For better or for worse, Canary Wharf is an area that sits apart from the rest of London. Laden with lofting skyscrapers that sit in strict rows, its an architectural anomaly in a city that’s winding streets and historic buildings spill out drunkenly across it boroughs, making it more a palimpsest than planned urban environment. The Isle of Dogs is distinct topographically, architecturally, demographically, economically, and even has its own police force. However its critics frequently cite its lack of historicity, and its disconnect with the rest of London amongst its flaws.
Enter Bōkan, a new opening whose 38th story and near 360 degree views afford a meshing of the financial district and London, with a menu, name and styling that harken back to the Docklands that was. With lashings of gin, dim vintage lighting, wood and iron machinery, on the menu and the restaurant floor, there’s more than just a little nod to steam punk going on here and watching the sun set over a misty London skyline dotted with aircraft warning lights certainly does feel dramatic.
In concert with this historical theme head chef Aurelie Altemaire has designed a menu based around European classics with a few twists. We particularly enjoyed the Aberdeen Angus Beef Tartare with Sesame Crisp and Wasabi Mayo, as well the Squid Ratatouille with Spicy Oatmeal Dust and Saffron Aioli for our starters, both of which proved delicately balanced and
Swapping surf and turf between ourselves we followed on with Whole Lobster with Green Mango Salad and Orange & Jasmine Sauce, and the Angus 28 Day-Aged Bone-In Angus Fillet Steak, with both dishes proving faultlessly tender, rich and satisfying. During all of which the wine selection made by our waiter was absolutely excellent, with several bottles ending up in our vivino App for later research.
Bokan should stick out like a sore thumb, but in its own way as a hermetically sealed vantage point upon the financial district, it works. Poised against its backdrop, a smaller bubble of anachronism reflecting a larger one, there’s something about Bokan that’s self-aware, artful, and subtly charming. In fact the only thing that struck us as genuinely out of place was the price point, which seemed ludicrously cheap given the views, the quality of the fare, and the location. Highly recommended.
Bōkan – 37th, 38th & 39th Floor
Novotel Canary Wharf
40 Marsh Wall
London E14 9TP