* Prices may differ from that shown
Recently I was lucky enough to have dinner at the Oxo Tower, a favourite of mine as I have eaten there a few times now and in my opinion a restaurant that offers one of the best views of the London Skyline in the city. The OXO Tower is located towards the eastern end of London's South Bank cultural area, and is within the London Borough of Southwark. According to an article I read, the building was originally constructed as a power station for the Post Office, built towards the end of the 19th century. It was subsequently acquired by the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, manufacturers of Oxo beef stock cubes, for conversion into a cold store.
The restaurant is located ont he 8th floor of the tower and is accessible by lift. As you are on the 8th floor you do get a truly amazing view of London including a spectacular view of St Paul's which is a great London landmark. The restaurant benefits from amazing floor to ceiling glass windows on the Thames side so you do get a really spectacular unblocked view. However, I would say make sure you don't sit next to this window on a very cold day as you really will feel the chill sitting next to it even if the heating is on as I asked for it to be a bit warmer but no joy unfortunately.
As you enter the restaurant there is a free coat check which I always like as I know my coat is quite safe and I have the ticket to reclaim it after I eat. That way I don't have to worry about it being on the back of my chair or getting dirty etc. Then there is a great bar which they have actually just launched within the restaurant. There are numerous round tables and chairs to sit down on and enjoy the view from. The drinks are lovely and it was nice to enjoy a leisurely drink before our dinner. According to their website, it was designed by Shaun Clarkson ID, the new interior takes in some of the original design elements from the Restaurant and Brasserie, retaining the feel of a classic cruise liner, whilst at the same time introducing some strikingly modern touches.
There are two different eating experiences to choose from. You can go for the cheaper option of eating in the Brasserie which is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. This is what we went for. The seating for the brasserie is near the bar area and near the large glass windows so you enjoy the amazing view when you sit in the brasserie. The atmosphere and decor is rather contemporary with lots of modern looking chairs and tables. What I really liked was that we were also sitting near the open plan kitchen so we could see the chefs at work. I love watching people cooking and I think this added a really nice event to the dinner so to speak. My food was absolutely amazing. I had a wonderful asparagus soup for starters which was creamy and delicious. I then had chicken for mains with lentils and the portion sizes were really good. I was full up which is sometimes unusual for fine dining but not too full up not to have dessert. My dessert was the best part of the meal in my opinion. I had ginger brulee which was just like creme brulee with a ginger taste to it. It was cooked to perfection and came with wonderful little shortbread biscuits. Throughout the meal the wait staff were impecible and catered to our every wish and were polite and fun. I've read on their website that during summertime they offer al fresco dining and live music and so will definitely have to go back then! I went with friends and so in the end my portion was around £60 which I did not think was too bad for three courses and a few drinks.
A fabulous location with wonderful views and wonderful food.
This review will is for the bar area of the Oxo Tower only, and not including the restaurant.
To get to the Oxo Tower Bar and Restaurant you need to go up in the lift to the 8th Floor. The lifts are located in the shops under the tower. The lifts are pretty basic, but clean and quick.
On arrival at the 8th floor you walk down the coridoor to the bar area. You will pass the cloakroom area and the reception for the actual restaurant. There were no specific staff to greet us and direct us to the bar, and the staff in the cloakroom just kind of stared at us as we walked past but made no effort to smile or say hello.
The bar is in the middle of the room, and is large enough to accomodate the half dozen staff on hand mixing cocktails. Drinkers can sit around the bar, or at one of the seats around the edge by the windows. Everyone else, not lucky enough to get a seat just has to stand in the middle of the room.
Getting to the bar can be difficult with people sat on stools all around the edge. However, I was fortunate and got served within a coupel of minutes.
The cocktail list is vast. And the average price is £10 per drink. They do not last particularly long, as they are served in a more tumbler style glass, but they are very tasty, and they are not your usual run of the mill mojitos, but instead contain some different recipes.
The bar staff were fine and friendly enough. Service was with a smile. When paying for your drinks you are given the option to pay now or start a tab. On the receipts it is stated that service is not included, however, I don't think that a tip is necessary. The bar staff aren't waiters, they simply make your drink and pass it over the bar.
The views are ok. If you are fortunate enough to get a seat then it would be quite romatic to sit and look out at the night sky with the office lights twinkling. But if you are having to stand then the ambience is ruined slightly, as you just feel out of place and in the way of other customers.
There were a lot of people in the bar on the Friday night that I went, and so it is pretty noisy.
The customers were varied. From people in glamour dresses and suits to guys in jeans and rugby shirts. This bar really is for everyone. It will almost certainly attract a lot of tourists as well as loal workers for an end of week beverage. I had previous read that the dress code is smart casual, but to be honest, unless you look like a total tramp, I think anything goes really.
The ladies toilets were clean and well maintained, and had plenty of soap and hand towels too.
You could take someone here for a romatic evening, but I would advise getting there early to secure seats. Unfortunately, you cannot reserve a bar area as there are simply not enough seats to warrant a reservation system.
I went to the Oxo Tower with my partner last year for my anniversary celebrations.
As soon as we walked away from the lift and into the 8th floor restaurant, the staff were amazing, very tentative and friendly. We were taken to the bar to order drinks while our table was ready. As I had made the booking, I made sure I mentioned it's a special occasion and managed to get the tables next to the window, as a surprise for my partner.
Once we were seated, the drinks were brought to our table with menus, and we were allowed to enjoy the view...and What a view it was. It's breath taking to just sit, relax and try to enjoy the evening.
The food, the wine and the service was amazing. The price of the meal is more than you would normally pay for a restaurant, but then how often do you eat on the 8th floor, with breath taking views, relaxed atmosphere and a live piano player in the background to set the mood of the evening.
I'm a vegetarian, and there was a good selection of food, but I do eat fish, and to this date this it the place i've had the most perfectly cooked fish.
The last thing to mention is the service is great, the waiters are very friendly and forth coming with their opinions and they do everything to make you feel relaxed and not rushed. We spend about 3 hours.
Great Food and Experience.
On my 50th birthday I wanted to go out for a very special meal, and decided to splash out on the OXO tower in London - somewhere that I have wanted to go for years but have never been able to afford.
The OXO tower stands on the South Bank of the Thames, right next to the river and a few yards from Blackfriars Bridge. Originally a power station for the Post Office, it was rebuilt to an Art Deco design by Albert Moore in 1929, after it had been bought by OXO as a cold store. The design included a very large illuminated OXO sign which still exists today. In the 1990s the tower was refurbished to hold the apartments, shops, exhibition space and restaurants and it stands a magnificent landmark along the Thames, full of character and somewhere really unique.
Owned and designed by Terrance Conran, the restaurant has been carefully thought out to provide the maximum comfort. Each detail is minutely organised, from the lighting that changes from white during the day to blue at night, to the design of the cutlery, to the furniture. On the 8th floor of the tower, the walls are made of glass, giving a 360 degree view of London and the river; filling the room with light. The restaurant is managed by Harvey Nichols, and booking through their website is a very easy process. Sample menus can also be viewed.
The look of the restaurant is very stylish. The tables are all square, with blue leather bucket style chairs and as the restaurant stretches across the whole east side of the tower there are fantastic view to the north, east and south from every table. It was lovely to look out across the river to see St Pauls, and the whole swathe of north east London with the high rise towers of the City standing out against the skyline. The acoustics in the restaurant are fantastic, helped by the blue-finned ceiling, so that you cannot hear the conversation of the people who are sitting only a foot away from you on the next table. The restaurant was packed, but we never had to raise our voices and noise from the other diners was just a murmer in the background.
The waiting staff are all dressed in blue shirts with long white aprons, and are extremely attentive, watching for your every sign and leaping to help you. The Maitre d' was dynamic and totally in control of the floor, watching out for any empty wineglass or plate and instructing the staff with discreet hand signals. It was amazing to watch! The whole feeling is one of luxury - you really feel that you are getting the best service and quality.
The dress code said smart but casual, but at lunchtime this seemed to be fairly relaxed, with several people in jeans. As it was a weekday, the majority of the diners were businessmen in suits, but this did not detract from the atmosphere.
We opted for the set lunchtime menu, which was £44 for 2 courses and £49.50 for 3 courses. The food was absolutely delicious, with a combination of flavours that I have rarely experienced, but despite this - it is the choice of food that is going to take my review down to 4 stars. Although we love fish we do not eat meat. We looked at sample menus before we went, and ascertained that there were several fish dishes on the menu - but when we came to choose, the cod came with chorizo puree and Serrano ham; the monkfish came with cumbrian black pudding; and, even worse - the salmon came with foie gras! Although there was a vegetarian menu available, this was not included in the set menu and would have been much more expensive.
For starters I chose smoked haddock with a poached egg, my husband had sea bass. For main I had the monkfish with the black pudding removed. I was not offered anything to replace the black pudding, and in fact paid £4 extra for mashed potato! My husband had the salmon without the foie gras. For desert I had chocolate mouse with gingerbread and my husband had cinnamon panna cota. Each dish was fantastic, both in presentation and in taste.
Our bill at the end of the meal came to £177, including a bottle of wine, sparkling water, coffees, one aperitif and one desert wine. The whole meal was a fantastic experience and one that I will never forget. It was made special by the amazing views, and the brilliant service, from the moment that we walked in and immediately were welcomed, had our coats checked in, and were seated.
On the way out we looked at the slightly cheaper brasserie. I had read reviews about this being crowded and noisy, and this seemed to be the case. The tables there were bare and crowded close together - I was very happy that we had chosen to pay a bit more for the calm atmosphere of the restaurant.
The Oxo Tower surely has to be one of the most over-rated restaurants in London. I had heard such amazing things about it and I go past it twice a day on my commutes to and from work. It's certainly an iconic building, with the big OXO letters lit up in red that you can see from quite a way away.
I was taken there on a date by someone who was clearly trying to impress. I believe you usually have to book quite far in advance, but he managed to get a last-minute cancellation.
The Oxo Tower seem to have quite rigid rules about when you can be seated compared to what time your booking is for. We got there about 15 mins prior to our booking but, even though the restaurant was empty, we were told we couldn't be seated. This became really obvious as to the reason why when we were invited into the cocktail bar instead. The cocktails are pretty expensive (our champagne ones were £12 each and they were quite small) so they obviously get a lot of revenue from that alone.
After a few drinks, we made our way to the restaurant where were seated without any fuss. I was absolutely horrified at how many tables they had tried to cram in. We were sitting at one end of a row of 2-seater tables and each one was not more than 6 inches away from the next. It was completely ridiculous. I was glad we were at the end or we would've been completely sandwiched in. Trying to have a private conversation was impossible (the people at the table next to us later got chatting to us and admitted they had been listening to every word we had said). It all just screamed 'GREED'.
The menu didn't have that much choice in my opinion - there were only about ten main courses to choose from. They're all rather expensive too, being about £20-25 on average. The size of the meals was pretty small as well and a 3-course meal in no way filled me up (I ended up in KFC a few hours later). The food was nice though (I had duck and potatoes), although nothing special.
The service was fine, but nothing amazing. We were showed no better or worse service than I would get in Pizza Express. The toilets were nice and clean though, and nicely done up, so that was a plus. And the decor of the restaurant in general was quite white and simplistic (clinical?) which, again, was fine.
To be honest, the only things you are really paying for are the view of the Thames (if you can get a window seat, which most people do not) and the cache of going to The Oxo Tower. I wouldn't bother going again.
I recently visited the Oxo tower on a girl's night out for my friends 21st birthday. We thought we would be posh for the night and had arranged transport ad everything. Trust me when I say that this is not the usual procedure for a night out as usually we just have a few and see where the night takes us but we wanted this to be special so we went all out.
I already had a pre conceived idea of what the restaurant was going to be like. I have heard it is fine dining and 'posh'. On arrival we found that we were to be eating in the brassiere which was fine. This is a cheaper version on the very expensive restaurant and I guess we were shortly to find out that you get what you pay for. The staff were friendly on arrival and there was even a cloak room which I thought was pretty swanky compared to any restaurant I have ever been to. The decor didn't really seem anything from the ordinary though and I did feel as though I had just come to my local restaurant rather than somewhere special. We were shifted into the bar where we were told that they were running a little late and they would call us shortly. Money making scheme may be?
The bar was absolutely packed out to the rafters. It was loud and there was absolutely nowhere to sit. Our guess was that they weren't all waiting to be seated as we would have a very long wait if this was the case. There was a pianist and a singer in the bar which made for quite a nice atmosphere.
The actual bar was quite large and there was plenty of room to stand and queue, there was plenty of staff so we didn't have to wait too long to be served. Menus were scattered along the bar and I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the prices. It was anything FROM £30 a bottle of wine, my guess is they were something special and I have to admit to not knowing a lot about wine apart from your run of the mill £4.99 bottle of blossom hill. Unfortunately the prices got larger as the drinks got smaller and the spirit prices were through the roof. We opted for a Dry Martini (yuck) because this was cheapest on the menu at £6 as I refused to pay £10- £15 for a vodka and orange. I don't really know why we bothered but I guess we just didn't want to look silly in the restaurant.
We eventually got called to our table - about 30 minutes late which I thought was bad form for this sort of restaurant. I was so disappointed when we got led to our table as I felt I was in more of a cafe in a glass green house than a posh restaurant. The tables didn't even have table cloths and the chairs were more like something you would find in an uncomfortable American diner. They were packed so tightly in that it would be terrible for anyone in a wheelchair or with a buggy and there were not many window seats although we were lucky to get one of these. Unfortunately the view wasn't really fascinating though as all you could really see was the river and a few cranes, nothing I can't see from a tall block of flats. The ambience wasn't anything special either and although you could see and hear the singer and pianist from the restaurant it was more like being in a bad karaoke club for dinner which didn't really go down well with the meal! The lighting was quite nice though and good for this type of restaurant, bright but not too bright!
The menu was pretty self explanatory - of you don't speak English - ok so I don't eat out all that much, well I do but not at restaurants like this. Unfortunately I could not understand a word of it apart from the odd word like duck or pork. There were a few options including some fish, some salad some others which I couldn't even tell you about. I opted for the pork chop in yada dad sauce with yada dad salad. My friends opted for the sea bass and duck curry.
The waiter seemed friendly enough but we didn't see a lot of her apart from when she took our order. I think that sometimes this can be a good thing but on this occasion she was almost nonexistent. There were times we needed something and she was nowhere to be seen. I understand they were busy but we didn't even get asked if there was anything we needed.
Our meals came out pretty quickly - about 15 minutes I would say and they all came out together which is always a bonus. They all looked fantastic and smelt divine. My pork chop was succulent and I have to say totally yummy. It was by far the best pork chop I have ever tasted and the mushroom sauce it was dressed in was very yummy, it came with some other concoction which I didn't eat because it didn't float my boat but that is neither here nor there!
We ordered desert also and there was a variety on offer. I chose the toffee cheese cake and my friends chose pancakes. The desert was unfortunately not as mice as the main course and not like any cheese cake I have ever tasted before, it was far too rich and creamy and very sickly, unfortunately I did not finish this, not even nearly, I just didn't like it. My friends said theirs were nice but not the best. We left pretty soon after this.
The prices were pretty reasonable and I suppose this was because we were eating in the brassiere, the whole bill came to about £200 for 5 of us, this was without starters and without drinks but still quite reasonable! They did add a 12.5 % service charge onto the bill automatically which they do in most restaurants these days but we opted to pay just 10% of this as we thought our service was pretty ropey!
I can't really comment on how easy or hard it is to find as we got dropped right outside but on walking out of the restaurant although we had had a few as far as I could tell it was pretty well hidden and the actual entrance very well concealed within the complex which is the oxo tower. We found it hard to get a cab from here and had to walk a fair way to get to any main street in order to get any transport onto the next place.
There is no dress code for the restaurant and we all got really dressed up and actually felt over dressed. Many people looked like they had came straight from work and many had jeans and trainers on, not something I expected to see here but I wish I had known as I too would have worn my jeans!
I decided on this particular night not to drink a lot because I have a young daughter at home, prices are high in London and I can't really justify spending this sort of money any more now I have the little one and Christmas is coming. The next day when I woke up I felt very very ill and started to be sick ETC!!
I don't want to point fingers as obviously I cannot pin point to where exactly my sickness had came from but I would just like to say that I hadn't eaten anything else that day due to me saving myself for my big night out! I could actually taste the cheesecake for three days after and unfortunately I think this was the culprit but as I said I don't know. I have never felt so ill thought and felt as though I just wanted to be swallowed by a deadly monster.
Although it didn't cost too much I really don't think it is worth it. I wouldn't travel far to visit it and fortunately I live in London so this is nothing too far for me but I have heard of people all over the world wanting to go here and I would be bitterly disappointed. It was totally not what I expected and felt more like I was in a small town cafe. I have had far better meals in TGI Fridays and I do not understand why people hype it up so much. I would not choose to return here and if someone offered me to go there I would probably have to seriously consider whether it was worth a night away from my little one. The food was yummy but I wouldn't want to eat there again just in case! Unfortunately this was just not my cup of tea and I feel sorry for the girl who was paying the bill, I think she enjoyed herself though which is the main thing and if you visit I hope you do too, just steer clear of the cheesecake :)
I have recently dined at the Oxo restaurant and overall it was a great dining experience. I took my girlfriend for her birthday as I had heard great reviews.
The average cost for the starters ranged from £9.50 - £15 and included Tuna loins, Veal and Frois Grais. The Main Courses was £20-£30 and included chicken, duck, beef and various fish dishes. I was pleased with the choice I made of Tuna to start with and the Duck as a main course. The presentation and the taste of the meals were exquisite. The wine section was great. The drinks were fairly standard price for London, cocktails from £9.00 and beers approx £4.00. The best thing was the view from the restaurant terrace, a spectacular view of the Thames and watching the sun go down was out of this world. The only negative was the 12.5% service charge, as I prefer the freedom of paying what I think is right. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone that can afford to go on a regular basis or a very special occasion.
Special occasions deserve special treats and for my beloved no expense is spared. Just as well really, considering the venue. It was her birthday and that of my son as well, just a couple of days earlier. The Harvey Nichols' OXO restaurant on the Southbank of the Thames is a spectacular location and it was here that I had booked a table for a latish lunch using Harvey Nichols' website. The famed OXO Tower can be seen for miles, especially when it's lit up at night. I had often seen it, passed by but had never previously visited, even to take in the view from its balcony.
The plan was to take the train into London using SouthWest's four-for-the-price-of-two ticket offer. Plans go awry where this dismal train company is concerned though. The station from which we had planned to depart is, it turns out, now unmanned on a Saturday. One ticket machine was out of order and there seemed no way to get the special offer on the only other working machine. As I wasn't prepared to pay a whole load extra we all piled back into the car to drive into London.
As it happened, all this took a lot longer than it should due to the police blocking Clapham High Street and forcing an unwelcome diversion through congested Brixton, where every road seemed to be being dug up! In the end we finally arrived in the Borough, looking for a car park some two hours later than intended. My original plans to take in the Tate Modern at Bankside before eating had to be abandoned.
Thankfully the weather was superb, a little breezy but brilliant sunshine none the less. A stroll down Silver Jubilee Way along the banks of the Thames back in the direction of Waterloo was hugely enjoyable, despite the crowds out to do the same. We arrived at the OXO Tower to find one lift to the eighth floor, where the restaurant is to be found, out-of-order, and a queue for the other. When we finally arrived at the top floor we were still a little early for the original table booking. They were very helpful though and we were able to bring our meal forward a little, despite the restaurant being pretty well full.
The restaurant runs the length of the building but is quite narrow, back to front. It is actually divided into two areas: facing the river, to the right the bar and a bar grill; to the left the brasserie. We were eating in the brasserie but waited in the bar with some drinks until our table was ready. These two are run separately so you will have to pay for your drinks before going through for your meal.
The brasserie and bar have high windows running all along the river front and, despite the outside viewing balcony, even if your table in the brasserie isn't right by the windows, as ours was, the view along the Thames and across London is still quite spectacular. Famous landmarks such as the Gherkin, St Pauls, Unilever House, The London School, Kings College and Somerset House, amongst many, can be plainly seen.
The brasserie has a central food preparation area and to one side is a separate bar where you can also eat on stools at a surrounding counter. The main eating area is set along the length of the windows. The tables are fairly well packed in and just short of cramped. It is still possible to overhear conversations from other tables though. However, with the evident popularity of the place, it is understandable that the management would want to maximise the potential. I could have done with just a little bit more space though.
During our meal we were entertained by a twosome singer and instrumentalist. The singer had an extremely good voice and the overall volume was not too loud as to be intrusive. Their music was well-chosen and enjoyable. Their efforts were obviously appreciated by other guests as well, as judged by the regular applause, despite the need to have hands free in order to clap.
But, back to the food. The menu in the bar grill is somewhat more restricted than for the brasserie. In the brasserie a full menu is offered or a set menu at £24 for three courses, which is actually very good value for money. As it happened though, none of our party wanted any of the dishes on the set menu and so all selections were from the full range.
Three of us chose the Spanish style char-grilled squid for starters, which was beautifully cooked, and spiced with a few slices of chorizo sausage and tasted delicious, as was the verdict for everyone's chosen dish. For the main course I selected Sea Bream, which came with a mash and a dressing of finely chopped vegetables in a sauce. Again, everyone voted their chosen dish a complete delight and not a morsel was left on a plate.
The only disappointment was that the wine I had chosen from their extensive selection, a Rhone Valley White Voignier, was not available. In its place I chose a Chablis which, although extremely good, was not what I would have preferred. However, this was really the only let-down of the meal. All of our desserts were also excellent; I chose a Baileys and Banana crème brulee.
Throughout the meal the service was attentive but not intrusive, which is exactly as it should be. We took our time, around two hours, and we were at no time under any pressure to vacate our table before we were absolutely ready to do so.
What about the price then? Well, as you would probably expect, the bill was substantial but, as I said, this was a special occasion and so allowable. For the five of us, with wine and an added 12.5% tip automatically included, the whole came to around £280. Clearly this is not a place we would be likely to eat on a regular basis!
However, for what it offers, the views, the excellent food, the good service, a meal at the OXO Brasserie is justifiable every now and then as a treat. We will probably visit again, but not for a while, not until my wallet has recovered from the shock.
I had heard mixed reviews about the OXO Tower Restaurant and Brasserie but as it was somewhere I had always wanted to go (and we couldn't get in a Fifteen) we recently ended up in the Brasserie there for a birthday celebration.
Our table was booked for 9pm (it was a slightly late notice evening out) and we arrived on the 8th floor after a very pleasant walk along the Thames passing the lovely Christmas market at Bankside and taking in the sights. There is a bar, brasserie and restaurant at the OXO Tower - all on the 8th floor and all owned by the Harvey Nicholls Group. A friend had recommended the brasserie as opposed to the more formal (and on a week night apparently quite corporate) restaurant. For the brasserie you head towards the bar and are greeted by very polite staff at the entrance, your coat is taken at the cloakroom and shown to your table. At first I was slightly disappointed by our table as although it was near the window we were directly next to one of the waiters stations and very close to other diners. However once sat down it was fine. The atmosphere in the brasserie was fantasic - although the decor and furniture can make it feel a little clattery -the chatter and live jazz pianist playing Christmas songs more than improved the mood.
The service was a little slow to start with - I had heard about the vegetarian menu and wanted to look at it but a waiter was no where to be found for about ten minutes, and our starters came before our wine but this was nothing that bothered me too much. I ended up with both a starter and a main from the vegetarian menu (which is not as good as I had been led to believe - three dishes for starter and main, two of which were already on the normal menu). My starter was quite interesting (tofu with rice pancake) rather than amazing, but my brother said his (lamb shank gnocchi) was fantastic. The mains were lovely - with my only criticism being that my tortellini was covered in a thick shower of cress -I thought I was in the 80's for a moment.
The real star of the show food wise was however the desserts - we shared a creme brulee and a cheese plate and both were out of this world. The wine (about £22 a bottle but the house wine was cheaper) lasted us nicely and the bill came to a reasonable £109 for two people.
The OXO Tower is a lovely place to eat - the views are stunning across the Thames, the atmosphere is wonderful especially with the Christmas music playing - the food wasn't the best I had eaten ina restaurant but the price was more than reasonable and the service adequate and without any major issues. I would recommend a trip here for an enjoyable, reasonably priced dinner for a special occasion - by no means is this the kind of place you would go for a week night meal (pizza express anyone?) but for my birthday celebration - it was perfect.
The Oxo tower is a part of the south bank regeneration scheme aimed at revitalizing the area of the riverbank between Blackfriars bridge and Tower bridge. There are many sites of interest along this stretch of the river including the Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre, the National Film Theatre, Tate Modern. The Design Museum. The Oxo Tower, and associated buildings have been refurbished into a collection of art studios and a restaraunt. The Oxo tower features a restaurant, and the Oxo tower buildings are divided into a series of food outlets, art galleries (fine arts), and small designer/maker studios (applied arts).The range of products available include contemporary ceramics, glass. Lighting, furniture, jewellery, interior furnishings and more. The studios are let under a some what stringent letting policy, they are only let to artists who specialise in applied arts, and the work must be manufactured and sold on the premises, it is one of the conditions that you are allowed to work there. I suppose that this is their way of controlling a particular type of economic growth in the area, and supports a particular type of artisan in a self supporting environment. The whole development is geared toward small scale business development, and fits in with the other developments in the nearby area. Gabriel?s wharf which is just a few hundred metres away, is a similar development, featuring mainly eating places but with some craft type outlets within the scheme. Gabriel?s wharf is more an outdoor development based around a central plaza , Good for families, and a good stopping off point in the summer if you are walking the length of the south bank area, for example from the Royal Festival Hall up to Tower bridge. They often have street carnival type of activities during the summer, you need to check on events and things before you go .You can get this information from the same place as the Oxo tower website, www.oxotower.co.uk. The shops in this developmen
t tend to be more crafty type shops whereas at the Oxo tower there is a definite style issue on the agenda, it is very much more design conscious and orientated. If you like one off designer pieces, or limited edition applied artwork, then the Oxo tower has something to offer for you. This type of work is not cheap on the whole, but most makers will have a cheaper range of stuff, so they can sell to as many people as possible. Overheads as the Oxo tower are pretty high so don?t expect to get much at the budget end of the market, the rent for these workshops starts at £399 a month which is a lot for some one working on their own in this type of trade so the prices have to reflect that. Most of the people who work here are arts school graduates, having studied applied or fine arts at degree level at least, and some have the support of the crafts council, that?s like the applied arts version of the arts council who provide support and funding for craft workers, though their help is orientated to the exclusive, graduate school of craft workers, than what you might traditionally associate the term craftsman to. There is no one here making clogs or whicker baskets to my knowledge, at least there wasn?t the last time I was there ( fashions change so quickly these days). The Crafts Council are a government funded body who?s role is to promote and support the applied arts in Britain, www.craftscouncil.org.uk , anyone who thinks they have the skills, qualifications, and business idea can apply to them in order to set up a business or maintain a business which has been trading for less than a year. The set up grant they offer is usually to facilitate the purchase of expensive machinery and offset starting up costs, which may prevent the establishment of a new business. They also offer grant to existing business for specific projects. They have a centre and shop 44a Pentonville road , Islington, in London if this is your area of interest, worth a visit if you are inter
ested in contemporary design and craft, and a shop at the V&A, South Kensington. The designer/makers at the Oxo tower tend to have been in business for a while and have moved to this site as an upgrade, at the prices they charge for studio space, you are unlikely to find many beginners there. In fact I wonder how hard it is to say in business out there on the wharf, I visited this place a couple of times last year the first time I went the studios were almost full, the second time a couple of months later they were half empty, one floor was almost a ghost town. This begs the question have these people done incredibly well and moved on to greater things or did they go bust. I wonder about the practicality of this site as a business venue. It is very prestigious address I think if you are in the business , very picturesque location, looks great, but I wonder if it is just useless for business. There are not that many people passing by, in fact most people do just that, they pass by, unless you have an ace publicity, or just plain loadsa money, I suspect this place as a viable business proposition. I only say this because I went into this in some detail a while back. This area of the arts has really taken off in the last ten years, there are more people investing in the arts as a form of investment, and for some reason the applied art sector has been benefiting greatly from this. There are a lot of people who may be wary of buying fine art as such, because it is such an unquantifiable area, whereas with applied art is much easier to give a piece a value or a meaning and punters are far more willing to part with their cash if they can see what they are getting for their money. There have been no end of design and craft workshops springing up all over, in the last two decades, and have course many of them have folded, the market can only support so many, but with the current obsession with interior design that has gripped the nation, I can see this being a growi
ng market for some years to come. I am thinking of programmes like changing rooms, and the plethora of cloned programmes which seem to fill the T.V. listings recently, when they go off to buy a piece of functional art, to finish off the room or a designer lamp or mirror frame, well this is the type of place they go to get it. If you want a piece of original, functional artwork to finish off your recently made over masterpiece and you just happen to be strolling along the South Bank, you might consider dropping in to see what is on offer. Some people buy this kind of work, because they like it and some as an investment, I think unless you know what you are looking for it is best to buy what you like and maybe you will be lucky and it will be worth some money some day, this happens just as commonly in the applied art market these days as it does in the fine art market. It is a highly speculative market and there is no guarantee you will see a return on your investment, the only guarantee you can be sure of is that you will enjoy what you have bought because you like it if that is why you bought it. The only yardstick you can really use is to buy quality, if you are spending a lot of money because quality never goes out of fashion. Don?t forget to take your chequebook. The art gallery features contemporary fine art, including painting, photography, sculpture, and also retrospective exhibitions of more established artists. There is currently a photography exhibition in aid of Sight savers International, ?Click?, a Celebration of Sight, featuring a collection of photographs donated by a variety of photographers artists and celebrities. Also there is an exhibition of blown glass ? My extravaganza? by Ioan Nemtoi. The Gallery is more an exhibition space, there are no artists in residence to my knowledge, like the craft workshops. There are a couple of sandwich shops and a café on the same level as the art gallery and if you feel like pushing the boat out
the restaurant on the 7th floor of the tower itself. I believe you need to book the restaurant well in advance though I have not been so I could not really say.
There are two parts of the Oxo Tower, the Brasserie (cheaper) and The Restaurant proper (expensive). It is a great venue, the building is imposing and the interior matches, with lots of big windows offering fantastic vistas of London, clean looking tables and a bustling atmosphere with open kitchen. We opted for the cheaper brasserie option which is less formal. The menu was good offering a fair choice of eclectic dishes. The service was also good with attentive waiters and waitresses. However I found that although my food was presented in a lovely fashion it was rather too greasy for my liking. I ate with four others and each of us though pleased with our dish had some small criticism which did put a dampener on the overall meal. I would recommend the brassierie if you want to dine in a top london restaurant without paying too much, however the food although nice is not fantastic so don't expect too much.
My dining experience ot this restaurant was truley one of the worst of my life. Upon entering the establishment and ordering a drink at the bar we were told we couldn't transfer the billing of the drinks to our table bill, as it was booked in a different member of our party's name. After waiting 25 mins to place our orde,r during which we were not served or asked about any further liquid refreshment - even though our glasses were conspicously empty, we managed to attract the attention of one of the 'terribly busy' waiters. Foregoing starters due to the time lost waiting for service we moved straight into the main course - or at least one of our party of four did - the arrival of the first main course and the last main course spanned a period of some 20 mins, meaning that we all ate our main courses at different times. Dessert was promptly order with as much good grace as could be mustered and upon it's arrival we tucked in (even though we'd been given the wrong desserts), two mouthfuls through the lemon tart I found it miraculously removed from under my spoon by a waiter saying 'you didn't order that!' and taking it away with no mention of replacing it with what I had ordered. Suffice to say that there was some debate over the bill.........