I had never felt more like I was being escorted to meet some Italian mafia boss than I did when I went to Alto restaurant at the top of Selfridges! Very exciting.
I was only meeting my friends for lunch on a Sunday afternoon and managed to find my way to the magic “express lift” in the beauty section, which would supposedly take you right to the top of the building. Although when I arrived, I found a woman with a clipboard standing at the Alto elevator which was wreathed with green plants and flowers. Asking me and a few others if I had a reservation, she informed us that the magic express lift was out of order and that her colleague would be down to “escort” us up. She radioed to someone in Italian and a couple of minutes later an Italian man in a dark blue suit arrived to escort us up in the lift as we would not find the way. On the ride up he too was speaking quietly into a radio in Italian! He escorted us through the children’s section and to a service staircase, where another impeccably dressed woman met us and escorted us via the back entrance, where we walked past the kitchen. It was all so James Bond “I want to meet your employer” -esque that by the time I arrived on the roof top of the restaurant I wondered when I would meet this imaginary Italian gangster. Alas, this was not the case and I had arrived a bit early for my reservation. My friends did not have such a straightforward journey to the restaurant as they were running around the first floor trying to find the magic lift when it was on the ground floor!
The restaurant itself is lovely with lots of natural light thanks to the retractable roof, which can be opened and closed according to the weather. Unfortunately it was a rainy summer day in London, but it was really cosy to still feel as if you were outside.
Luckily while I waited for my friends I had time to peruse the extensive menu of small plates on offer. The idea here is that you order five or six plates between two people to share, which is perfect for the summer or if you are not sure how hungry you are. The food on offer sounds so good and I guarantee there will be something for everyone here.
We were three people and we opted for the:
- Beef Tagliata: grilled fillet steak marinated in chilli and garlic, topped with rocket and parmesan
- Zucchine Fritti: fried courgette sticks
- Grilled avocado served with sun-blushed tomatoes, olives and capers tartare
- Caciucco, Tuscan Fish Stew with bread top baked in the oven
- Grilled Tuna steak with Quinoa
- Chargrilled Spatchcock Chicken, ‘diavola’ style with seared little gem
- Buffalo Mozzarella, tomato, avocado and basil
- Cantaloupe melon and Prosciutto ham
- Spinach with garlic and chilli
My favourites were the beef because it was so tender and perfectly cooked, the avocado (because avo) and the mozzarella (because cheese).
All the dishes came out as they were ready so you could eat them one-by-one or you could wait until they were all there and eat them together. Although the real show-stopper was the Tuscan fish stew which is their speciality. The waiter brought it to the table and cut around the pastry, rolling the lid back like a tin can to reveal all the vibrant reds, pinks and greys of the tomatoes, shrimp and mussels. That was pretty cool and a nice touch.
This was such a lovely dining experience and I imagine it would be great sitting up there on a sunny, dry day as it would feel like you were sitting outside on a rooftop terrace in Sicily. I would definitely recommend this restaurant as the food was lovely and the staff were so friendly and attentive. Definitely coming back!