Cocktails with a view
An understated entrance leads to a lift, which whisks us up 38 floors to a sprawling, dimly-lit bar. The decor has an elegantly mismatched industrial vibe, with exposed brickwork, metal beams and wooden floorboards.
We opt to have a drink in the bar before our meal, and our friendly host leads us to a table by the window – and what a window.
Floor-to-ceiling glass wraps around the bar on all sides, giving us a breathtaking view out over the city. I doubt any other Canary Wharf restaurants – or indeed many buildings in London – offer such an incredible view. It’s worth a visit in itself.
It’s hard to tear my eyes away from the twinkling skyline, but I manage it to peruse the extensive cocktail menu. I choose a concoction of tequila, whisky, pistachio and lime. It’s unusual and both zingy and creamy at the same time – not to mention very pretty.
I could happily stay and sip cocktails next to that view all evening, but hunger calls us downstairs to the 37th floor restaurant. Luckily the enormous panes of glass continue down here, and once again we’re seated next to a window.
An entertainingly rambunctious waiter serves us an amuse bouche in a teacup. It’s carrot soup, with shards of crispy carrot and a sesame tang.
Bouches suitably amused, we move onto the starters. My octopus and beetroot salad is show-stoppingly beautiful: alternating chunks of the two signature ingredients form a glowing pink coil across the plate (a tentacle, perhaps?), topped with a sprinkling of colourful flower petals. It tastes as good as it looks, the chewy octopus contrasting nicely with the firmness of the beetroot.
My companion’s crispy hen’s egg comes in a tangled nest of crunchy potato, caramelised onion and Cumbrian cured ham, and topped with gouda foam. It’s like ham, egg and chips’ trendier, more sophisticated cousin, and is very satisfying indeed.
My main course of corn-fed poussin and red tiger prawn is once again lovely to look at. Plump chunks of poussin, pleasingly large tiger prawns and squat potato dumplings are the vehicles for an artful and generous drizzle of lobster sauce. The poussin is lovely and tender and the prawns tasty, but the lobster sauce turns out to be a little overpowering, obscuring the other flavours somewhat.
My companion’s charcoal-grilled lamb is the star of the meal – it’s excellently cooked, melt-in-the-mouth juicy and full of flavour, and is accompanied by a spicy, citrusy mix of carrots and yoghurt. A side of roasted vegetables is, surprisingly, another standout dish. The mixed root vegetables have just the right amount of bite, and the perfect balance of buttery saltiness and earthy sweetness.
Something sweet to finish
Although the portions look on the small side, I’m comfortably full by this point – a constant supply of wonderfully crusty bread and butter may have helped – but there’s still room for dessert.
We share a roasted pineapple pavlova, a dainty stack of sticky pineapple, delicate pastel-green matcha and coconut foam, crisp meringue and piña colada sorbet. It’s light and fluffy and gooey and refreshing all at once.
Prices are about what you’d expect from Canary Wharf restaurants. Starters range from £9-14 and mains from £24-34, with desserts around the £9 mark. The wine list is varied, ranging from £28.50-65, and cocktails are £12.50-15.50. There’s also a tasting menu for £65 per person, or £105 with matching wine.
Canary Wharf restaurants: Bōkan is a sky-high treat
The 37th floor of a Novotel may not seem like the most likely place to find a decent restaurant, but Bōkan really puts the ‘hot’ in hotel (sorry). If you want dinner with a view, Bōkan is the place to go.
We’ll be back soon with more reviews of restaurants in Canary Wharf and across London, as well as lots of recommendations for things to do and places to go.