A few weeks ago, we confessed to not being all-seeing and all-knowing, and asked for help in finding good, new destinations among the thin pickings in E14. This floating Chinese restaurant, not far from Crossharbour DLR, was amongst nominations. Though we had paid a visit in the dim and distant past, the reminders from readers suggested a re-visit might be in order. On re-acquaintance the place fell rather short of restaurant perfection, but did offer three main points of interest.
The first is that it’s not owned by a chain. Is it the high rents, or demands for cast iron covenants that have made Canary Wharf itself pretty much a no-go area for the independent restaurateur? Whatever the cause, the resulting range of lowest-common-denominator outlets in the area is awful and sapping. That’s not to say that the Lotus’s service is especially charming – it certainly isn’t – but at least they are genuinely brusque: you don’t feel you’re just being processed by the agents of some faceless chain.
Secondly, Lotus is really quite cheap. True, the food is nothing to get hugely excited about. But the light bite dim sum menu (£10.80) comprises around a dozen generous pieces – you really only need top it off with a bottle of beer, and you’ve got yourself a pretty decent light lunch for well under £20 a head.
Thirdly. Call us juvenile and tacky, but you just can’t beat floating restaurants. There’s something about eating on the water that adds a sense of occasion to any dining experience, however banal it may otherwise be. If you’re looking for a budget festive meal and can’t get out of E14, you could do a great deal worse. Christmas parties – big and small – should feel right at home here.