"Superbly cooked Indian food in a stunning modern environment"All In London Rating: Added Tue 18 May 2010 - Reviewed by KimT
You feel like you are entering a private club as you walk across the impressive high ceiling reception area with a traditional nautical star tiled floor and large closed doors on either side. The pleasant receptionist, who politely takes your coat, makes you feel like you are a treasured member.
Shown through the door on your left you enter a classically smart and spacious dining area that has the feeling of being in the private home of a rather wealthy business person. There are probably about 12 tables of varying size in here but on this Monday evening it is quiet – although later on there were a smattering of couples, and a couple of groups – one including an incredibly well behaved child. And the room took on a softer and more intimate glow as candles were lit. Charming.
But we walked through a small vestibule to enter a stunning area with a panoramic glass wall and ceiling (well done the architect!) containing a further 15 or so tables and a couple of window-side leather seated booths. We were sat at one of these booths overlooking a substantial walled garden (which is linked to the downstairs cellar that has two bars, a series of linked areas – one possibly for dancing, another for relaxing on the assortment of smart sofas – which must be perfect for a private party as it caters for just about every eventuality – and all done in breathtakingly simple, modern and tasteful decor).
We were so taken with the architectural loveliness of this room – particularly as it adds to the unique character of the traditional building. Anyway, we requested a glass of white wine and were persuaded by the professional but chatty young waiter to try the Indian Sauvignon Blanc – light, subtle and very easy to drink.
Whilst the extensive menu here has all of your favourite Indian restaurant dishes – for example starters from around £7 and main courses from around £14 and the usual selection of vegetable and naan bread sides – there is a modern twist on many of the dishes.
We decided to treat ourselves to the tasting menu – which is steep at £55 per person (and we didn’t opt for the £90 version with five different wines) – and this turned out to be an excellent decision.
First up was a small square white plate containing a lentil and spinach fritter about the size of a golfball nestled on a bed of sauce with a whirl of tamarind and mint flavours. Words cannot describe the taste sensation – needless to say we were impressed.
Then came a three dish platter for each of us containing three delicate dishes - a charcoal grilled saffron prawn, a chunk of fennel flavoured sword fish (incredible!) and a crisp fried chilli scallop. Each mouthful was a explosion of sensations and we desperately wanted more of the same, even knowing that we were only just starting our gastronomic journey.
Three more tempting dishes arrived in a similar manner – a ginger lamb chop on a tiny bed of rocket and chilli sauce, a tandoori grilled chicken breast with pomegranate and a mint/cheese sauce and a duck confit samosa with sweet tamarind sauce. We couldn’t believe our luck with the amazing flavours but were beginning to doubt whether we were going to able to manage the main course and desserts.
A mouthful or two of blood orange sorbet to clear the palate (the scent was very strong and delicious) and we were onto the main course. A large plate containing prawn in coconut moilee sauce, chicken in korma sauce and spice crusted lamb with curried chick peas – as well as a pile of pilau rice and some plain naan bread. We were surprised at the substantial amount of food in front of us after all the initial dishes but it was so good we kept on eating.
Now the dessert selection (another three-on-a-plate affair!) wasn’t very Indian. The vanilla ice cream was as good as any I have tasted in Italy. My friend raved over the banana tarte tatiin with coconut sorbet and we both fell into silent ecstasy on the warm chocolate fondant…words cannot describe…
The food was faultlessly cooked and there were some unforgettable flavours along the way – all presented beautifully. The building was fabulous and the staff just so very amenable. This is not just an Indian restaurant folks…
In addition to the two areas of the main restaurant and the huge cellar bar, garden and outdoor areas the building also has two other bars for private hire – one on the ground floor and another upstairs which would comfortably host an upmarket drinks do for around 50 or so people. There are also two linked private dining rooms – each seating around 20 or so people – with a lovely ambience that would easily impress even the most worldly wise and picky business guests.
The restaurant is a little off the beaten track though and I’m not sure about the parking arrangements – right opposite the Cineworld, 10 minutes walk from Canary Wharf tube station (across the walkway and past Via – where you might stop for a waterside drink on the way as we did), two minutes from Westferry or a hop, skip and a jump from the Marriott Hotel (great cocktail bar there too) – but this is a fantastic restaurant and well worth the effort if you like superbly cooked Indian food with subtle spice flavours in a stunning modern, classy but relaxed environment.
Official All In London review for Dockmasters Restaurant