Bar and Kitchen
Albert Basin Way
Tel: 020 7476 8689
The Reach is a phoenix from the ashes of a hotel. Not literally, but the Gallion’s Hotel is the name of a listed building that was once a hotel. Nowadays the upper floor of this splendid building is owned and occupied by a construction firm. A prerequisite of ownership under its listed status is that the ground floor had to be a restaurant and the basement a gym (as it once was back in its original form). So we have a rather peculiar set up that has afforded the riverside residents of E16 a brand new eatery in a lovely old building.
The Reach opened in December 2013 so is very much in its infancy. There are a few teething problems but much to be hopeful about as there is a deft hand at work in the kitchen. The staff are young, keen and filling their roles well. James the manager is delighted they had such a busy Christmas and New Year although he said, “I could have done with a slower start to be honest”.
On our visit, a wet, windy midweek night the place was half full. As this place is tucked out of the way I was impressed. Maybe the reason is it does seem like a pub, you can sit at the bar and drink if you wish or sit at one of the stripped wooden tables and have a bite to eat. It is a very casual and relaxed space with the quirks of an old building I’m sure you will find your own favourite spot in no time.
M chose (despite the inclement weather) a beef tomato buffalo Mozzarella and homemade pesto Genovese. It was large, pretty and tasted fresh and summery. This had been made with care, the tomato being sliced horizontally and intercut with the Mozzarella. A good start we thought. My first course was a little cheat I chose a salad that would normally be a main, teriyaki beef Thai salad. This had a real kick to it; the warm beef was on skewers like satay and the salad full of interesting beans and vegetable spaghetti. I enjoyed it.
The Reach has a policy of buying local and buying fresh they don’t use anything frozen (with the exception of their ice cream) and endevour to buy from quality sources such as Smithfield’s Market for meat, Billingsgate for fish and New Covent Garden for vegetables. This is laudable and I hope others follow their example in London.
Our mains were quite different. M wanted to order lamb cutlets, which is a menu staple (they do have daily specials as well) but we were told that alternate weeks they have lamb chops. This arrived with an excellent mash potato and mixed fried vegetables. A hearty meal with good quality meat well cooked with a lovely rosemary juice. Mine was a burger (I have to have something simple once in a while)! You can tell a lot about the chef from a homemade burger. This one was very tasty, juicy and great but could have been bigger. The focaccia bread and the grilled onions it had all assisted it perfectly. It came with chips and salad but as a main dish I would have enjoyed a bigger burger.
The prices are keen here, starters are between £4.50 and £7.00 and the mains hover over the £10 mark. Our desserts were of the homely hearty stable. My lemon meringue pie served in a glass with pretty piped meringue was good, very tangy almost tart. M enjoyed her classic apple and rhubarb crumble with a little pot of custard on the side. Again a tart filling topped by a fantastic crunchy crumble. It is worth having this dish just for the crumble, it seemed to have a high butter content that gave it the crunch (oh and a lot of sugar)!
Another thing they are getting right is wine. I had a very good bottle of Vina Edmara, Pinot Noir Central Valley, Chile, which was served at the right temperature and at £16 a real bargain. James and his team are doing all the right things here with the food and ambience. As their machine becomes slicker through experience I feel they will shine and become one of those outposts that people make a special journey to. It has all the right ingredients (fresh of course) to succeed and I hope it does. We need more honest straightforward places like The Reach.