Oxo Tower is one of those places where you want to go on a clear and sunny day. Its bay windows on both sides make it feel like an aquarium, and the views of London are magnificent. Needless to say, the food is worthy of the Caesar’s palates.
Oxo Tower: the history
The building was first used as a power station for the Post Office, and towards the end of the 19th century the Oxo beef stock cubes company bought it and converted it into a cold store. The Art Deco style as seen today was built on 1929 by Albert Moore. Having been declined the right to advertise the name of the company on the tower, the architect went on and designed the windows to match the name of the company. It passed onto different hands until in the 1990s it was refurbished and reconverted into a block of apartments, shops, exhibition space and the very well-known restaurant on the 8th floor.
Oxo Tower: the location
Oxo Tower is located on the south bank of the river Thames. It is best reached by taking the tube to Southwark (Jubilee line) or, if you want to have a nice walk and the weather allows, you can start your day by crossing the river from the Big Ben, walking near the London Eye, Southbank, and then finally the Oxo Tower.
Oxo Tower: the views
The views of the river from the restaurant and bar are among the best you will find in London. In the summer, head to the terrace, where the river’s breeze and the (rare) London sun will make your meal a square one. If you look towards your right, you will see Saint Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge. Enjoy the boats passing by the rhythm of the city and the flow of the tourists from the tranquil eighth floor of the building. Feel the privilege of being on top of everything.
Night views are very captivating. All the lights of the city scarred by the immediate Thames, the sight of the BT tower at the far north, the lights from the inside of the bar…
The back views (I told you it’s like an aquarium) are not as nice, but you can clearly see the tall building from Elephant and Castle and generally the area of Southwark.
Oxo Tower: the bar
This is the perfect place at any time of the day. They serve coffee, drinks, cocktails, platters to share and a couple of hot dishes during lunchtime. It is not extremely expensive (20-30 pounds per person for a 2-3 course lunch), although of course it’s not like you are having lunch at a restaurant. They serve posh versions of burgers and fish and chips, and then some finger food like Moroccan sausages, hummus with pita bread, olives or salads.
The tables inside are round and have very comfortable sofas (some are semicircles, some are standalone sofas), plenty of light and partial views of the buildings surrounding the river. The ones outside are slightly chillier (only available for the brave ones from April on), they can accommodate up to 4 people. In sunny days it will get very busy, so come early or expect to wait in a table inside to be seated outside. You can always go out with your drink while you wait for your food.
I’d like to make a particular mention on the coffee they brew. It’s from Illy, but it’s very well done, and they bring a chocolate ounce that is the cherry on the pie. Desserts are also delicious.
And of course, drinks and cocktails later at night are a must. It gets quite crowded with chic City Londoners seeking to have some elegant fun.
Oxo Tower: the restaurant(s)
There are actually two restaurants at the Oxo Tower: the brasserie and the restaurant itself. The brasserie is located towards the left of the bar from the reception, while the restaurant is placed on the right and has its own access from the lifts. The views are amazing from both.
The OXO Tower restaurant offers fine dining in an intimate and delicate atmosphere, away form the bar. They have a list of 800 wines to choose from, coming form all over the world. A team of sommeliers are available to help you choose one. You can expect to pay £35 for a 3 course lunch set menu, and £50-70 if ordering a la carte for lunch or for dinner.
Oxo Brasserie is completely different. With its jazzy piano bar gig every Sunday night, the chef and his team transform the preparation of the dishes into a show, which you can enjoy thanks to the open kitchen. Prices start at £22.5, but ordering wine and 3 dishes will rise the bill to £40-60.
Oxo Tower: the staff
Waiters and waitresses are very polite and willing. They go the extra mile to satisfy every request, like sitting close to the breathtaking views or excluding one of the ingredients from a dish.
The attendants at the reception will take your name and request, collect your coats and bags and try to meet any other need that you might have prior to your lunch, dinner or drinks.
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