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Review: The Drift Bar, Heron Tower, London

Review: The Drift Bar, Heron Tower, London

We’ve talked about how to get high in London before. But there are some absolutely amazing little places at the bottom of those big skyscrapers too. Take Drift for example. When I worked in the city (please, don’t remind me – it was a bad time and all those 5am up-and-dressed alarms have been deleted thank you very much) I used to walk past this place all the time. I thought it was just a bar with a few alfresco tables and blankets for city workers to have a drink. Reader, I was wrong.

For those not in the know with London’s skyscrapers (srsly, why not) Heron Tower is one of the newest high-rise multifunctional buildings in London. Situated opposite Liverpool St Station on Bishopsgate, the top floors are reserved for Duck and Waffle, an open all hours bar and restaurant and Sushisamba, serving a mix of Japanese and South American food. The queues are almost always out the door and around the corner, so it’s somewhere I’ve never fancied going.

Drift, though, is located on the ground floor, so admittedly it’s not going to have the same wow factor as you would get on the 40th. It kinda overlooks the second phase of Heron Tower, which at the moment is a literal building site. BUT, keep reading. Because this is one place that’s definitely worth a visit, even just for the salted caramel alcoholic milkshake.

So you get to Heron Tower. You admire the huge, massive fish tank in the building’s main lobby. The receptionists are trained to be able to recognise each fish, so you consider testing their knowledge, but food and drink awaits. To the left of the tower is Drift’s entrace. Downstairs is a bar area with a few tables. This isprime drinking space for office workers letting their hair down and ramming company credit cards. Up the stairs is another matter entirely.

Firstly, there’s a faux fur adorned private mezzanine room, with a view of Heron Tower reception’s fish tank from the back, which is pretty cool. At the top of the stairs is the dining room, a huge cavernous space with driftwood tables, gorgeous Morrocan styled tiling on the walls, and comfy chairs. It was packed to the rafters on a Tuesday at 8pm, which is a huge testament to the place. Office workers are fussy creatures, and city folk are used to good service, good food and better prices. Because if one of the three is missing, there’s a whole host of other restaurants to visit.
We were greeted by a cheery girl, who showed us to our table. Lorenzo, the waiter, came over and took our drink orders. The cocktails looked amazing, but we were all about prosecco and food. Once we’d sipped our drinks, we had look at the menu. There’s everything from sharing plates, to steaks. Something for everyone.

We chose a sharing platter to start, with a mix of battered prawns, meats and an onion, mushroom and blue cheese bruschetta. The prawns were divine, coupled with a red pepper dipping sauce, but the bruschetta was definitely the highlight (I pinched the recipe too. For this I am not sorry).

For starters, we had deep fried squid at Drift Manager Wayne’s recommendation, and chicken skewers with a satay sauce dip, both served on rustic chopping boards. The portion sizes were huge – if you’re a small eater then you’d be fine with just a starter.

Mains arrived promptly, a huge array of scampi with fat chips served in a deep fat frying griddle, and a Malaysian vegetarian curry with added chicken.

This is where we felt it was a bit weak. The scampi was lovely, but there was so much of it even two of us having a go were defeated. The batter was lovely and crisp, but it was slightly plain and very filling. However, this could be because it was totally overshadowed by the curry which was out of this world. We asked to speak to the chef to get to the bottom of what was in it, and he explained it was a mix of coconut, lime leaf, ginger, vegetables, and all manner of South East Asian flavours. We were seriously impressed and this was polished off, leaving the poor scampi looking rather untouched at the edge of the table.

After sitting back, Lorenzo came over with dessert menus featuring cakes, brulees and knickerbocker glories. We were massively stuffed, so settled with a salted caramel milkshake, with added bourbon to make it more of a grown up drink. It was delicious, but I’d have definitely enjoyed it had I not stuffed my face with all manner of meats, fish and veggies.

All in all, we had a great night in this beautiful bar. Service, we felt, rivalled that of high end restaurants we’ve been to, but still managed to make us feel relaxed after a long day at work. Prices were brilliant for London, with a platter serving 2-3 people costing about £9, and mains at £10. It’s definitely worth a visit, even just for the milkshake.

The Drift | Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY | 0845 468 0103