What to say about the Shard that isn’t said by the fact it is 1,020 feet high and looks like a slightly elongated cheese triangle, and that it is designed as a home and office for those who want nothing more than to live and work in a building that looks like a slightly elongated cheese triangle? I cannot help but think that its architect, who is called Renzo Piano, is a fan of — or possibly secret PR for — Dairylea and was also a very unhappy small boy. [. . . ]
We are in Hutong, a Chinese restaurant on the 33rd floor; there are two other restaurants here, one called Oblix, which does International Yawn, Fart and Divorce, and one called Aqua Shard, which is that most unlikely thing, ‘Innovative British’. Hutong is very ugly in appearance — at least they have a theme. It is a barn of windows and metal and air; the floors are grey, the walls are brown; it is corporate anywhere, a world of self-hatred and sundered PowerPoint presentations. [. . . ]
The chicken salad is frozen, the noodles are thick, greasy, a dead man’s beard; huge lumps of lobster swimming in sauce are terrifying to look at, let alone taste; beef is charred; rice sings with grease. The service is what I call wracked competent, but this is Event Dining at its most empty, and after piling the table with crockery, they lose interest. We rise to ask for the bill; we sink, in a cold, fast lift, to the earth.