Butlers Wharf Chop House, 36e Shad Thames, London SE1 2YE
Who knew you could get both brilliant value and pleasing food with one of the best views in London… The longstanding Chop House at Butler’s Wharf provides the most spectacular views of Tower Bridge, without being touristy. I had not been for ten years or so when I worked nearby. As a treat my work colleagues and I would take advantage of their bar menu which was a bargain then and still is now. £15 for three courses is damn good.
The main reason for our visit was to check our their English Summer garden. They’ve decked out the bar and terrace with grass, complete with white picket fences and blossom to celebrate the Tower Bridge Summer Festival, plus the Jubilee. As a break from the norm, I left Ade at home and went along with three girlfriends.
Unfortunately the rain prevented us from taking in ‘that view’ with a table outside, but every now and then we’d peer round the table out the window to remind ourselves of where we were and the view we were missing. We had the ‘cheap seats’ in the bar area, although it still feels restauranty, the more formal restaurant side is a bit more expensive, round tables with white tablecloths and lots and lots of suits, it was just as I remembered from all those years ago. The staff were friendly and patient with our nattering, I think we were a novelty for our waiter amongst the mostly male clientele.
A selection of complimentary bread (always good) was delivered, the rosemary bread was delicious. I decided what to order from the short menu faster than usual, am not sure if that’s good or bad… The menu offers simple, hearty British food, nostalgic recipes from around the British Isles. We kicked things off with a cocktail each from the extensive menu, my Hot Chilly Passion - Ketel One, Passion Fruit Liqueur, Apple Juice, Red Chilli and Sugar £7.95 was fiery and appetite inducing, I didn’t let the typo put me off – or was it a play on words?Al’s Dirty Martini – £7.95 wasn’t quite dirty enough for her but she still enjoyed it. Despite the waiter asking her how dirty she likes it, this somehow went unnoticed amongst us usually filthy-minded women apart from Al who giggled like a schoolgirl trying to catch our eye. Sue went for a rather festive option, a dessert in a glass, the Cinnamon Wonderland – Bacardi Superior, White Crème De Cacao, Mango Puree, Cinnamon, Double Cream, Sugar with Dash of Lime Juice £7.95.
Starters were all good, Anna’s Fish fingers with tartare sauce £6 looked so tempting, a thick breadcrumb coating covering the flaky white fish, a bit more of a goujon than a finger however and Anna found the coating a bit too thick. I hinted a couple of times but she didn’t offer me a taste. The small garnish of floppy browning leaves described as ‘looking a bit sad’ by Anna was a minor negative.
The Prawn cocktail £6.25 that Al and I both had was plentiful with prawns, both naked and shelled, a light sauce that lacked a bit of tang for me but the bonus was the hidden prawns at the bottom of the glass where we thought we’d just find lettuce. Sue’s Potted shrimps with toast £8.50 came in a Kilner jar and served with thickly sliced toast, she rapidly demolished the lot. Again no tasting was offered, what kind of friends are these?!
I was excited by my main of Pork chop, mash & red wine gravy £14.50, a huge hunk of meat showed up, however it was a tad on the tough side and I could have done with some more gravy, you can never have enough gravy, I should have just asked. The little pork scratching skewer was a nice touch and the chunky apple sauce was perfect. Sue was overloaded with her Spatchcock spring chicken & béarnaise £16.50, I would’ve kindly helped her out if she’d offered…Anna went French for her main: Bloody Mary mussels £9.50 drenched in a tangy sauce, accompanied by some mighty fine thick and crunchy Hand cut chips £3.00, I was most impressed with these. Whist Alex dug into a ‘melt in the mouth’ steak, Aberdeen Angus Ribeye steak & chips £25.00. All washed down with a bottle of 2011 Merlot, Ochagavia, Silvestre, Chile £22.00.
We had all made up our minds on dessert ages ago, and we all chose the same thing; Lemon posset & lavender shortbread £5.00. Normally in such a situation I would’ve gone back to the menu and opted for something else but I really, really wanted this. Yes we all looked a bit silly, but it was worth it. Once dug in to, the posset looked like butter, luckily it didn’t taste of it, smooth, creamy and tangy I savoured every last bit while Anna told us how you make it, it’s really easy apparently, maybe I’ll try it. The biscuit was perfectly light and crumbly, the lavender speckles added both flavour and colour. Good choice girls!
We rolled out of the restaurant back to the station proudly comparing swollen bloated bellies, a slightly uncomfortable reminder of a good meal.
Nearest tube/stations: London Bridge, Tower Hill or Tower Gateway for the DLR