First, Boisdale offers three venues in London: Belgravia, Bishopsgate and Canary Wharf. The fact that Bishopsgate is 'The City' and Canary Wharf is 'the new City' suggests in part a focussed approach to the expansion of this group (as it is rapidly becoming) and might hint too at their target market.
Second, there's a Scottish thematic to the food and the venue with a preponderance of tartan in both decor and staff dress should you forget. There's Scotch whisky too. In fact, BCW has a 12 metre long bar stocking over 1,000 malt whiskies which has been described as the most extensive collection of Scotch whisky in the world (we describe it as heaven).
Third, as already noted, it's a lot more than a restaurant. Is it even principally a restaurant? BCW, like the other two Boisdales, offers live jazz, has a purpose built stage and in its musical offering (from our admittedly limited knowledge of jazz) is really quite serious so appealing to die hard jazz fans and not just the after work crowd who merely want some background music as they discuss the day's market movements. Nor does it stop there, there's a 16 square metre walk in humidor and cigar terrace on which to enjoy them. Oh, and there's a Caviar and Oyster bar too.
Everything up till now will also hint at another aspect of BCW: scale. The outside terrace, looking over Cabot Square, seats 42 guests, and food as well as cigars can be enjoyed there. We're told by a member of staff that the establishment can accommodate in total up to 400 seated guests. It's situated over two floors and clearly a lot of money has been spent here to make it what it is, though we're also told that in the latter half of the week, if you haven't got a booking, you wont be getting a table, that's how popular it has already become.
Our visit there took place at a time that was guaranteed to offer a challenge to any venue: three pm on a Monday afternoon. On arrival, our 'greeter' at the door looked at best bored and at worst irritated as if we were intruding upon her break time. We then discovered that the principal menus are served only up till three pm, though on their extensive and otherwise quite informative website, this isn't clear (only on the Caviar & Oyster Bar menu click through does it reveal certain dishes not available after 3pm). We decide to stay and select from the bar and seafood menu. Our choices then are hamburgers (a choice of five), sandwiches, shellfish and small plates, enough for us to get by.
We opted for a Platter de fruits de mer as well as a Classic burger to share with a side of chips. After our initial disappointing interaction with service, our waiter started to recover ground and made a decent job looking after us. We have to say though, staff, with the usual myriad of accents found in London's service community, seemed incongruous and almost uncomfortable in their austere tartan outfits, and in our time there, a Scottish accent is perhaps the only one we didn't hear. Anyway, seated at a table for two outside, our waiter suggested the table might not be big enough for our fruits der mer; intriguing.
We moved onto a vacant table for four and when the platter arrived, he wasn't kidding, it was simply enormous. For anything that BCW had got wrong thus far, they instantly redeemed themselves. This was certainly the real deal.
The burger meanwhile was okay with a nice char but sadly overcooked despite it being offered to us at the time of ordering (and readily accepted) as medium rare. Chips were pretty good, cooked just right, nice crunch and all eaten.
Desserts were traditional old school with a liquor theme when possible so a bread and butter pudding came with 'tipsy Glenfiddich 15 year old sultanas' while a Baked bourbon vanilla cheesecake was also on offer. We opted for sticky toffee pudding which was okay but the sponge pud itself was a little too dense for it to work effectively at the end of a big meal.
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