From the roof of the iconic Balfron Tower the sprawling metropolis of London extends below. Firework displays in varying magnitudes boom and twinkle between the jutting structures of Canary Wharf, The Shard and the City. The stark concrete of the Grade II listed housing project protects us from the burling wind as we sip our Somerset cider brandy and huddle together.
Yes, Grub London is back. The self-proclaimed 'established restaurant company without an establishment' has set up camp in the 24-storey Balfron Tower. Founded by architect Sam Cooper and Chef Matt Klose, the pair work to find curious locations and design a menu to fit with the season and character of the space and have recently added a catering arm to the pop-up restaurant offering. Blink and you'll miss them.
On the roof, Sam Cooper tells how he used to see the tower as he came into London as a child and pity the inhabitants of the monstrosity, but having been up here now and seeing the view, he has taken back everything he has ever said about the building. I can't help but feel that he is right as we sit by the window looking out at the view and awaiting our first of five courses.
The leek soup with oysters topped with smattering of tiny, crisp and tart cubes of Granny Smith apple is beautifully balanced and is practically inhaled by all. This was followed swiftly by a warming course of roasted shallots, homemade ricotta cheese and a subtle bone-marrow dressing and then a buoyant fish course of hake with pickled cauliflower, roasted cauliflower and capers. A succulent pheasant breast accompanied by quince and celeriac rounded off with a baked apple completed the autumnal menu. The wine pairing was fantastic and throughout the service was friendly, open and relaxed.
The whole group was seated at a long table which at once sociable and conspiratorial and we shared restaurant stories and tips in what would be the living room of the apartment. Grub London had taken over the other rooms and on the walls were photos of the Poplar area by a local photographer. The atmosphere was welcoming and kind, but it was hard to forget the transience sitting on the fold-up plastic chairs and we had been fortunate to have been in the same place as the nomadic gourmands. Grubs up, London.