Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Skylon SouthBank

That evening, we crossed from where we had dinner to the Royal Festival Hall in anticipation of cocktails at Skylon.  We had enjoyed a brief window of Indian summer, but now summer was well and truly over and though I don't think it was raining, the chill wind in my eyes and empty bank-side, or the feeling deep down in my heart, gave the illusion of damp pavements - as I turned up the collar on my cigar tone overcoat. 

The first floor doorway non descript and sullen opened onto a lofty space.  The fine dining restaurant and the brasserie Grill divided by a central bar were both slowly emptying, leaving a collective feeling of the end of a weekday night still conspiring to linger. And beyond this were panoramic glass panes with uninterrupted views across the River Thames.  Our seats by the window looked out onto still night.  The riverfront tables and chairs that had been laid out were slightly quaking which made you reflect on the change in season.  The once bustle and breeze of summer along the South Bank, and its bevvy of culture vultures, pre-theatre buzz and after-work loosening of ties.  The street performers that juggled or stood like statues, the second hand book stall under the bridge where I found a copy of the Old man and the sea, and being reminded of the movie Last Chance Harvey (which begins on the South Bank).  Returning to the room, something about the pristine matching uniform of the orderly staff made me think the place insipid, and when we were automatically brought glasses of water at the start, it felt like part of the pretense and the space quickly started to feel vacuous.  Then a solitary worker began in his weighted system to clear away the outside tables and chairs under darkness.

I think the cocktails or mixologist at Skylon may have an accolade - I cannot be sure.  I went for something called Aromatic Pear on the recommended list.  When it comes to cocktails my taste buds are tuned to 70% spirits and 30% other flavours - what do you think?  I don't speak as a connoisseur, just my own palate.  Too often it is tipped too far the way of 30:70, so it becomes too sweet or limp and in some cities such as Hong Kong or Munich, it is tipped too far in the other, more like 90:10 - "hard spirited for the hard working".  There are some places, you expect too much; the Long Bar at Raffles in Singapore and others where you had no expectation at all (Casa, Soho) but loved and began frequenting.  Unfortunately, Skylon felt lacking and I am afraid a once-off for me.

The Edward Hopper stillness compounded the feeling that you were maybe one of those on the inside being looked at, whilst on the inside, the best part was looking out at the magnificent city view.

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