Test Drives

seabirdThe gorgeous outside terrace

So what do we need to know about Seabird?

It's one of three rooftop restaurants to open in London within a few weeks of each other (the others are Allegra and the just-opened Decimo). Taking over the 14th floor of The Hoxton, Southwark - it's a joint venture between the hotel and Joshua Boissy and Krystof Zizka of popular Brooklyn spot Maison Premiere.

Where exactly is it?

You'll find it on Blackfriars Road - a few minutes walk towards the river from Southwark Station.

Where should we meet friends for a drink first?

The Maison Premiere crew are pretty famous for their cocktails, so you could always come straight here. We'd certainly recommend The Trembler that we had (Tabernero Pisco, pomegranate, Pedro Ximinez, walnut - £15). But if you're after a drink to get you noticed, then The Toucan Do-It (Tapatio Blanco tequila, mango, cinnamon, aji pepper) comes in a ceramic toucan. Of course. 

Otherwise, you could pop into the ground floor lobby bar at the hotel or grab a glass of wine at Blackfriars Wine Bar just down the road.

Where should we sit?

Honestly, we really faffed over this - and it's a testament to the niceness of the manager that she didn't just tell us to "get over ourselves and pick somewhere now for the love of God!" The room is a corker of a dining room, one of the best we've seen so far this year, offering gorgeous skyline views over London from every table. There are some nice tables for two with a view over the Shard and some larger ones looking out over the terrace.

The terrace is massive too - plus it's heated and has a cover. They probably won't be setting that up for food service at this time of year in case the heaven's open. It's not quite horizontal rainproof.

seabirdThe dining room - with the counter dining shellfish bar to the left

And the food?

There's a big seafood focus - including what they say is London's largest oyster selection. Style-wise it's broadly Mediterranean in focus and the chefs looked to San Sebastian for their dessert inspiration (more of that later). It would be easy to stick to platters of chilled seafood, but there's also a lot on offer that's cooked on the plancha.

So first, oysters?

You bet. There's a separate oyster menu - which, on the day we visited, had no fewer than 15 to choose from, covering England, Ireland, France, Holland, Jersey and Portugal. We went for half a dozen - trying some Jersey Pearls, Gillardeau and Carlingford Lough. Our waiter previously worked at Wright Bros, so he was able to talk us through the selection and help us pick the ones we'd like the most.

seabirdHalf dozen oysters - picked from what they say is London's longest oyster list

And then the rest?

As well as the crudo and charcuterie, there's a large selection of small plates, filled with very tempting choices. We'd advise ordering a couple of dishes at a time from this, before ordering from the grill or plancha - just to avoid being swamped (i.e. the usual way we recommend ordering small plates). Here's what we had:

seabirdDestined to be the most instagrammed dish here - the octopus roll with sobrasada and padron pepper (£13.50) - I mean, just LOOK at it.

seabirdAtlantic prawns (£10) - I know everyone's going for carabineros at the moment in London, but we'd forgotten just what a glorious thing a bowl of super sweet fresh prawns could be.

seabirdDevonshire crab bunuelos with saffron aioli (£12.50) a mixture between a fritter and a doughnut, these were stuffed with crab and served with an intensely good aioli.

seabirdSea bream crudo (£18) - a crunchy and colourful plate layered with texture from the romesco to the tapenade and the red pepper tartare.

seabirdIberico pork presa (£22) - we felt we had to at least try one meaty dish, and this came served with an autumnal collection of creamed celeriac, apple and seasonal mushrooms.

What about the vegetarian options?

If you stick to the small plates and plancha there's plenty to choose from. They do a Norfolk hispi cabbage on the grill served with a bean stew and chestnut crisps (£16) - or there's heritage carrots with goat's curd, walnuts and honey. We loved this particular one...

seabirdFava beans with herbs, egg and breadcrumbs (£6) - a really inventive side dish

Right, onto the desserts

Because we were mainly eating seafood, we still had plenty of room for dessert. There are just three to choose from - all at £6 - in addition to the two below you could also order a lemon granita with chantilly cream and izarra liquor.

seabirdManchego cheesecake - yes it's inspired by La Viña in San Sebastian, but this version is - whisper it - maybe a little better. The final touch of shaving Manchego over it elevated it to a whole new level of dessert and we're still dreaming about it.

seabirdBola de berlim - two doughnuts, one filled with pistachio ricotta, the other with crema Catalana. Good, but not as great as that cheesecake.

And to drink?

The exclusively European wine list features a large selection of biodynamic wines from a range of small-scale producers. We had a carafe of their bestseller to date - a Muscadet from Domaine de la Pepiere (£31) and it was just the ticket. 

Overall thoughts:

Let's not beat around the bush. We loved Seabird. From the Miami-style decor to that view of the London skyscene and maybe some of the most on-point service we've had here for ages - this is a restaurant that's come roaring out of the gate and ready to make Londoners go gaga for it. Our only regret was that that the weather here was too cold when we visited to have pre or post-lunch drinks on the fabulous terrace.

But from the food, to the look, to the general scene-y-ness of it all, this is a superb restaurant.

 

More about Seabird

Where is it? 14th Floor, 40 Blackfriars Rd, South Bank, London SE1 8PB

Find out more: Visit the website or follow the restaurant on Instagram @seabirdlondon.

Hot Dinners dined as guests of Seabird. Prices correct at time of publication. 

 

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