Boisdale of Canary Wharf, Cabot Place, London. E14 4QT
We have only eaten in Canary Wharf a couple of times and on both occasions we’ve been left feeling a little flat and disappointed. It seems to us that the restaurants here don’t have to try too hard to keep up standards, due to the fact that they have a captive (and very monied) audience. These establishments don’t even have to be competitively priced or follow the food trends sweeping the rest of London. When we were invited along to the Boisdale of Canary Wharf we were hoping that all the above comments would be proved wrong, but sadly not.
Before we go into detail why let us point out some of the positive points… The first floor Oyster Bar & Grill had a real buzz, full of ‘happy that it’s the weekend and the sun’s finally shining’ drinkers. The menu looked exciting, especially the small plates and burgers. The fresh produce is supplied by the brilliant Secretts Farm, so that appeared to be a good start.
The decor was a lot more contemporary than the restaurant on the next floor up and we loved the framed art and photos, some of which are for sale. Another big plus point was the terrace, it gave fab views over the docklands and across London. And talking of views the Whisky Bar upstairs is a sight to behold, hundreds of bottles sparkling on the backlit shelves. Finally the staff were friendly, informative and attentive without being ‘in your face’.
Now onto the review proper… Our reservation, on the second floor Restaurant & Whisky Bar, was booked for 7.30 and as we were shown to our table we thought that the restaurant was empty, it wasn’t, most of the diners were sat at the ceiling to floor windows enjoying the views.
The table was set in a very classic, if somewhat dated manner. There was a thin white tapered candle in a candelabra and a single red rose in a small vase. So to continue this late 70s theme Saff decided to order an Atlantic Prawn Cocktail with English lettuce, green Harissa mayonnaise & Marie-rose sauce £10.75. It was served in a retro/futuristic glass bowl. The prawns were good, to be fair all of the fish and meat we tasted were of excellent quality, but the Marie Rose and shredded lettuce were watery. The Harissa mayonnaise has all washed down to the bottom leaving a very hot and spicy liquid.
I ordered the Isle of Mull Diver Caught Scallops £19.50, served with Cox’s apple Purée & black pudding. The trio of scallops had a soft almost jelly like texture that complimented the rich and slightly crispy black pudding. It’s just a shame that the blood sausage was sliced so thinly and that the apple sauce was too finely blitzed and bland. It also made us chuckle that the scallop shells were kept in place on the plate by a dollop of mash… It was also the first time in ages that we noticed that we weren’t asked how our meals were in between courses. Plates were whisked away, no questions asked.
We ordered a bottle of Sangiovese di Romagna doc Reserva 2008, Italy £29.50, a not too heavy drinkable red at a good price. This went perfectly with my Italian Sausages £11, the special ‘beast’ of the day. This was served with a sour gooseberry compote. Loved this sharp flavour with the spicy, almost floral, taste of the dense pork sausages.
I had also ordered a side of Whipped King Edward Potatoes £4.00 (or £3.59 if you order them at the Oyster Bar & Grill, the thick cut chips had a £1 difference – outrageous!). This was light and lump free but turned up over five minutes after our main course was served. The waitress tried to explain the region of Italy were these sausages came from, but the volume of the music had been ramped up in preparation of the live stage show (a little more on this later).
It had become obvious that 7.30 was a little early to start dining as the restaurant did start getting busy till around 8.30 – 9.00, again with the show in mind. Saff went for the Rhug Farm Organic pork & gooseberries, braised for 12 hours then pan roasted, served with wild rocket & artichoke heart £21. Again the quality of the pork was excellent and the gooseberries worked as well as they did with the sausages. But, and this is a big but, our plates were smeary, they hadn’t been washed and dried properly, big runs and greasy fingerprints covered our crockery.
Time to order our desserts… We hoped that these plates would be cleaner, wrong! As for the food, Saff’s Crème caramel with Chantilly & almond tuille £6.50 was the best part of the meal, a thick creamy pillowy texture.
It was so much better than my Sticky toffee pudding, caramel sauce & Cornish clotted cream £6.50. The actual pudding was mouth burningly piping hot, I guess it had been microwaved rather steamed. The taste was fairly bland too, only rescued by the sweet caramel and thick cream.
As we were finishing our bottle of red the band came on stage. It was a Dean Martin tribute band starring Mark Adams, unfortunately we had to be somewhere else but from what we heard it sounded pretty good. They have acts on nightly ranging from jazz to rock to blues for more details go online or call 020 7715 5818. This could be a cracking venue, it has a fab bar, terrace and strong line up of live music – it just needs the restaurant to up its game.
Boisdale of Canary Wharf,
Cabot Place, London. E14 4QT
Opening hours: Mon – Fri:11am – midnight
Saturday:11am – midnight
Sunday: Open only 29.07; 05.08 & 12.08 2012:11am – 6pm
Telephone: 020 7715 5818