SquareMeal Review of Bo¯kan 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, Bo¯kan 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 Bo¯kan as a whole.
About Bo¯kan at Novotel Canary Wharf
Situated within Canary Wharf’s modern 39-storey Novotel hotel, which is centrally located in the capital's financial district, Bokan is a drinking and dining destination with stellar views. This sky-high, dockside restaurant is a beacon for artisanal food and drink inspired by rich European cultural cuisines, making it a popular spot for business dinners and special occasion dining.
The restaurant is located on the 37th floor, meaning views across London are nothing short of spectacular. Bag a seat by one of the full-size windows and see how far you can see, or choose one of the squishy leather seats in the centre of the restaurant. Exposed brickwork and industrial columns are offset by warm lighting, plenty of wood and orange accents throughout, making it a warm and welcoming space in which to dine.
Executive Chef, Guillaume Gillan, brings his diverse experience and passion to Bokan. Gillan grew up in Nice in the South of France, and has worked at Alain Ducasse’s Le Grill in Monaco and Michelin-starred L’Atelier de Jöel Robuchon. Whether he’s cooking up brunch on a Saturday or weekday dinners, Gillan is committed to creating seasonal dishes made from the very highest-quality ingredients.
Starters come in the form of dishes such as smoked octopus with cocoa sauce, clementine and Winsdale cheese, and giant scallop with burnt leek, winter black truffle dressing and Hackney Culatello ham, while mains might be giant arancini with winter tomato ketchup, smoked mozzarella and rocket or wild partridge with crapaudine beetroot, pomegranate sauce and scots pine.
In addition to its award-winning restaurant, the hotel is home to a bar on the 38th floor and a roof terrace on the 39th floor, so guests can relax in one of the two before or after dining. The hotel’s close proximity to Canary Wharf underground station is another plus.