One of the constant delights of London living is that no matter how long you have lived there you are always discovering ‘new’ places to visit and things to do in areas that you thought you already knew inside out. I had such an occasion last Saturday when I was looking for a suitable restaurant to go to for a pre-Shard visit luncheon with the Girlfriend and family.
As the Shard straddles London Bridge Station, Borough market was the obvious choice of dining location with its great range of restaurants and cafés - many of which I am already well acquainted with. However, wanting to try something different I did the usual online search routine and settled on The Banana Store http://www.bananastore.co.uk. It’s entrance is on Winchester Walk (which I have used many times traversing from the market to Bankside/Tate Modern etc) and yet I never noticed it until now.
Located in a late 19th Century Market building, you descend from the street into a small and welcoming basement restaurant that used to be used to store bananas as they came off the docks. The staff are very friendly and the menu extremely tempting. They proudly source the majority of their ingredients from the market and there is obvious pride in the freshness of their produce. Accordingly, the menu changes on a daily basis.
On our visit we pretty much tucked into and enjoyed every starter on offer but I was declared ‘the winner’ with my choice of Crispy Pork Rillete with spiced apple sauce. As well as great fresh ingredients, the Banana Store chef cooks meat to perfection, from steak to duck there was not one complaint from our table. My Cod with Squid ‘bolognaise’ positively glistened on the plate and was delicious on the palate. Indeed the only downside to our meal was that our indulgence of multiple starter sharing meant that there was not quite enough room to fit in dessert so I cannot offer an insight into their quality but I would be surprised if they were of any less standard than the starters and mains. The wine list offered some nice selections at reasonable prices and we had a very enjoyable Sancerre. There are no Yapp references as yet but the year is young...
All in all we had a great lunch and it put us in good stead as we transferred from our subterranean setting to 800 feet above ground level, surveying the sprawl of London from The Shard’s viewing platform on the 72nd floor: http://www.theviewfromtheshard.com.
Being a Londoner, I have watched with interest as this impressive building rose slowly above the London skyline over the past 3 years and I was first in the queue when tickets were put on sale for visiting the public viewing platforms. At £25 a go (for adults) it is not the cheapest of London attractions, but it is certainly worthwhile in my view. There is sensible management of entry ‘timeslots’ which regulates the flow of people so you are not left feeling too crowded when you are up there. This leaves plenty of space for viewing (or attempting to) your house, workplace, neighbour’s illegal extension… instead of having to put up with the back of Art and Trudy Funkweiser of Milwaukee’s heads as is often the case with London’s more crowded attractions. There are several digital telescopes on all sides, offering real time, night view and clear day view (should you be unfortunate with the weather on your visit) and you can stay for as little or long as you like. We were there for about an hour before the younger element of our group started getting restless.
With reports of many weekends already sold out this year I am sure that this will become as much of a London must see as the London Eye in time so grab a ticket while you can.