It’s Friday evening, amid the mass office exodus of Canary Wharf, and it’s pouring with rain. While West India Quay and Crossrail Place are my go-to spots in this part of town for their proliferation of new restaurants such as Indian Chai Ki and Japanese Ippudo, on this occasion I turn instead towards the South Dock and Bōkan.
Bōkan, which opened in 2017, is a bar and modern European restaurant set across the top three floors of the Novotel building, offering striking views from the Shard to the Gherkin through its floor-to-ceiling windows. While there’s no shortage of London skyscraper bars, Bōkan reached new heights earlier this year with the appointment of twentysomething French chef Guillaume Gillan (formerly at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon).
The excellent cocktail menu draws inspiration from the rich history of the surroundings in drinks such as the Dark Whale (£11), with Kraken Spice rum, Amaro d’Angostura, lime, mint and ginger beer. Downstairs for dinner, we opt for the five-course Chef’s Tasting Menu (£70; £45 supplement for wine pairings), which changes every month. I order a glass of the 2017 La Marimorena Albariño Rías Baixas (£10.50), which pairs well with the first three dishes.
We start with the scallop ceviche – a light and successful melange of asparagus coulis, hazelnut granita and lemon balm – followed by a plate of soft-boiled egg, purple potato gaufrette, wild garlic and olive-oil foam. It’s a two-bite affair, but my favourite dish of the evening nonetheless. The second-best dish is the seared hake with wakame sauce, spelt risotto, green asparagus and Oscietra caviar – the mild and slightly sweet fish working incredibly well with the umami flavouring. I find the next course – beef short rib with bone-marrow butter and potato mash – overly rich, but the meal ends on a (sugar) high: a decadent chocolate dessert with pecans, dulce de leche, salted toffee ice cream and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Giulia Mulè is a food and travel writer based in London who is passionate about sharing food photography on her Instagram feed (@mondomulia) and blog Mondomulia (mondomulia.com). Originally from Rome, Mulè has spent more than a decade living in London and travelling the world. In her spare time, she organises brunch meet-ups with @IGBrunchClub and fundraising events with @CreatingForGood – a collective of Instagrammers who share their creative skills to raise money for selected charities.