Never mind the Oblix


Restaurateur Rainer Becker raised eyebrows recently when he announced in The Times that he priced his menu at Oblix deliberately high to dissuade certain undesirable “Shard tourists”. They aren’t missing much, says Monisha Rajesh

Never mind the Oblix

My heart sank when I heard that we were going to Oblix for a friend’s birthday. The vertiginous likes of SushiSamba, Paramount, and Duck and Waffle usually attract two types of diner: nouveau riche numbskulls who don’t notice the direct correlation between superior views and inferior food, and those who are so busy Instagramming their snapped peas julienne and “checking in” to @SushiSamba to realise that the highlight of the night was the lift ride up. The only exception I can think of is Hutong, which I adore.

I suspected that I was going to spend around £80 on food I didn’t like – but I was wrong. I spent £96, and I hated it.

I suspected that I was going to spend around £80 on food I didn’t like – but I was wrong. I spent £96, and I hated it

We began in the adjoining bar, where a Russian escort vomited down my friend’s jeans, an incident undistinguished by an offer to pay the laundry bill or even an apology from the four Egyptian men being thus escorted. The staff hastily led us to our table; this involves traipsing through the kitchen, a design that is supposedly to draw diners into the “energy” and the “action” of the prepping and cooking, but felt more like being in a particularly bad episode of C.S.I. where we would part the hanging carcasses and find a body stashed at the back.

Following the waitress reminded me of Wednesday nights at China White circa 2004, where as you tailed behind a hostess with a face like a slapped arse, you were filled with a misplaced sense of gratitude at being granted access to the inner sanctum where you were now free to spend heart-thumpingly huge sums of money. Out on the restaurant floor once more, the waitress led us to what seemed to be the only table with a truly jaw-dropping, panoramic view of a set of bookshelves. When we requested another, she sniggered that they had been booked “faaaah in advance”.


“The night could only have been worse had someone thrown themselves out of a window”

Fifteen minutes later, our cocktails were transferred from the Vomit Bar, by which point we had forgotten about them and were already engrossed in a brewing argument with a waiter who, when I asked for the sommelier, insisted that he wouldn’t be able to tell me anything more than he already had. So we had the magnum of Rioja. Yes, really, a magnum.

From tuna tartare to flat bread and olives, every starter on the menu was cold, aside from the £19 fish cakes which looked like two old oat biscuits. The eight of us shared a Caesar salad scattered with pine nuts, and the smoked salmon flat bread with cream cheese and chives, about which the best I can say is that it tasted much like Philadelphia. We then decided to pair up to share the rib-eye on the bone. I ordered mine rare; it arrived medium, so I stopped the waiter and the conversation went as follows:

“Excuse me, sorry, I asked for my steak rare and it looks a bit overdone.”

“No you didn’t.”

“Um, I did, because I always have my steak rare, and I definitely asked for it rare this time.”

“No you didn’t. I have it written down.”

Given that we had waited close to 25 minutes between the starters being cleared and the rib-eyes being served, I decided to just get on with it. I started to slice off the steak and had my nose in the different jugs of sauces (which no one had explained were chimichurri, green pepper and béarnaise respectively), when the waiter returned, along with his superior, and thrust a notepad under my nose.

“You didn’t order the rare steak, I wrote it down.”

I couldn’t recall a more awful dining experience in recent times

Now, I was a waitress for many years and the rule is this: You. Take. The. Plate. Away. But instead he bitched to his superior within my earshot and proceeded to bang into my chair on two separate occasions. His superior then defended his colleague, with no apology. I can’t even remember if we had desserts; all I remember was that the bill of £96 per head made me want to re-enact the performance of the Russian escort, and that I couldn’t recall a more awful dining experience in recent times. The night could only have been worse had someone thrown themselves out of a window, and at that point the most likely candidate was me.

Oblix needs to get its act together. The food is awful, the service atrocious and the attitude stinks more than my friend’s jeans did. Until then, save your money, visit the Shard’s viewing platform and then head down to a little restaurant across the road – the one with the yellow arches at the front. C


Oblix, Level 32, The Shard, 21 Saint Thomas Street, London SE1 9RY
020-7268 6700;