Located at the top of Millbank Tower, Altitude 360º is normally only available for private events. However one of the advantages of following Twitter is that it can point you in interesting directions. Reading a tweet about brunch in Altitude 360º made me want to check it out, which is when I discovered their brunch deal for £39 available until December 19th.
Included in the brunch price you also get a 360º tour of London. Something the students who invaded the building a few weeks back got for free (without the professional guide).
We arrived at Millbank Tower Reception, where we were asked to wait, before being escorted to the lift in single parties. This process makes sense as it ensures that you can be taken directly to your table when you arrive on the 29th floor. Remembering your table number is important as it is a large room and I did get a bit confused when I accidentally almost sat down at the wrong table after returning from the buffet. It’s a difficult room to make attractive or warm; it comes across pretty much as a typical 70’s style open plan office space, tarted up like a pop up restaurant (which I guess it sort of is). However it’s the view most people will come here for, and I have to admit this place pretty much lived up to my expectations on that front. Great views, but and it’s a big but, there does seemed to be a direct correlation between views and food quality, i.e., the better the view the worse the food tends to be.
The Gherkin is one of the rare exceptions to this “rule”. Altitude 360º unfortunately is not.
OK, it was not all bad, the Egg station being the highlight. We enjoyed our Eggs Benedict and Eggs Royal, they were made to order while we took in the views. But the Roast station had to be one of the most basic carveries I have seen in a long time and the organic breakfasts ordered from the kitchen were definately the low point. We waited a while for them, and when the breakfasts finally arrived, they were so not worth the wait. Indeed they looked and tasted as if they had been under the Salamander Grill for a bit too long. I am afraid we barely touched them.
My companion had no interest in the very basic roast selection, so thought she would try one of the two pasta dished on offer, unfortunately they had run out (at 1 o’clock!).
The waiting staff came across on the whole as inexperienced (perhaps they were more used to providing the service for corporate events rather than a buffet service), in that coffee top ups and cutlery had to be asked for on more than one occasion. The waiting staff although friendly had no interest in asking us if we were enjoying our food as they cleared away nearly full plates. However I did chat to one of the “greeters” in the reception area regarding the advertised 360º tour by a comedian/historian. He was not able to answer my questions immediately but did make an effort to come to our table and explain the procedure to us, after he had found out. He then became the first person to ask us what we thought of the brunch. We provided our constructive criticism and he very professionally apologised and offered us a couple of complimentary cocktails.
The dessert station was also not that exciting, again a fairly basic selection. The chocolate cake was nice, but way too rich for my taste. I really needed something light at that stage, and the fruit on offer did not look very appetizing.
At 3 o’clock we joined the tour, where a group of about 12 people crowded round the corner windows while Tony Dunn provided us with historical snippets and information on future building projects such as The Shard. Not entirely sure why he is billed here as a Comedian/Historian as the tour was not really comedic. It was, and I mean this in a positive way, like having a historical walking tour of London indoors, protected from the elements.
After the tour, rather than rush off, we took advantage of the crêpe and pancake station, which by this time no longer had a queue. This was another highlight. We relaxed on the comfy chairs, read the newspapers and tucked into the freshly made light and fluffy waffles.
The cost of the brunch and the tour as I mentioned earlier is £39.00, which based on the quality of the food did not seem worth it initially, until we analysed it – A cocktail on arrival, the tour and the option of effectively having breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, over the space of several hours. Yes maybe it was worth £39.00. However and this is the scary part, the £39 is a discounted price, the full price is £97. Sorry, but in no way would that have been acceptable. I have a bench mark for what a top end brunch should be, and that is the one provided in the Winter Garden at the Landmark – which by the way, costs a little less than that, and involves unlimited good quality champagne and a superb selection of dishes.
So although it was interesting to visit Altitude 360º. I have to say, it is not somewhere I would consider returning to. It’s just not special enough, which is rather sad considering its unique location.
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UPDATE : This place is now called TheView @SkyloftLondon