LONDON EATERIES – Fun with fish and meringue at the Parlour Canary Wharf
London is saturated with restaurants, just as a fry up is saturated with fat! The choice for a dinner venue has never been so big! But the problem with all these high streets and shopping malls with chains that dominate them; chains that offer the same tried and tested, tediously dull menus! Also, as the prices of these meals go up, the portions seem to decline with an inverse ratio. I once told an automaton of a waitress, in a so called American diner in Covent Garden, that this meal is hardly representative of American portions, a sparrow would starve on this! To which she replied that this is our standard size. Thankfully the manageress was more accommodating and offered me a free desert as compensation. But the damage had already been done. So I can be a bit sceptical when I enter a restaurant for the first time, hoping that I won’t leave even more hungry than when I entered. I am not a gluttonous buffet addict, like you see in places like Orlando, but I like to be well fed and fed with quality at that! Then there is the ambience of the place. Is it lively? Is it intimate? Is it rowdy? Or is it just dead! Basically I want to eat a decent dinner with atmosphere!
Cue The Parlour in Canary Wharf!
As I waited outside for my friend to accompany me for dinner, I could feel my hunger pains start to knot my stomach. I stared into the evening’s venue and saw that it was a very lively bar. At first I thought I didn’t want to be sat on some high-raised stool like some demented parrot, surrounded by rowdy boozers. But at least it wasn’t dead! When my friend arrived we were greeted with a very welcoming hostess who led us to the actual restaurant area, which was located behind the bar, and was much calmer, but still energised. I liked the little décor, with touches of fur cushions on all of the seats and the open kitchen, juxtaposed immediately in front of us. Combine that with the floor to ceiling windows, the entire area just felt open and alive and not in the least bit repressive. Instantly the feeling of fun was beginning to manifest in me.
We were presented with the drinks menu, and instantly I was drawn to the ciroc colada cocktail. It’s a deliciously decadent mix of ciroc coconut vodka, pineapple juice, egg white and lemon juice. And as the ingredients suggested, it looked and tasted like an alcoholic lemon meringue! Not only do they have intriguing cocktails, but they have an extensive wine menu too.
It’s a deliciously decadent mix of ciroc coconut vodka, pineapple juice, egg white and lemon juice. And as the ingredients suggested, it looked and tasted like an alcoholic lemon meringue!
Looking at the starters I opted for the mussels and my friend selected the satay chicken. The portions were more than generous, especially for a starter, so I was instantly pleased. The mussels were perfect, but I have to confess, I found the tomato-based sauce a little bland – it had some seasoning, but it needed just a little more gusto! Anyway that’s the only negative comment I am going to give, because my main, whole lemon soul pan sautéed in butter with new potatoes topped with tomato and caper salsa, was a taste bud tantaliser. I have not derived that much pleasure from a fish since shark-cage diving in South Africa a couple of years ago. I was stunned by the taste of it. I was later informed by the hostess, who I suspected was South-African herself, that The Parlour wanted to promote itself as a fish speciality restaurant. The cocktails may be a little pricey, but lemon soul of this calibre for a mere £13.50, is like eating lobster in a chip shop! My friend had chicken in a basket and it literally came in a basket! Reflecting over the main menu, there is an extensive range of more interesting meals than found in the usual generic chains. For example, there was a Wagyu burger or sweet potato cottage pie. I find that often after an amazing main, a disappointing desert follows. But no! The pudding was on par with the mains. Again, not just the predictable chocolate brownie, which was available by the way, but dishes such as the Wagon Wheel, made from feather light meringue, or the winterberry crumble, conventional with a delicious twist. I chose the Flaming Baked Alaska with kirsch soaked cherries. It was absolutely ambrosial and the portion was decent. I like decent sized deserts, not everyone is on a diet in January.
Whole lemon soul pan sautéed in butter with new potatoes topped with tomato and caper salsa, was a taste bud tantaliser. I have not derived that much pleasure from a fish since shark-cage diving in South Africa a couple of years ago.
At the end of the meal I was given a tiramisu martini, a pudding cocktail made with espresso, martini, gingerbread Ketel One vodka and mascarpone. Divine! Unfortunately I could only allow myself one sip, as I didn’t want to be kept awake by the caffeine – otherwise I would have had several cups not just a measly sip!
At the end of the meal I was given a tiramisu martini, a pudding cocktail made with espresso, martini, gingerbread Ketel One vodka and mascarpone. Divine!
So on exiting the venue and we had a fun time. The Parlour managed to satisfy me on so many levels. I loved the atmosphere, very attentive staff, and dishes that were on par with an a la carte restaurant. The Parlour is thoroughly recommended for a great night out with good food and drink and life in the air!
The Park Pavilion, Canary Wharf Group, 40 Canada Square, London E14 5FW Tel: 0845 468 0100
Heart London 5 * Rating
Darren Cheers, Heart London Magazine