There is an air of North America (in a good way) about The Parlour. It is bright, open and with an exposed ceiling revealing all the innards of the building. It isn’t trying too hard to be cosy, but they have tried a little bit and it works. Some of the large space is divided into booths – my favourite form of restaurant seating. There is something of the King Arthur about it – all are equal and at the same time conspiratorial, it was very comfortable as well.
The menu is quite big with various types of eating available. You could share a plate of Borough Market flatbread, which had attempting array of Chorizo and Piquillo Peppers, indulge in a round of Duck Club sandwiches or maybe just a light Prawn Lollipop salad. There is of course main menu food as well. It would be easy to forget that weekdays this is the place of high-powered brunches and lunches from the surrounding banking world of Canary Wharf – there is a serious wine list to prove the clientele’s provenance.
My son was very insistent about what he wanted to eat (when he had finished making a milkshake) and that was Smoked Salmon. At £4.95 this was a generous portion that arrived on toast with half a lemon wrapped in muslin – much to his amusement he squeezed every last drop onto the Salmon and pronounced it “much better than usual”. There were a host of other good options for children, a Half a Pint of Prawns, Chicken Satay, Shepherds Pie or even a Mini Seafood Board served on a cake stand with Crab Salad. These were all around the £5 mark.
Us grown-ups (by this stage left to our own devices as Junior had run off to hunt treasure) decided to try the Fondue of Cider, Stilton, Chive and Pulled Ham. I loved this dish, it had the flavour of cider with just the slightest hint of Stilton and the ham and chunky toast that accompanied was just right. Only thing was I felt it should also come with a spoon so you can snaffle every last drop of the fondue. We also tried a Garlic and Thyme Roasted Mushroom on Tapenade Toast. This was slightly overpowered by the Tapenade but the Mushroom was good and it was all silky and buttery.
The treasure hunt was getting closer and I could hear half a dozen or so voices increasing in volume as the various clues were discovered. This was about the only reminder that we had our son with us such was the good show put on by the two dedicated staff looking after those excited ‘voices’.
The 14oz Cote de Boeuf I ordered with Truffle Fries was superb, cooked just as I had asked and tender and tasty as possible. Also there is a choice of sauces – mine was Peppercorn which was made in house with stock – you could tell. I asked who provides the meat and was not surprised to hear that Allens of Mayfair were responsible. Good butchers supply good meat, full stop. The chips were indeed Truffled and had a bit of Parmesan and Rosemary thrown in, but were not as crisp as I would have liked, but the taste was there. There was also a Hand Beer Battered Fish, which was enormous and came on a board with Fries that sadly also lacked that vital crunch. We enjoyed Roast Baby Root Vegetables – they had crispy firmness and were full of flavour, which suited our mains.
The menu here is racked with cocktails as well as excellent wines, so if you were having an ‘occasion’ meal this would be a good place to start. The kids wouldn’t be left out either as they have their own mocktail menu including such delights as ‘Dora the Explorer’, ‘Optimus Prime’ and not forgetting good old ‘Spongebob Squarepants’.
We elected to hedge our bets with the next course – cheese from Neal’s Yard which was very good and a selection of three ‘Pudding Shots’. The most successful of these was Lemon Peel Crème Brulee, it gives you a glimpse of what might have been – perfect if you can’t make up your mind! A splendid Chocolate Brownie with Ice Cream was devoured by our little ‘explorer’ who only came back to our table because of the promise of pudding!
The Parlour is a thoroughly relaxing experience “not unlike being in Santa Monica” Said my wife, I agreed and added “except for the weather”. It has that laid back cool with casual but attentive staff, who are clearly dedicated to your pleasure. The food is stylish, not too ambitious and there is a flair for presentation.
I think Mary Howitt summed it up fairly well when she wrote ‘Will you walk into my parlour? Said the spider to the fly: ‘’Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy.’ I suggest you try you try it for yourselves.
40 Canada Park Square
London E14 5FW
Tel: 0845 468 0100