Voted best restaurant in the Wharf’, says the website of this big and busy Canary Wharf oriental (which has recently emerged from a major refurbishment). Well, they’re certainly getting bums on seats: the large, ground floor pan-Asian brasserie – a good mates’ get-together kind of place – has a nice buzz to it. Today, though, we’re set on grander things, and ascend the rather theatrical staircase to the large fine dining room, which has been given a hint of modish bordello-style.
Up here, they’ve sensibly decided to concentrate on one cuisine: Thai. It is priced at a level to raise expectations, though – these are, after all, dishes that can be done brilliantly, very cheaply.
We order spring rolls (admittedly a corny choice, but all the more reason to check it out). They come generous and crispy, and full of vegetables. A good start. Thereafter, we can never quite decide if the glass is half-full or half-empty. The initial impression of another classic, Tom Ka Gai (coconut chicken soup), for example, is favourable, but further investigation reveals a rather fundamental omission: the chicken seems to have absolutely no taste. Choosing a less usual sort of dish, crispy monkfish, we find it sort-of-succeeds. Once again, however, a fundamental part of the advertised formula seems to be missing: the monkfish was there all right, but crispy it was not.
So, would the ‘best restaurant in the Wharf’ impress anyone used to dining out in London, say? They might think it was a congenial sort of place a less formal sort of business meeting, and jolly useful if there wasn’t much else about. But a culinary destination in its own right? Probably not.