Nowadays there are two main restaurant breakfast options at the Shard – in Aqua on the 31st floor and at the Shangri La Hotel’s virtually brand new Ting restaurant on the 35th. Given that Ting charges almost twice as much for its English breakfast (£32), our breakfast price comparator, than Aqua, we settled for the latter where a full English costs £17.50, still on the pricey side – but then you are paying a premium for the spectacular views. However in defence of the Shangri La, the Ting breakfast includes toast, pastries, juice and coffee or tea which Aqua’s does not so the pricing may really be a little closer in reality if one wants all the extras. Maybe some other time, but on this occasion we felt one Shard restaurant was enough.
As we noted when we covered the three original Shard restaurants for their dinners, Aqua’s spectacular views start as you descend the open staircase from the 32nd floor lift level to the restaurant level, with the City of London stretched out before you. On a fine day it has to be one of the most spectacular entry points for any London restaurant and certainly one of the best in the world.
Aqua has various restaurant sections with different views. It appeared to just use the one main area for breakfast with views to the west and north (towards Westminster and the City) and it was reasonably busy when we visited with most tables occupied at 9.30, although we suspect it would have been possible to find a table as a walk-up – or in any case one probably wouldn’t have to wait long for one in the comfortable bar area with the day’s newspapers available if one did have to wait.
There are some interesting choices on the menu – and given the views what Aqua describes as its Express Breakfast – coffee, tea or juices and pastries does seem to be particularly good value at £9. Indeed in view terms Aqua probably has it over the other contenders given its location just south of The City and almost on the Thames.
There are also some other low cost menu items – a bacon bap or a sausage sandwich both at £8.50 under the slightly condescending title of Greasy Spoon Sandwiches.
There are a number of fruit and cereal options, ranging from £3 to £4.95, fruit cocktails (alcoholic and non alcoholic at £10.50 and £4.50 respectively) or a range of fruit punches (non alcoholic) at £4.75 to help set you up for the day. Freshly squeezed orange, apple or grapefruit juices are £4.50 a glass.
For the main items, the aforementioned Full English comprises bacon, eggs, sausage, mushroom, tomato, smoked ham hock cannellini beans, salted ricotta, hash browns and sourdough toast. More than enough to set one up for the day. There is a vegetarian version without the bacon, sausage and the ham hock smoked beans but with added avocado and spinach with brown toast at a slightly lower £14.50. Boiled eggs (with soldiers – marmite or plain) come in at £8. Eggs Benedict at £13,50. Lobster Benedict at £19, smoked salmon with scrambled eggs (£14), salmon kedgeree (£11), gammon ham and eggs (£14) and, if I am reading the menu correctly, Tattie scones comprising kippers, poached eggs and black pudding at £14.
We chose lobster Benedict and the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. I wouldn’t describe the lobster dish as exceptional – it was good though, but my colleague thought her smoked salmon and scrambled eggs excellent. But one hardly notices the food given the interesting views set out before one which tend to dominate.
I had Americano style coffee and my colleague one of the several speciality teas which was much appreciated. However as an avid coffee drinker at breakfast it would have been nice perhaps to have a cafetière or an insulated jug to top up one’s own – or even waiters with top up jugs at the ready – rather than have to re-order each time one had finished the not very large cups provided.
Service was adequate, if a bit hit and miss, with our being delivered the wrong order at first – presumably meant for another table – although this was quickly rectified.
But, as a place to take friends or relatives, or business acquaintances, or just to go for a treat and a breakfast with brilliant views Aqua is indeed a great destination. You don’t expect, or get, Michelin style presented gourmet food at breakfast at Aqua – or anywhere else for that matter, but as a place to get a good breakfast and soak up the outlook at the same time, Aqua Shard would be hard to better. Another great destination breakfast location – particularly on a very pleasant morning as it was when we went.
Aqua Shard serves breakfast from 7.30 to 10.30 Monday to Friday. At the weekends the service switches to a pricey (£48 a head) three course brunch which includes also a special breakfast cocktail.
It might be advisable to make a reservation – ask for a table by the window, although the views are pretty good from anywhere. Aqua is at Level 31, The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY. Call 020 3011 1256 or book online at www.aquashard.co.uk
Should you also be interested in visiting one of the Shangri-La Hotel’s restaurants or bars, or in checking out this spectacular hotel’s facilities on the upper floors of the Shard, click on www.shangri-la.com/london