash of many glasses of Prosecco was poured, we nibbled on warm nutty bread with smooth salty butter and struggled to decide from the menu. I was pleasantly surprised by the range of dishes available, from Asian inspired aromas to traditional English combinations.
We each chose a different starter that thankfully we all wanted to try. My Mum picked a beautiful plate of salt baked autumn vegetables, served with pumpernickel (best name for bread ever), goats curd and coastal herbs.
The delicate presentation did the dish justice, with incredibly thought out little extras such as tiny rings of soft onion piped full of creamy goats cheese.
The birthday girl chose the celeriac velouté with apple caramel, taking a risk on a plate that sounded intriguing but delicious.
It was served as a creamy soup of celeriac, drizzled with a sweet maple flavoured sauce. Accompanying was a sweet pastry style roll textured with apple. It could almost have been a pudding if it wasn’t for the earthy flavour of the celeriac.
I picked the seared yellowfin tuna. Three thin sliced of silky soft tuna were precisely decorated with sesame, wasabi, ponzu and black radish. It was one of the best starters I’ve had to date, with each ingredient bringing a level of fresh, rich flavour to the dish.
As our glasses became full again, we ordered our mains. Both my Auntie and Mum toyed between a rich sounding duck dish and the suckling pig, each deciding on the latter. Slow roasted suckling pig belly was served with chervil root and a honey and mustard jus. It was on the small side yet perfectly cooked and left them both with room for dessert.
They each also ordered a side of buttered curly kale topped with caramelised pecan nuts. This was a generous bowl of crispy yet tender kale and a sweet drizzle.
I on the other hand can’t resist a roast on a Sunday and so picked the roast beef craving a Yorkshire pudding. A bowl of seasonal carrots, parsnips and cabbage were topped with two generous slices of juicy sirloin beef, a handful of roast potatoes hidden underneath. Atop was a flat yet perfectly crisp pud, ready for soaking up the quick dash of gravy that was poured as the dish was placed in front of me.
All in all I was impressed. The beef was beautiful and the vegetables perfectly cooked. The potatoes could have been crispier but then I am a perfectionist when it comes to my Christmas spuds. The best flavour of the dish was the sweet, rich gravy of which I soaked up every drip.
As we nattered away, giggling out loud, our Prosecco flutes well and truly stayed bottomless. With a small space for dessert, we eyed up the sweet menu again each picking a different pud. Jodie picked the lavender panna cotta, served with olive oil shortbread. Despite being beautifully smooth, the panna cotta was only sprinkled with lavender and instead was more vanilla scented.
Mum chose a rich chocolate and pecan brownie, dressed in chocolate crémeux and milk ice cream. It was darkly rich and although less fudge-y than we bake our brownies, it was ultimately delicious.
Lastly I picked the white chocolate mousse topped with poached figs and lime. The brandy snap came as a crumble, a surprising presentation yet it added a lovely bit of crunch. This was perhaps the best dessert. The white chocolate flavours were obviously made from top quality ingredients to create a silky smooth mousse with soft sweet figs.
As our empty plates were whisked away, our waiter returned with clean spoons, much to our confusion. A minute later, a lovely chocolate filled plate of celebration wishes was presented to the birthday girl. Surrounding a beautifully piped message was a pyramid of dark smooth chocolate mousse with a crisp coating and dots of chocolate ganache with precariously balanced berries.
After licking the plate clean we were then brought a wheel of petit fours. Somehow our stomachs managed to each fit in a salted caramel truffle with raw cocoa dusting and a melt in the mouth citrus jelly, the perfect finale to our feast.
After over 2 hours of dining, our never-ending Prosecco saw its final pour, perhaps for the best! As we looked around we suddenly realised the skies had darkened and with it, brunch was sadly over.
I have to say upon reflection that I was incredibly impressed with the quality of food and level of service at Skylon, particularly for the value of money. I will definitely be back, particularly for a pre-theatre meal before a Southbank performance, enjoyed overlooking the river.