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Paramount at Centre Point

There’s an accepted, nay even an expected inverse correlation between dining and altitude; typically, the higher the meal and the better the view, the worse the cooking. (Just think of plane food). This is why the Paramount, perched atop the thirty-second floor of one of London's least-loved landmarks, is a shock - because in addition to the exhilarating views, the food is really very good.

Paramount's Tom Dixon interior, designed to chime with the brutal 1966 modernism of the building’s exterior, is upstaged by the aerial view. Nevertheless, Chef Colin Layfield's menu is a compelling enough reason alone to visit. They’re not giving it away - starters around a tenner, main courses £15-£25, desserts £7-11 - butall things considered (and the view is a big consideration), the prices are pretty fair.

You get a sense of what's to come when twice-baked roquefort soufflé starter arrives on a black slate that's drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar. Prettier still, some beetroot-stained cured salmon, topped by a little fillet of seared salmon, overlaying green streak of pea purée, all served on an opaque rectangular glace plate.

Mains are all very tempting indeed. There is a slight sense that Layfield is trying a little bit too hard, cramming every snazzy and seasonal ingredient going into everything, in an attempt, perhaps, to compete with the view. Having said that, you don’t go to Paramount to be shy and stare at beige walls and eat pared-down food. So I say, go all out and embrace the purees, the creams and the daring combinations. They create a skyline on the plate that’s almost a match for the one outside.

Following the duo of salmon I pursued the plurality theme with trio of rabbit; saddle, roast leg and confit shoulder; with peas, carrots and grain mustard sauce (£22.50). Far from being a lesson in lupine anatomy, the shoulder was unrecognizable as such, having been minced, formed into a square patty and deep-fried in breadcrumbs, deliciously. Again, there were even more ingredients on the plate than had been listed, including a patty of spinach and some wild mushrooms. My companion’ssautéed spring lamb and young vegetables with basil and tomato was on the simpler end of the spectrum, and was a generous rack: big, red and flavoursome. For those that want to impress their dates with flourishes, there’s the wild sea bass with potato gnocchi, samphire and caviar cream or the goat cheese and red onion roll with celeriac fondant, pea purée and saffron artichokes.

For pudding, I decided that, bearing in mind my location, the only way was up, so I plumped for the banana quartet (parfait, lime caramel, milk shake and spiced banana cake). Whilst seemingly unorthodox combination, the textural medley was a great success. So too was the motley crew my friend selected: walnut tart, cider sorbet, pink lady apple strudel with ginger custard. For me, the one let down was the custard. Since the other constituents were cold, a puddle of warm custard would have worked better, I thought, than the admittedly very artistic globule that was presented.

After the feast, we were shown up a flight of stairs to the top floor, where there’s a bar in which you can walk right around the building, soaking up the views of the horizon, and Oxford Street, beginning to glitter and crawl with headlights, as the evening darkens. We wander round in wonderment, countless times, stopping every now and again to sit on a nice leathery banquette or in a tipping bucket chair. Even when you’re stony sober, it’s spacey and intoxicating.

Paramount is a truly staggering place to sit and eat and drink, however you look at it. And as a place to bring a date, or a visitor to London, or just to get your bearings in your home town and finally piece together where everything is, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Paramount

Centre Point, 101-103 New Oxford Street, London WC1 

+44 20 7420 2900

www.paramount.uk.net

Elisabeth Rushton

Elisabeth has over a decade of experience as a luxury lifestyle and travel writer, and has visited over sixty countries. She has a particular interest in the Middle East, having travelled extensively around Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the UAE. A keen skier, she has visited over fifty ski resorts around the world, from La Grave to Niseko. She is currently focused on writing about luxury products fo...(Read More)

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