SquareMeal Review of
Bōkan at Novotel Canary Wharf
This three-floor, sky-high restaurant and bar is far sexier than its Novotel wrapper suggests. In contrast to the cheery primary colours of the hotel’s foyer, Bōkan is an understated, dimly-lit evening destination which takes its design cues from the Dockland’s rusty, industrial past. Floor 39 is home to a large alfresco drinking terrace and whisky-focussed bar, while below is another bar where you’ll find a lengthy cocktail list. Cheaper than many of London’s other high-rise bars, we found the seaweed-garnished Wharfinger cocktail (cognac, mastic liqueur, bitters and vermouth) to be just as well-made as its Central London rivals. The kitchen is the domain of French chef Aurelie Altemaire, who spent a decade at Joël Robuchon working her way up to head chef. Touches of her home country can be detected across the international menu, from oysters with chanterelle mushrooms and a whole crispy squid stuffed with ratatouille, to its predilection for cheese and charcuterie. We particularly enjoyed the beef tartare, dotted with colourful and peppy sauces and imbued with welcome crispness via shards of sesame brittle. Prices are fair considering the restaurant’s altitude, although the super-polite service was occasionally slow on our visit. The wine list is overly fussy in its organisation, but an obvious effort has been made to provide interest and quality – something we would apply to Bōkan as a whole.