London is the best city in the world. It is, so don’t tell me otherwise. There is history in abundance, an eclectic mix of people and thriving creative industries – every day, I’m excited to see what new opportunities this extraordinary place has to offer.
This week, my dining opportunity was to visit the Butlers Wharf Chop House, whose new menu aims to deliver ‘really good British food’, under the stewardship of new head-chef Gemma Hyjek.
Knowing that the focus would be on English heritage and tradition, I thought that there could be no-one better to bring along than a Londoner born and bred, someone who – being thirty years my senior – has a heritage all of his own!
Butlers Wharf itself (although modernised to within an inch of its life) still has echoes of its much less savoury Dickensian past. Once home to the very dregs of impoverished society, it’s now dotted with restaurants and bars, and boasts incredible views of the City and the Tower of London. It seems only fitting to feast on historic English dishes when so many national landmarks are on display.
We started with a bottle of fragrant Marlborough sauvignon blanc and very well cooked scallops, black pudding and fennel; there was also a slightly more exotic dish of octopus, orange and melon. This was so fresh and tasty, I have already recreated it for myself.
If heritage is what you want then it probably doesn’t come much more traditional than steak and kidney pudding with gravy – not the most sophisticated thing to look at, but satisfying none the less. Whilst our second main course of baked Cornish hake was perhaps more refined, meanwhile, it was just as rich, with butter, salty samphire, cockles and mussels dominating the palette.
Cambridge burnt cream with shortbread and Pimms sorbet was a crème brulee by any other name. It was delicious and luxurious, but I felt the sorbet was a bad accompaniment, being too insipid and unnecessary next to the other ingredients. The white chocolate tart was very sweet, as one would expect, but this time it was very well matched with a dark bitter chocolate ice cream.
The Butlers Wharf Chop House successfully devotes itself to British food – the dishes aren’t fussy, the service is punctual and the views are spectacular. The evening as a whole reminded me how much I love London – it’s the best city in the world. It is, so don’t tell me otherwise.
Butlers Wharf Chop House
36e Shad Thames