Atop Centre Point, a surprisingly – but not disagreeably – plain and straightforward dining room, with one of the finest vistas in town.
To visit the landmark which is Centre Point is to be taken back to a different, poorer London. The building (completed in ’66) may at the time have been perceived as a sign of thrusting optimism, but today’s visitor’s immediate impression is how poor the building ‘spec’ was compared to what we accept as the norm today. Call that sad little thing an entrance? Where’s the atrium?
And so it is when you ascend to the 28th floor. The low ceiling. The lack of finish. Did you know that, back in the ’60s, they apparently regarded emulsion (paint!) as an acceptable wall finishing, even in ‘prestige’ projects?
Even dolled up for its new life as a restaurant (having recently been a club), this is still a plain space, with plain décor and plain (and very ’60s-looking) furniture. If this has been the original executive lounge after the construction of the building – we know it wasn’t, as the building famously remained vacant for many years – one imagines that this is just how it might have felt. (Compare with Madison Avenue – as recently depicted in ‘Mad Men’ – and you can see just how much more comfortable ’60s office life must have been in New York than it was in London.)
Whereas the dining room, however, could convincingly pass for ’60s in a movie, the view could not. The vista here – of the ‘new’ City, and Canary Wharf in full panoply – is ‘up there’ with the one from Galvin at Windows. It makes a great setting for a business lunch.
Indeed, the place seems all the more practical as a business lunch venue because the lack of fuss that surround the whole operation is entirely in keeping with the décor. The service is pleasant, and efficient enough, but devoid of pretensions, and the food is likewise.
Our entirely straightforward lunch included a chicken salad (which, for those of us of a certain age,was a bit too reminiscent of what we used to see on mum’s Robert Carrier cookery course cards), a decent soup, an excellent pork chop and a reasonable bit of skate.
Given the view, the price of the three-course set lunch (unadorned as it was) at £23, seemed entirely reasonable.
How would the formula stack up at night? We’d be interested to go back then, when the vista will change, the décor will fade to relative insignificance, and, Ã la carte bills will be higher. But, for first-time visitors, we suspect that view will always carry the day.