Sea Containers: Ushering In Summer With A Serious Thames Terrace

Sea Containers ★★★☆☆

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Sea Containers: Ushering In Summer With A Serious Thames Terrace Sea Containers 3
Sea Containers: scallop carpaccio and Thames views. Photo by Lydia Manch.

It's a thoroughly well-trodden location. If you're a Londoner, chances are you've walked past Sea Containers London already and often, taken in the views opposite at an admiring but brisk London-never-sleeps pace of trot.

Being static, though. Not en route somewhere: just... soaking in the Thames views, in central London, from a fixed point. That's some serious luxury.

Year-round it's a luxury Sea Containers Restaurant offers up only via the big stretch of floor-to-ceiling windows running along the edge of the Thames; for summer the venue's busted out a riverside terrace in partnership with Laurent-Perrier, for when you want your aperitivo to come with a side of vitamin D and uninterrupted views of St. Paul's.

Sea Containers: crabby toast. Photo by Lydia Manch.

The terrace menu's briefer and lighter than the restaurant's, more fancy snacks than sprawling dinners. And boy, they are fancy. Pedestals of oysters and lobster, scallop carpaccio served in a seashell on a bed of crushed ice.

Man cannot live by river views alone, and we reckon the best of both worlds is a table just inside the restaurant — hello, longer menu and more substantial dishes — but by the French windows, which open onto the terrace and stay pulled open in good weather. All the views of being al fresco, all the chilli-honey skirt steak pleasures of being in the restaurant.

For all the ornate presentation and hint of oligarch about the menu, the food itself's surprisingly delicate. Ceviche tacos let the sea bass sing through a thin slick of salsa. The crab and avocado starter plays like a crabbier guac-on-sourdough rather than the fancy, 70s-esque canapé we're expecting; and it is great. The surprise dazzler is the kale, sweet potato and cashew salad, rich and warming and hefty enough — with an £11 price tag that, at Sea Containers prices, sounds like side dish territory — to make a main dish in its own right.

Less dazzling: the apricot and pistachio millefeuille, chewy and a little tough rather than light and crisp. Eaten but immediately eclipsed by the avocado cake, a vegan cheesecakey affair with a grainy, seedy base that makes it feel rich and oddly wholesome at the same time.

There are cheaper places to pause along this stretch of the Thames. There are free places to pause. But if you feel like dropping some cash on your St. Paul's-gazing spot, you could do far worse than spend it on than some sea bass tacos, some crabby toast and a seat by the Sea Containers windows.

The Laurent-Perrier Sea Containers Terrace is open till the end of summer. Sea Containers Restaurant, 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD.

Last Updated 16 January 2020