The tenth floor of the Montcalm Hotel in Finsbury Square offers spectacular views over a City skyline that seems to have grown a hundred thousand inches overnight. It is the perfect position from which to survey the pulsing energy of the Square Mile and neighbouring Tech City; seal your deals, celebrate your successes and, perhaps, if one is feeling inspired, formulate a plan to conquer it all.
Tom and Ed Martin, the publican brothers behind rapidly expanding restaurant operator ETM Group clearly identified a similar purpose for this perch when charged with designing a new rooftop drinking and dining destination to crown the recently redeveloped hotel.
For almost every aspect of Aviary, from the bronze and timber interiors to the flirty cocktails to the slick kitchen pumping British cuts out of the cast-iron coal oven, has been designed for City boys and girls to do just that. And it would seem the Martin brothers have succeeded, at least for the time being, because despite it being a bitingly cold Tuesday evening in Dry January, Aviary is in full flight.
Both restaurant and bar are buzzing against a backdrop of fluorescent-lit windows from surrounding offices that are as soft and warm from a safe distance as they are harsh and unforgiving when sitting underneath them.
The same cannot be said for the vast terrace, despite promises of heat lamps, fire pits and staff proffering cosy blankets, but as one of a surprising few rooftop bars for this particular pocket of the City, the vibe will doubtless improve with the temperatures.
Nevertheless it all makes for an inviting atmosphere within which to enjoy a wellrounded menu of meats and fishes spruiking the ever-popular back-to-British ethos, served up with the flair Square Mile diners have come to expect from new kids on the block.
Raw starters like the yellowfin tuna sashimi are top quality and served simply, letting the produce do the talking. A salad of beetroot, goat’s cheese, blackberries and truffle, on the other hand, has the fuss factor to land a spot on your Instagram feed, but lacks the depth of flavour to really earn it. Mains take a similar line to the tuna, with even greater success. The loin of Scottish deer is dished up on a bed of venison bolognese with curls of spiralised parsnip to soak it all up.
Meanwhile, the retired dairy cow sirloin arrives so tender and flavoursome that it drives our neighbouring diners to distraction. Desserts arrive in a haze of tonka crumbles over a moist sticky toffee pudding but by that stage we’ve made our way through a couple of cocktails and a bottle of medium-bodied French malbec and are busy strategising world domination. Needless to say, a slightly sickening chocolate mousse did little to knock the evening off its perch.
Aviary, 10th-floor of Montcalm Hotel, 22-25 Finsbury Square EC2A 1DX