"The view is as good as ever, the interiors stylish, but is is value for money?"Review Rating: Reviewed by KimT
I was a huge fan of the People's Palace. I remember seeing the incredibly young Gary Rhodes there years and years ago...The food then was fabulous and I would happily take smart business folk and my hip hop friends there (not in the same party!) knowing everyone would find it cool....
So with some trepidation, I finally summoned up the courage to try out Skylon with a long standing friend who used to business lunch with me in People's Palace days. We had both read the reviews and were braced for disappointment.
For a weekday lunchtime I was surprised that it was so quiet. Then I was shocked to find that my olive green top (which I thought was SOOOO on trend) matched the carpets and seat covers of the retro 1950s interior. Talk about merging into the background...But I was fascinated by the cane and orchid sculptural things in the centre of the room and the central bar was magnificent.
Making a rapid recovery, I turned my attention to the menus while a waiter kindly poured water into my brown glass (at first I thought there was something in it - like a cordial - coloured glass is a real novelty!). There was a la carte fixed price or lunch fixed price.
I focused on the fixed price lunch menu and selected goats cheese mousse for a starter and then a saffron and vegetable linguine for the main. Well, the names were much posher than that but I didn't have a pen handy...While I waited in happy anticipation I was treated to some scrumptious pesto bread...
No sooner had I put a mouthful of starter in my mouth than I was asked how everything was. I managed to say "Fine" without spitting out any food. My companion seemed happy with his choice too. We ate. We savoured. I am not sure that frothy white cheese flavoured mousse was such a good idea - especially not with the pickled red cabbage that it came with. Oh well, it was a gastonomic first so I waited for my main course.
By this time, a few other waiting staff had passed by (not exactly on their way as we were tucked into a corner) to enquire how everything was. Fine I said with a smile.
My linguine arrived. Now I know I commented on the olive green decor and you will probably think I am colour fixated but my linguine was radioactive pea green. We are talking bright, bright, bright. Almost neon. I thought saffron (from little crocus flowers) was yellow...maybe I had sudden onset colour blindness...Anyway. It tasted ok. Not spectacular. Not amazing. Not even memorable. Just OK. Had they knitted this linguine into the tidy little rectangle it came in?...it reminded me of the grandmas knitting shredded wheat on that TV ad. It was a tad dry and crunchy too. Mind you, I had, by this stage reported that things were "Fine" to a few more solicitous enquiries from waiting staff. At this point my companion - a mild mannered man if ever there was one - politely asked the waiting staff if they would stop asking how we were so that we could actually finish a sentence or mouthful without interruption.
But I said to him, hey, you really know you are in London with such attentive and polite staff. In Paris they would rather have their eye poked out with a sharp stick before asking how you were...and the Italians in Rome would draw up a chair to the table and join the meal while introducing their family...
Anyway. The bill came to around £58. That's two fixed price starters and two main courses, no sides, a bottle of mineral water (I know I am supposed to have tap water now but old habits die hard) and one glass of white wine - plus service. Is that good value? Well, it would have been if the food was fabulon rather than skylon...and it's still cheaper than my other favourite there - the Oxo Tower.
However. The most important thing is that one of the main attractions of this fabulous South Bank eaterie is the view - and they simply couldn't spoil that, even if they tried. So I sat and enjoyed my view of a grey, rainy and rather blustery Thames - exactly as it should be!
KimT reviewed Skylon on Fri 25 Jul 2008