Madison – Spectacular Views for an evening out

Madison  is perhaps the piece de resistance among this grouping of bar restaurants – at least in terms of outlook – a bar restaurant on the top of One New Change where the location could make up for a number of shortcomings.  Despite some not very complimentary reviews in the press and on the internet – although to be fair there were some good ones too – we found nearly everything to be excellent.  Perhaps the only problem was that because of the number of people crowding the bar areas the venue was extremely noisy and it was difficult to carry on a conversation – but that is a result of popularity and I do suspect at crowded times of the day, like early evening when we went there, it would appeal much more to the younger professional crowd who seem to appreciate the bar scene most of all.

While Madison is a bar/restaurant it is rather more than just a bar which also serves food – although one has to say that those in the bar areas get the best views, which is a pity if you are a diner but then most diners may have had a drink at the bar first and have been able to take in the views then. (One also suspects it is the bar business which makes the real money (even though the food at Madison is definitely on the pricey side and one would be extremely hard pressed to come up with a combination which came in anywhere near the £90 for two quoted at the beginning of this article.)

 

St Paul’s at sunset from Madison’s terrace bar (Photo: Lawrence Williams)

Madison’s views across to St Paul’s Cathedral and beyond over the river and south London are truly spectacular.  The restaurant website calls the views ‘as inspiring as they are breathtaking’.  We were also blessed with one of the few halfway decent evenings in August, and a spectacular sunset behind St. Pauls – see picture – which definitely contributed to the overall ambience and the evening’s enjoyment.

Madison has a roof terrace – supposedly one of the biggest in London – the main bar restaurant and a cafe all on the top floor of the new shopping centre, which is reached via a glass sided lift, which itself has a remarkable view of St Paul’s on the way up.  When we arrived on a Wednesday evening the terrace area was so [popular and crowded that one virtually had to fight ones way through the throng to the restaurant doors.  Once inside we were seated promptly.  Service (which was one of the factors that seemed to attract  ire from reviewers) was , at least in our case, attentive without being obtrusive and it was not noticeably particularly slow for those dining at tables around us so perhaps any shortcomings on this front have been addressed.

We decided to try their special champagne-based aperitif – the Moet Ice Imperial.  Apparently the Moet & Chandon champagne house had been seeing a tendency, particularly in the south of France, for champagne quaffers to add ice to their drinks and thus went ahead and developed a special demi-sec version of the famous brand designed to be taken with ice.  Madison claims to be the only London restaurant/bar serving this and the Moet branding is prominently featured in the outside terrace bar area.  At Madison the Moet  Ice Imperial is served in wine balloons rather than traditional champagne glasses allowing room for the ice, with berry fruits added as well – a sort of champagne Pimms perhaps.  It may sound a strange way to serve, and drink, a classy champagne, but the overall effect is extremely pleasant and a great way to start an evening.  But with a price of £11.50 a glass – or £70 for a bottle with the ice and fruits served in a special container so you can add your own – or the waiter can do it for you – it can add to the overall expense of the evening and is a little more costly than Madison’s normal range of cocktails.

Moet Ice Imperial (Photo: Lawrence Williams)

The menu is not a big one, and does contain some items which could be considered bar food, but there are also some excellent sounding starters and main dishes and our experience of these could not be faulted.  The food was excellent, but as noted above was quite pricey ranging up to £30 and above for the main courses.  The wine list is fairly short by today’s standards and also on the pricey side with the cheapest bottle on offer at £25.  The website quotes food prices as being from £26-40 – but from our experience that would only cover a main course and nothing else! Be prepared to spend perhaps £120 for two – rather more if one is tempted with the Moet Ice imperial or other cocktails first.

So overall a pleasant, but potentially pricey experience.  You certainly pay for the views and location, but one also suspects from the restaurateur’s viewpoint the overheads for the location on top of the City’s only modern shopping centre are probably extremely high.

 

Bar seating with a view – Madison interior (Photo credit www.jpphoto.com)

Madison is open 7 days from 10 am until late evening.  You probably need to book (telephone 020 8305 3288 you can reserve online at the restaurant at www.madisonlondon.net), although walk-ins may be possible so one can try and turn up for a drink to admire the views and hope there may be a table available if you decide to stay on and eat.  It does serve coffee as well as drinks during the day.  Even in the bar area, though, the best seats along the panoramic windows may need to be booked too and you need to be in a party of four or more to reserve this prime seating.  Probably not for the hard of hearing either, as the venue’s popularity with the many city workers from close by seems, at least for now while the evenings are relatively warm, is high – and noisy!

Lawrence Williams (August 2011)