It’s my birthday.
Okay, it’s definitely no longer my birthday. But, I successfully dragged it out for as long as possible, celebrating with as many friends and family that were willing to indulge in more cake with the perfect excuse.
Leaving home always leaves me with a little bit of sadness. It’s not that I’m not looking forward to returning to my home away from home and I do love being greeted by the site of the Thames with London’s lovely skyline. But, I obviously spend my days across the pond missing friends and loved ones that I’ve collected along the way.
The sadness however, was this time replaced with excitement. And jet lag. Lots and lots of jet lag.
I was told dinner was at 8.30pm.
Let me first tell you, I am never surprised. I always have an inkling of an idea, a possible guess, or know full well what’s going on. It’s not that I don’t love a surprise, because I definitely do. I just happen to equally enjoy playing private investigator and have a very persuasive skill of persistence. This was the first time I had absolutely no idea where I was going. Blame it on the jet lag, the lack of sleep or even the transatlantic journey, but I couldn’t figure it out.
I landed at Heathrow at 6.30am and gazed sleepily out of the back of the cab, mentally making the transition back to this side of the world. I spent the morning and afternoon lounging around and attempting to unpack. You know when you take everything out of your suitcase and become engrossed by purchases or products, ending up altogether distracted and surrounded by mountains of things?
Soon enough it became time for my date. I was told to wear something nice as I was going to be taking lots of pictures. This revealed nothing.
It was then revealed we’d be meeting at Bank station. I now had an area to go by, but admittedly wasn’t coming up with any ideas.
I was greeted at the station by a rather dashing looking date and lead down vaguely familiar streets of East London.
Chattering away and mildly distracted, I paused momentarily to snap a picture of my favourite building. There’s something about the Swiss Re building that my heart is enamoured with and my mind is inspired by. I’ve always had this affinity for the thing and when it catches my eye, peering out of the surrounding skyscrapers, it always manages to take my breath away. We continued walking and my chattering persisted. The oblivion continued until we neared the tall triangular archways at the base of the Gherkin. My date nonchalantly asked where the entrance was and my eyes lit up.
Because that’s where we’re going to dinner.
WHAT!? really? REALLY?!
A mixed slur of excitement burst out as I skipped towards the entrance with a smile plastered across my face. You know the kind that makes your cheeks hurt? Proper uncontrollable grinning from the lobby to the elevator to the hostess to the table. Searcys at The Gherkin is London’s highest private members club. However, to celebrate their 10th year inside The Gherkin, they’ve temporarily opened to the public offering a stunning 10 course tasting menu. It was completely surreal and the fact I was dining at the top of The Gherkin didn’t fully set in until we were well into dinner.
A display box arrived filled with moss held rocks with main ingredients of each course inscribed on top. This was our menu. I obviously began a snap happy evening taking pictures of anything and everything in sight. Clearly not having any fun.
It all started with a little salmon ice cream cone. This was soon followed by more picture taking and excited rambling.
In my jet lag fuelled delirium, I thought it would be funny to pretend this rock was its edible inscription. Luckily the real version came and I put away the stone. A little bowl that looked as if it was carved of ice contained lollipops of compressed watermelon with ginger and lime foam arrived. As well as tarragon and fennel on sourdough crackers.
The next dish was one of my favourites, a sweetcorn ganache with fresh asparagus and asparagus velouté. Then, a ham hock with a sort of saffron sand and pickled cauliflower. Next, a scallop served with jersey royal potatoes, peas and broad beans. This wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t as amazing as its predecessors or those that followed. It just needed a little kick, a little flavour to lighten it up as it was overall a bit dry. This was soon forgotten as the next course was phenomenal. Perfectly cooked red mullet served with bouillabaisse, leeks and bread foam was definitely a winning dish.
We paused with a palate cleanser of herb sorbet. This was bizarre, in a good way. Tart red wine vinegar topped a sweet, peppery basil for a delightfully confusing mouthful that made you squint your eyes and twist your face before going back for more. Our next course was Hardwick best end of lamb served with buttery, sweet ratte potato and mushrooms. Absolutely delicious and again, perfectly cooked.Our first dessert was different textures of pineapple topped with a light coconut mousse and a pineapple consommé poured over the top. Tropical heaven. Our second dessert and final course of the evening was a strawberry blancmange topped with champagne foam and delicate meringue cookies. This was amazingly light and a perfect end to such an incredible menu.
We received a final little taste at the end of the evening of pistachio macarons and chocolate orange truffles. Which I was obviously very excited about. We sat and discussed the menu whilst taking in the skyline, snapping some final pictures before heading up to the bar to have a 360 degree view. I was escorted away in a dreamlike state. Again, this could have been exhaustion setting in, but the evening was truly magical. I even made a new friend on the way home. He wasn’t much of a talker.
The evening was truly spectacular and was made even more special as a surprise. If you’re looking to surprise a date and literally sweep them off their feet, I couldn’t recommend Searcys at The Gherkin enough. But, be quick! This special 10 course menu is only available until the 4th of September.
Thank you for an evening I’ll never forget x