Canary Wharf is an odd place, no? Glitzy, polished and somewhat dead behind the eyes. Well, not on the 37th floor of the Novotel Canary Wharf, where a loud restaurant and bar – split across two floors – offers some character to the otherwise soulless concrete mass. Predominantly French waiting staff, dressed in Levi’s and braces, energetically welcome guests, engage them in conversation and smile. What a treat. According to many of them, however, it has taken some time for the sleek operation to develop its charm. I noticed that the post-work finance crowd don’t want to be engaged, they wave their HSBC black card and expect a drink to be plonked in-front of them with emotionless efficiency. Bokan offers only a Galic shrug to the droids and operates with admirable energy.
I was treated to the tasting menu and wine pairing by my father, who was in town and required a dining partner. We were seated by the window with a fantastic view of the metropolis we choose to inhabit – the Shard looked like a sewing needle from our vantage point.
The tasting menu is a fine way to sample what Bokan has to offer. We started with a refreshing and zesty Amuse Bouche before heading straight into marinated sea bass, orange ponzu and burned blood orange. The sea bass was firm yet tender and the ponzu did not overpower the delicate flavour of the fish. The seafood kept coming. We dived into king scallop dressed in almond jus, coriander and artichoke puree – small pieces of razor clam littered the scallop shell that served as a plate. All in all, the fish was a very pleasant start. Hungry as ever, we decided to tackle the next course as soon as the plates were lifted from the table. Handmade orecchiette pasta, morels, green asparagus, Sherry and Warwickshire berkswell was well made, a great combination of seasonal flavours but just a little over seasoned.
After a short break, having digested some food and the view, British rose veal, surrounded by a moat of Climpson & Sons’ coffee foam, served with chicory and indulgent mash potato landed before us. The veal was delicate, tender and everything it should have been. I was not convinced, at first, by the coffee flavoured accompaniment but grew to accept it was a pleasant combination. To finish, chocolate tuile, milk & dark chocolate cream, walnut praline with vanilla ice cream. Tasted great, for the South Park fans – it looked like Mr Hankey.
The food was lovely, the setting stunning but the star of the evening was Nelson, the Portuguese sommelier. He was attentive and knowledgeable, showing us some great wines. From French rose, English sparkling, Italian red and some of his native Portuguese tipples – each pairing was a good match. Ten out of ten Nelson.
We left Bokan full and a bit pissed. Let’s just say it’s a good job we didn’t have to take the stairs.
Check out their Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/bokanlondon/
Check out their website here: http://bokanlondon.co.uk/