Nothing sets your expectations alight like entering a restaurant via a fast-moving lift as it whizzes up 38 floors, whisking you away from the hustle and bustle of the streets and up into the clouds (well, not quite but you get the gist). So you will be pleased to know then that , sprawled across one of the top floors of the Heron Tower, is not a disappointment.
Upon leaving the lift you are greeted with a buzzing bar area – the seated restaurant remains tantalisingly around the corner, hidden from view. A crowd of city workers, well dressed and vibrant, sit in couples and groups sipping cocktails out of various, equally as vibrant glasses. The barman beams at us as he dances around with a cocktail shaker and beyond him a terrace leads out to the twinkle of office block windows.
Once we'd given our name to the hostess and had an animated discussion about what exactly was in those cocktails, we were lead round the curved corner and into the main restaurant. An immense room with 360 degree panoramic windows, lit by what seemed like an eternity of dangling globe pendant lights, made it seem almost as if we were walking into the Great Hall at Hogwarts with its magical ceiling.
Above this starlit canopy a bamboo (though don't quote me on this) structure spans the ceiling and then curves downwards to join the floor and on the other side, vines dangle down to create a greenhouse effect without spoiling the views.
We were seated, looking out at the view, and left to the painstaking process of narrowing down our food choices to a 'reasonable amount' for two people. The menu comprises of a selection of small dishes and larger platters from decadent sushi rolls to succulent robata items, in short, it's lengthy.
Though I took my friends and family through the entire list of things we had ordered, I won't subject you to the same treatment and so will just pick out a few of the real standouts that arrived on our table.
Firstly was the Inkarri roll, a visual party of lobster, nashi pear, grilled white asparagus, truffle aji amarillo, oscietra caviar, black truffle and crispy nori. After my rather bland salad al desko just a few hours earlier, my tastebuds were at first perplexed and then delighted by the depth of flavours .
Next the crispy taquitos stuffed with yellowtail and avocado were refreshing, cleansing and a divine mixture of textures. Soft fish and smooth avocado mingled with a salty miso dressing and the crisp bite of the outer shell. The pork belly with butterscotch (butterscotch!) miso also deserves a mention and so to does the lamb chop with miso and lime.
We ate our way through the plethora of dishes with as much glee as children at an all-you-can-eat pizza and ice cream party. Each of the dishes seemed to complement one another even though they were all very different and there was no real wait time in between their delivery (they all come at different times).
For dessert we tucked into mochi balls, soft Japanese rice cake filled with ice cream served with a warm white chocolate sauce, and something called a Zen Garden which turned out to be a beautifully presented mix of yuzu curd, bergamot tea biscuits, chocolate lychee peach stones. Though indulgent the sweet section of our meal felt light and didn't leave us feeling sluggish or lethargic, which is obviously a good thing when you are about to step into a lift back down 38 floors.
We stepped back out onto the evening, just a few minutes walk from Liverpool Street Station, feeling satisfied and full. Our tastebuds were still winding down from their exuberant dinner-time dance and so we walked to the station deep in discussion about the marriage of flavours and cuisines we had just enjoyed.
It's the perfect place for a special occasion, a romantic evening or just a moment to drink in the real beauty of the city that we often miss when rushing from tube to office. It's pricey but it's worth it, and the lift ride is free.