In A Pickle At The Gherkin | The Sterling Bar, 30 St Mary Axe, London, EC3A 8BF
You may or may not know that a couple of weeks back we ran a competition to win a meal and drinks for two at The Sterling Bar. Our Twitter account almost went into retweet meltdown. So we thought we’d better visit to see what all the fuss was about – well it would be rude not to!
This stylish city bar sits at the base of The Gherkin (St Mary Axe), one of London’s most famous and iconic buildings, maybe this was the reason for all our competition entries? We’ve passed by the Gherkin, either by bus or on foot, 100s of times but it’s not till you get up close that you can see just how beautiful a building it really is.
Saff couldn’t make it to The Sterling (other work commitments) so I enlisted the help of my old Art Director and good friend, Sam, to test run their menu and impressive drinks list. I arrived a little late. Luckily Sam had already been seated by the friendly staff and was happy snapping away on her iPhone and posing her pics on her social media pages.
Decor at The Sterling is fairly typical of a city bar, think toned down Drake and Morgan establishments and you’re not far wrong. There is a slight colonial explorers theme going on, old black and white photos, little nic-nacs here and there a large green shutters hang on the wall. The bar area is divided up into three areas. The actual bar, a section for more casual dining and an area at the back which is probably utilised for the busy lunchtime trade. There is also an upstairs area, called The Library, with bookcase wallpaper.
We ate from the bar menu, a selection of sharing boards, small dishes, burgers and grilled sandwiches – perfect for picking at when out drinking and chatting. And believe me when Sam and I start chatting there’s no stopping us. Whilst waiting for the ‘nibbles’ to arrive we picked a couple of cocktails. I’m a sucker for Limincello, so when I saw the Ginchello (£8), I knew it was for me – a long refreshing mix of gin, limoncello (obviously), redcurrant syrup, lychee purée and prosecco. Sam ordered a classic Cosmopolitan (£7.50), she said it was a ‘good ‘un’… And she should know, she’s had enough of them!
We spread our ordering net quite wide over their menu, we wanted to try a little of everything (except the burgers and sandwiches). First up was the Charcuterie and cheese board (£19). A selection of their most popular meats and cheeses with crisp grissini, crostini and Halkidiki olives. Loved the Spanish meats especially the dense deep red fennel edged sliced ham. There were four different cheeses and all of a decent portion size, our favourites were the tangy Oxford Blue and the Manchego – although the mature cheddar was great with the onion chutney.
The Hot chicken wings (£5), were unusual. Good unusual, not weird unusual. The ‘hot’ part must refer to their temperature as they weren’t spicy in the slightest. But what they did have was an amazing crunchy, nutty coating – possibly my favourite dish. Sam ordered The Peanut butter, coconut, lemongrass and green chilli chicken skewers (£5.50 for three). These were served with watercress and a cooling lime yoghurt dressing, all the flavours fought for dominance but the coconut was victorious.
On the odd occasion when Saff and I pop into Polpo, we always order a couple of their Pizzettes – small saucer sized pizzas, just big enough for a snack. The Sterling’s Hand-Pulled Pizzettas (£5.50) were much bigger and made us both feel rather greedy for ordering on each – as one would have been big enough to share. These freshly made, hand-pulled pizzettas are topped with Italian tomato sauce and mozzarella. Mine also had spicy chorizo and a generous scattering of Guindilla and Piquillo peppers. While Sam’s was smothered in melt in the mouth Prosciutto San Daniele and Halkidiki Olives.
This mammoth feast was all washed down with an incredible New Zealand Dashwood Pinot Noir (£35). Their house red starts at a very reasonable £15.50. The three hours that Sam and I spent at The Stirling simply flew by, a sure sign that everything was how it should be. The bar was fairly quiet but we’ve been told that the noise factor ramps up on Thursday/Fridays when the city workers come out to play. As it was we could natter away all night without having to shout. Perfect company (thanks Sam), great cocktails, surprisingly good freshly prepared food and excellent service – all at the base of one of London’s most iconic building. A Sterling effort!
30 St Mary Axe, London, EC3A 8BF
Telephone: 0207 929 3641
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 7.30am to 10pm
Book a table online
Nearest station: Fenchurch Street Station (5 mins walk),
Aldgate (6 mins walk) Liverpool Street Station (7 mins walk)
We ate as guests of The Sterling Bar, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.