This past year has literally catapulted alfresco terraces in London into the limelight, and if you’re after one that ticks every box, then The Rooftop at The Trafalgar St. James Hotel is a sure bet.
With impressive views of the capital which include The London Eye and the whole of Trafalgar Square, The Rooftop (which was previously Vista), has been given a smart, stylish makeover where the backdrop takes centre stage and the cocktails just keep coming.
The Rooftop’s pièce de résistance though, is its retractable roof which you won’t even notice exists… until the rain comes. Caught up in those crazy May thunderstorms when we visited, the sun shone as we sat down, and then 20 minutes later, the torrential rain lashed down. Of course that might’ve been a problem if we’d been on another terrace at another bar or restaurant, but as it happened, we got the heaters on, ordered another round of Tiki cocktails and barely noticed the weather under our completely dry canopy.
With Asian inspired small plates and mains from the grill, the menu at The Rooftop was very much to our taste. Prawn tempura arrived freshly crisp with a light batter and an addictive side sauce of sweet chili dressing. Tuna sashimi was also really high quality, with a dash of pickled ginger and a token pea-sized hit of wasabi. The tart tang of the veg gyoza’s ponzu sauce was a lovely addition to our selection and finally, crispy squid and a thick creamy alioli was the perfect dipping accompaniment.
We enjoyed a selection of really good signature Rooftop cocktails with our starters. The Coupette was a firm favourite of ours (judging by how many we ordered!) a perfectly balanced blend of vodka, lychee, aloe vera, lime juice and raspberry shrub.) In fact it tasted so fresh, that it almost felt like the sort of juice drink you’d treat yourself to after a sesh in the gym!
Mains from the grill followed – big portion sizes and well presented. My personal fave, (after tasting everybody elses), had to be my own choice – the soy glazed beef brisket which was a saliva-inducing-at-the-thought plate of that beautifully tender beef which pulls apart when you so much as look at it. My veggie friend meanwhile, was absolutely blown away by the mapo tofu. As a none tofu eater, there was some serious flavour packed into each tofu chunk, served alongside a generous mountain of steamed rice, spring onion, peanuts and sichuan oil.
The Wagyu beef burger was a true classic in every sense of the word. A good sized pattie, with all the extras and a smoky spicy Cajun infused plate of sweet potato fries.
Our top wine recommendation had to be the Court Garden Ditchling Rosé with rondo and pinot noir grape varieties. For ultimate summer fruit freshness on a sunny day, it was the perfect pour. Followed by seven espresso martinis, naturally…
Before we left, the sun shone once again, the roof came back off and we had many a photo before heading off to the next destination. For iconic views of the capital, attentive service and Asian influenced dishes which really hit the spot, The Rooftop is way up there.
For more reviews of London’s best roof top terraces, click here.