Centre Point is iconic, at least for Londoners. It’s an imposing concrete and glass office building in central London and just above Tottenham Court Road Underground station. It couldn’t be more convenient for those using London’s equally iconic transport system.
The area is something of a building sight just now – it’s the Crossrail development – but that will be finished, and calm, as much as there ever is, will be restored to this historic corner of London. Historic? Yes, indeed, although there is scant evidence at street level. The site was once occupied by a gallows.
Centre Point was one of the first skyscrapers in London but now there are almost 30 buildings that can claim to be taller. In 1995 it was given a grade II listed building designation for its striking use of the crystalline concrete style that Richard Seifert developed. He is widely recognised for having influenced 1960s and 1970s London architecture, although that isn’t universally considered a positive accolade.
Ironically the 380-foot tower stood empty for five years after its completion in 1967 and it’s that period for which it is often remembered. It was held as a beacon of capitalism and was even used as a squat. Those days are over and Centre Point is now pristine and welcoming.
In autumn 2008 Paramount was opened at the top of Centre Point. It initially operated as a private members club, but this policy was changed in 2010 to allow Paramount to be accessible to everybody. The three floors include an event space on the 31st floor, bar and restaurant on 32nd, and a 360-degree viewing gallery on the 33rd floor – that’s the very summit of the building.
The Shard, the Cheese Grater and the Gherkin are all celebrated buildings which now dominate the London skyline but, in fact, one gets one of the best views of that impressive vista from Centre Point. It’s not only those new structures that one can see: St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the British Museum are all visible from one’s afternoon tea table at Paramount.
The restaurant has a rather retro-chic interior which matches perfectly the building at large. Plenty of light from the picture windows, dark wood on tables, and a stunning custom-made copper bar create a space that works from breakfast to dinner. I am sure the night city panorama would be outstanding and a photographer’s dream.
Head Chef Krzysztof Zachwieja has developed a menu of modern European dishes for lunch and dinner and whimsically presents an afternoon tea to pander to the party person in us. Traditional Afternoon Tea is available for those who want the more usual London experience but the High Spirits Afternoon Tea is an event and will be adored by anyone with a sweet tooth. And don’t worry – every table has an amazing view, though you are advised to book in advance.
High Spirits Afternoon Tea is served with pots of tea or coffee for £28 or a Cocktail for £42. The edible goods arrive on the ubiquitous and practical 3-tier stand and a couple of plates. Gaze with admiration at the stand but start with the warm scones with rum-soaked dried fruit. The Cointreau & Orange marmalade continues the tipsy theme that makes its mark on every element here.
Yes, those sweet treats await, but the next course is the savoury. Whisky Oak Smoked Ham with Wholegrain Mustard on Tomato Bread, Gin and Orange Cured Salmon, Lemon Butter on Lemon Bread, Mature Cheddar and Port Jelly on Rye Bread, Bloody Mary on Wholegrain Bread were the array of sandwiches that all contained booze in some guise. All good but the salmon sandwich was outstanding and the use of lemon added so much.
Raspberry Cranachan is a Whisky Crème Fraiche, Raspberry and Chambord Purée with a topping of crunchy oats – a real nod to Scotland. Porn Star Martini was a triumph of tangy Passion Fruit Bavarois, Lime Shortbread and a Prosecco Cloud which held up even after a wait while we consumed the previous plates. Amaretto Sour was a chocolate ‘vase’ of Amaretto Tiramisu and Lime Mascarpone. Coffee Bailey’s is a Cream Bailey’s mousse that reminded me of the Christmas drinks cabinet – Chocolate Mousse, Crunchy Caramel and Coffee Crumble completed this confection. Brandy and Cherry Cola didn’t sound too appealing but it really worked. It arrived after we had consumed the rest of the sweets. It’s a rich Cherry and Brandy Compote, Cola Jelly, Cola Granita and Sherbet.
The Paramount restaurant at Centre Point should be on the itinerary of every tourist. The High Spirits Afternoon Tea is competitively priced and it’s an occasion to sample a twist on the regular afternoon tea, that is a must for any traveller to the UK. Come here and be stunned by London laid out before you.
Mon – Wed: 7.00 am –1.30am
Thurs – Fri: 7.00am – 2.30am
Sat: noon – 2.30am
Sun: noon – 10.00pm
101-103 New Oxford Street
Tel: +44 (0)20 7420 2900
Fax: +44 (0)20 7420 2919
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018