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Thursday, 13 June 2013

Oblix, The Shard


What's the height of vulgarity? At 1016 feet, I give you The Shard. Towering over the Tower of London like a domineering Dalek, visible from Uranus, this in-ya-face macho monument to Mammon is nothing less than malevolent location-inappropriate architectural wank. I am not against tall buildings per se, just this particular example. Facilitated by flaccid  functionaries in thrall to 'visionary' cityscapers whose egos care not one jot about trashing treasured centuries-old views at every turn, The Shard is - like some child-molesting kiddie TV show host's priapic member - the vilest of vile erections. Given my antipathy to the building, will I warm to the first of its many bars, Reiner Becker's Oblix whose stand-alone lounge occupies a vast amount of expensive square footage half way up the thrusting high rise horror? Decanted from its express lift, met  by a gaggle of greeters, I'm sent off down a dark nightclubby corridor - presumably to soften you up for the 'wow' factor beyond - finally to emerge into a sleek, pared back room that is as appealing as any might-be-any-lounge-in-any-high-rise-anywhere-in-the-world-at-any-time-post-1984 can be. I'm so busy taking it all in, unusually, I let PR lady order for both of us. What mouthfuls I try - burrata, and flakey crab cakes - work well enough but, gripped by Nurofen-defying toothache, I'm past caring. Tonight's live entertainment isn't helping. Unlike the one and only Jamie Cullum CD I ever owned, chucked out of my car window when Sophie Dahl's jammy little pianist's tinkling started nipping my head when I became embroiled in the mother of all M25 jams, I can hardly do the same to a live jazz trio jamming away for Jesus on the 32nd floor. As for Oblix's cocktails, it might help if head bar honcho were to let me select my own drinks rather than land me with the likes of Acapulco gold. Good mezcal drowning in over-sweet pineapple punch? The Man from Del Monte, he say "no!" Served in a still warm (dishwasher-fresh?) glass, a sazerac, meanwhile, is not the sexiest I have ever swallowed. Better by far, is hot dollar (a brandy, apricot, chilli and lemon sour) and a fine fig Manhattan. Ah, Manhattan, enchanted playground of my youth! Its glittering skyscrapers grouped together in tight clusters, snapped onto the city's grids, are - unlike London's random interlopers - inspirational geometry to behold- the views from their upper floors bewitching (RIP Windows On The World). By contrast, from my pew in the bar at Oblix, Canary Wharf looks the business but, to the south and east.....let's just say, no matter how hot the action on Peckham streets at night, seen from on high, SE15 twinkling in the gloaming doesn't exactly rock my world. All in all, Oblix is a decent bar marooned in a location I loathe. If this skyline rapist's fate saw it dismantled, panel by wretched panel, sold off and shipped to its spiritual home, Dubai, I'd happily dance on its foundations, tearful, over-joyed, gripped by Shardenfreude. 

Level 32, The Shard, 31 St.Thomas Street  SE1 9RY