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Jazz and fine Scottish Food at Boisdale Canary Wharf:
Cabot Square, Canary Wharf is just off the main shopping area and as such has a slightly quieter, classier feel. On our way to Boisdale for dinner we stopped off at Iberico for apperitifs and I kept looking longingly at the legs of Iberico Jamon…we’ll definitely be back when there’s no dietary constraint like an evening meal already booked elsewhere!
Boisdale itself runs across two floors of a large building running the length of one side of the square. The first floor grill has a cigar terrace and open area for drinking as well as a grill for slightly less formal dining. Upstairs the formal restaurant is large with a decent sized stage area at one end and pleasant window tables overlooking the square. And a very large whisky bar! The Jazz starts at 9pm and there’s a cover charge for the music, so if you don’t want to listen you need to eat early or downstairs. And, that’s my only real question about the place. The food is very good and the atmosphere before the Jazz starts is quite relaxed. Once the music starts, at least on the evening we were there, it takes over – a full band rather than a piano player and singer. They DO have an impressive list of artists over the next few months including Sarah Jane Morris, Jools Holland himself and Tony Christie. So if you were looking for somewhere to go for a night out, you might wonder if the main event at Boisdale is the Jazz or the food.
Anyway, the main event for me was definitely the food (though I enjoyed Kai’s Cats too)! And I was delighted to see that the majority of the menu used Scottish ingredients – most of the fish (though bizarrely not the catch of the day, which was Icelandic Cod) and the very fine steaks.
Of course being a Maclean, I was duty bound to try the Isle of Mull hand dived scallops with black pudding and apple. They didn’t disappoint at all, a classic dish but beautifully presented with scallops still tender and nicely seared to give just a hint of caramel.
My dining companion chose Hebridean Crab Tian with Smoked Salmon. While he didn’t question the quality of the ingredients, loving the very clearly ‘proper’ smoked salmon and the light fresh crab, he did think the smoked salmon rather overwhelmed the crab. I suspect that is partly a matter of taste and since the two were separate on the plate, it didn’t actually detract from either crab or smoked salmon…just meant he enjoyed two starters!
It is, of course, the Grouse season and Boisdale have a special dish of Grouse with all the trimmings (bread sauce, redcurrant jelly, jus and game chips) for something of a bargain price of £24.95. Since there’s a really short season when we can enjoy this bird, I decided it was the obvious choice. It arrived beautifully cooked and with a little plate of accompaniments on the side.
My companion picked one of the more extravagant steak options. He kept away from the very large t-bone steak…and instead chose a 7oz fillet, served with fois gras and truffles. And, it looked and (apparently) tasted fabulous (I didn’t get a chance to try…!).
Too full for dessert I chose the petit fours, while my dining companion disappointment at the lack of crème brulee (he likes the idea of benchmarking London’s crème brulees!) soon vanished. He really enjoyed the softer alternative of a crème caramel, saying that the caramel sauce was beautifully rich. My petit fours were pretty, the tiny macarons very pleasant and the chocolate morsels nicely rich.
We enjoyed a bottle of the house claret with our meal. The wine list is quite comprehensive with a mix of reasonably priced and some quite stratospheric wines (well it is in the heart of the city) and a short, quite exclusive list priced for members. I really like the other programme of events that they have listed which ranges from wine and whisky tasting to dinners of foraged food. I suspect that if I lived and worked in the city the grill and the whisky bar would become a regular haunt. And, it’s really a fabulous night out, especially if you want a great meal followed by live jazz.