JC: I look down on them because I am upper class.
RB: I look up to him because he is upper class but look down on him because he is lower class. I am middle class.
RC: I know my place.
And so it was here in London. For almost every reason, the West End looked down on The City, The City looked down on Canary Wharf but looked up to the West End, and Canary Wharf? Well, it knew its place.
Food wise, not much really happened at Canary Wharf in the early years. Marco Pierre White's MPW was a flash in the pan and there was a Burger King above Tesco. More places have now opened, mostly chains, but Canary Wharf has always struggled to present fine dining. Plateau (located above Waitrose) has been open a few years now but with Allan Pickett having been appointed Head Chef a year or so back, it is making a push to be the first real fine dining option available in Canary Wharf; we went to investigate.
So how did it do at today's lunch tasting? Pretty good actually. We had some great plates and some real surprises too such as an assiette of rabbit. And while Plateau is part of the D&D group that some foodies love to hate, near on Michelin starred cooking now coming out of the kitchen at Coq d'Argent has shown that you have to take each D&D restaurant on its own merits, not lump them together as a group. It's laudable too that D&D is encouraging a push upward in quality rather than moving down into the mass market and as Chef Pickett drives further change, we'd expect Plateau to both improve more and get increasing recognition as a fine dining option in Canary Wharf.
The restaurant itself is an interesting space, and situated on the top floor of a newish building, benefits from its modernity. Accordingly, not only is the external 'wall' composed entirely of glass, but the glass extends over the roof too giving remarkable amounts of natural light, more so than any other restaurant we can think of. It gives the place an airy feel on even a half decent spring day and the internal restaurant design feels equally fresh. The view too is first class if you like urban landscapes for you're located in the heart of Canary Wharf's still growing skyline.
But it's the food that's important and the first dish of line caught mackerel carpaccio, lime, radish, apple, avocado puree and black olive crumb is a fantastic start. It's fresh, it's flavourful, it's considered. It looks the real deal on the plate and just the small addition of the cubes of crisp apple give the dish both a visual dimensional quality and provides additional textures in the mouth. It's a nice touch and encourages us for the rest of the meal ahead.
Parsley risotto, sauté of snails, morels and trompette mushrooms is similarly excellent, absolutely delicious and perfectly done. Nage of sea scallops, broad beans, vermouth and chive veloute, soft herbs makes it three out of three with the scallop flavours so much more evident than the disappointing scallop dish from Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester.
Corn fed chicken with baby leeks and truffle served with truffled macaroni provided a succulent portion of chicken though a touch under seasoned denying it its full potential. The assiette of rabbit was a real surprise containing the kidney (cooked medium rare), the rack, slow cooked loin and crispy belly served with aubergine caviar, confit of tomatoes, courgettes and black olive crumb. In a restaurant whose customer base draws heavily from the surrounding offices, we totally applaud Plateau taking this risk to put really interesting food on the menu.
The duck (with pan fried foie gras, duck confit and braised chicory) was let down mostly by the cutlery as a knife with little by way of a cutting edge struggled with the duck breast, but it was nice, especially the silky foie gras. The accompanying butter laden pot of asparagus and peas was also brimming with flavour.
No one goes to Canary Wharf without a good reason, even the G20 protesters can't be bothered to travel that far East to bring down global capitalism, so short of an E14 restaurant appearing in the San Pellegrino list, the Wharf is unlikely to become a food destination in its own right. But if you are part of the growing residential population in the area, the swell of office workers or you're just required to visit the place for meetings, don't think there's nowhere to eat in 'the Wharf', rather, give Plateau a go. It is in our view, even right now, the best food in the Canary Wharf area and will almost certainly improve further in time.
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Related links: Coq d'Argent