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Manhattan Grill at the Marriott, West India Quay.
Guest Feature by Lisa Hooper:
With Canary Wharf swamped by mostly chain “middle of the road” restaurants, it’s a pleasure to find something a little classier in the area. So I was delighted to receive an invitation to review the Manhattan Grill.
Situated on the ground level of the impressive Marriott Hotel, this glass fronted restaurant has some impressive views of the West India Quay riverside and of the bright lights of Canary Wharf.
This is a large, open plan restaurant, where even the kitchen is on full display. However, our table was set in the window and felt intimate enough to enjoy a candlelit dinner.
Upon first arriving, we were asked if we would like to do some wine tasting. Not ones to refuse such an offer, we were taken over to the impressive wine area. Wine by the glass is dispensed from their state-of-the-art Enomatic Wine Dispenser. This machine keeps the wine fresh after opening, by preventing it from oxidising in the bottle. We were asked what sort of red wine we preferred and having said a lighter one, were given about 4 different varieties to try. Our waiter talked us through the different wines and told us which cut of meat he would pair them with. Surprisingly he was a waiter and not a sommelier. We tried a Vidal Pinot Noir from New Zealand, which was the lightest of the wines we tried and would be a good accompaniment to a fillet steak. An Argentinian, Aruma Malbec, which was a little more punchy and would be served with a more marbled steak. However, we surprised ourselves by liking the Chateau D’Assieres the best. This was the most full bodied of the wines and a good accompaniment to a Rib Eye or T-bone steak. This was apparently the waiter’s favourite as well! I have to say that the waiting staff could not be more helpful and engaging and the wine tasting is all part of the dining experience, which usually takes place at your table.
My husband rather cheekily admitted to being more of a Whiskey man than red wine lover. So once back at our table, the barman came over with three different varieties of whiskey for him to try. Again, we were talked through each variety and gained a lot of knowledge on the distilling methods. My husband was then converted from an Irish to Japanese whiskey lover!
Then it was on to the food. We were offered “a little of everything” to try. Again, how could we refuse? Our platter of starters included the Seared Black Pearl Scallops, served with Pancetta, a Garlic King Prawn, the Baked Blue Swimmer Crab Cake and a small pot of Clam Chowder. We realised straight away that the quality of food was excellent. I would be hard pressed to pick a favourite but the scallops really did cut like butter and melt in the mouth. The crab cake came with a little tartar accompaniment which was delicious. My husband though the chowder was the best he had tasted since being in San Francisco!
We were then given a selection of steaks and sides for our main course. The steak comes from two sources of cattle. The wet-aged USDA prime Black Angus comes from cattle raised on both grass and corn, giving the meat a softer and more marbled texture. Then there is the Aberdeen Angus steak from cattle only raised outdoors. This meat is full of flavour and very robust. We sampled New York Strip, Scottish Fillet and Rib Eye. As is the fashion these days, having requested our meat to be cooked medium, it arrived very pink. We did not mind but I could see those who are more squeamish might have needed it to have spent a little longer on the broiler. However, the quality of the meat was undeniable. You can choose from a selection of sources to accompany your steak. We sampled Horseradish, Bearnaise, Peppercorn and Red Wine. They each add something to the dish if you wish to expand upon the flavour. Sides come in many forms including the obligatory chips, sweet potato fries (my favourite), onion rings and some extremely creamy spinach. Portions are not small and you certainly won’t leave hungry! Another nice little touch is that the waiter brings over a selection of brightly coloured steak knives and asks you to choose one. Guys take note that your date will like this!
The dessert menu is pure indulgence after what has come before. With such a good red wine list, we were surprised there was no cheese on the menu to accompany what might be left in your bottle. However, we could not resist a portion of Key Lime Pie to share. This was unmistakably hand made by one of the pastry chefs and not bought in.
Prices range from £6 – £13 for starters and £19 – £34 for a steak. So for most of us, this is going to be more of a treat than an everyday occurrence. However, what a treat! If you want fantastic food, a lovely setting and fantastic service, then look no further.
22 Herstmere Road,
London E14 4E