I used to eat a lot in Canary Wharf. As a pre-teen, my father would force me twice yearly to do work experience with a distant relative at BNY Mellon, despite my young anti-establishment affectations.
Every lunchtime, Uncle Humphrey would usher me out of his office with a five pound note and a pat on the head, a fairly difficult act for him as he topped out at 5 foot 3 and I was actually pretty well developed for a twelve-year-old.
Humphrey himself would indulge in a ‘liquid lunch’, a meal that at the time I assumed meant Covent Garden soup and Innocent smoothies, but which I now understand was something entirely different (miso and Rubicon). Back then, my budget could only furnish me with a daily Pret-a-Manger, but that allegiance came to a swift end when my schoolboy French was mistaken for a sexual advance towards a branch manager.
The Parlour, another venture in the popular Drake and Morgan chain, was my first outing in Canary Wharf since those salad days. I started with the Little London meatballs, a hearty and comforting dish with the sort of pleasing cheesecurd and braised meat combination that I always think would be excellent at three in the morning when you’ve gone home alone again but which you can’t for love-nor-money get the guys at McDonald’s to whip up for you. I asked for a bit of bread to soak up the sauce, and a waiter ceremoniously carted over a vast, showy bread vessel that made me feel a bit like I’d ordered the most expensive bread-sharer on the menu in the VIP section of a bread themed nightclub in an effort to impress some visiting Japanese bread makers.
The Wagyu beef burger that my dining companion chose from the grill was lovely. So lovely in fact, that I was cursing myself for not having ordered it myself, and the childish jealousy this inspired in me was one of the many reasons that we argued for the entirety of the bus ride home, much to the distress of a Filipino couple on the top deck. The winterberry crumble was a nice way to finish things off, the fruit tart enough to keep us on our toes and the vanilla ice cream just what the doctor ordered (if the doctor was fairly relaxed about saturated fats.)
By far the biggest disappointment of the evening was the Rib Eye steak. It should be an easy 3 points for this place, catering as it does for red-blooded, meatheaded bankers. As it happens, it was lifeless, flabby and a touch too expensive. ’Flabby and expensive’, if you’re interested, is precisely how the less friendly members of my family describe Uncle Humphrey’s current wife. To be fair, every time I’ve visited them recently she’s been flopping heavily around in a flowerbed, her skin the colour of a mahogany side table and her flanks spilling unashamedly over a chintz bikini. As for the expensive bit, she once bought an indoor plant that cost over a thousand pounds. And that was in the nineties, so Lord knows what it would have cost in the current climate.
The Parlour review by Joe Bullmore