British, Modern Restaurants in Canary Wharf
1. The Ivy in the Park British, Modern restaurant in Tower Hamlets 50 Canada Square - E14
“You wouldn’t go for ‘haute cuisine’, but as a jolly place to eat comfort food in a spectacular setting, it is hard to beat” – that’s the upbeat view, anyway, on this now-“ubiquitous” brasserie chain. Eight years and 40 openings later, the spin-offs increasingly eclipse the Theatreland original (see also), whose Edwardian features provide the style-guide for its nationwide ‘roll out’. “Even if the unchallenging food reaches no heights, there’s a consistent buzz”, which makes them a “posh”, “fun” choice for a get-together, if not a particularly foodie one. This is particularly the case at the landmark London off-shoots: at ‘Chelsea Garden’ (“gorgeous greenery”); Kensington (“slick”, with a “pretty glitzy crowd”); and on the Thames (“great views over Tower Bridge”). But while it’s always been acknowledged that the mass offering is “a shadow of the mothership’s” – with “average grub at not-so-average prices” – the feeling that the brand has become just “a chain that does not excite” is gaining ever-stronger currency. Service seems more “stretched” nowadays, and a sliding ambience rating is making the whole offering seem ever-more “overrated, for all its modern art and perky décor”.
2. Humble Grape British, Modern restaurant in Tower Hamlets 18-20 Mackenzie Walk - E14
“The whole package – great food, staff and incredible wines” – wins hymns of praise for James Dawson’s wine shop/club/bar/kitchen combination that now has five branches across central London. The focus is on sustainable, small-scale independent producers, with many wines available by the glass.
3. The Gun British, Modern restaurant in Canary Wharf 27 Coldharbour - E14
Directly across the Thames from the O2 – and a short drive from Canary Wharf – this Grade II listed tavern benefits from a superb waterside location, characterful old interior and large modern terrace. Nowadays run by Fuller’s, it’s not a foodie pub as it was a few years ago, but still wins praise for “great food, super cocktails and friendly staff”.
4. Caravan British, Modern restaurant in Canary Wharf Unit 2, Reuters Plaza - E14
“Delicious shakshuka with maxing smoky flavours” is typical of the “colourful and flavoursome” brunch-friendly dishes at this “very buzzy if not loud” chain, known for its “top coffee” (which they roast themselves), and whose best-known sites are the Exmouth Market original and large Granary Square branch. Recently, they also added an opening in Canary Wharf and a brew bar at their Caledonian Road roastery (not listed), with further ‘measured expansion’ planned. For the most part, they are still mostly seen as a “reliable” choice for an “interesting and healthy” breakfast: “not everything is a hit but for a casual lunch I am pretty happy”. Top Tip – “when the sun is shining, it’s worth waiting for an outside table” in N1.
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