Happy new year - may 2008 bring you (and me!) lots of delectable eating experiences.
I haven't started badly so far, checking out 1802 after reading a rave review on another blog. It's concealed among the much-of-a-muchness chain bars on the waterfront at West India Quay - an area with ample outdoor seating which comes on to its own on balmy summer's evening but can seem a bit drab in cold January. It's also the restaurant of the Museum of Docklands which I have yet to get round to visiting. But it's actually much more promising than those descriptions imply – which is perhaps less surprising when you realise it’s run by Searcy’s who generally do a pretty good job.
The interior makes more of the old docks building than any of its neighbours (judged the husband), with exposed indoor brickwork, metal piping, gentle candle light and lots of light streaming in from the floor to ceiling windows. There are some comfy-looking brown leather sofas for more casual drinks or snacks to one side. Otherwise there are black leather chairs and wooden tables. The menu is quite short, in the traditional gastro pub vein. At lunchtime there are also three options of mains and a drink for £10 for those in a hurry/on a budget. On our visit these included a steak and ale pie and a lamb burger, but in our typical fashion we fancied something else and ended up spending more money.
I had the cesar salad for £9.50, choosing hot smoked salmon as my protein over the also-on-offer chicken and crayfish. The combination actually worked really well, and the salmon wasn't overpowered by the dressing or the anchovies. (Apologies - I was hungry so dug in before I remembered to take a photo. The plate looked much prettier when it was first served.) If I could change one thing, I might have gone with more lettuce and a bit less of the flavoursome stuff for a better balance, but then you can't really complain when you get more of the expensive ingredients and less of the cheap ones. The husband's sausage and mash was good, with two stumpy bangers for £11.00. There's also a good beer list, including both dark and white Erdinger wheat beer (£4.20). It’s not cheap -- but then this is the land of moneyed suit-wearing bankers – and they do get minus points for adding on a 12.5 percent service charge to the bill and then getting the credit card machine to solicit a second tip.
But overall I'm chuffed to have discovered this place, and am just hoping that they change the menu often enough for lots of return visits.
1802, Museum in Docklands No. 1 Warehouse, West India Quay, Canary Wharf, E14 4AL; Tube: Canary Wharf