Whether you’re in Docklands for business or pleasure, there are plenty of restaurant options to tempt you to linger – and they’re not all aimed at expense accounts. This part of London comes into its own during the summer months: the best venues boast waterside tables, and the views of the river and docks – plus London landmarks such as the O2 across the water – are stunning in the sunshine.
Chai Ki 1 Crossrail Place, E14 5AR
Kickstart your working day at this funky sibling to Roti Chai, which serves subtly spiced Indian soul food in a striking industrial space. Breakfast includes subcontinental translations of Brit staples, such as the bacon-and-egg roll with tamarind ketchup, plus more exotic creations such as the ‘full nashta’ – a fry-up of chapli sausage patties, curried scrambled eggs, spiced potato hash, masala beans and more.
The Narrow 44 Narrow Street, E14 8DP
Gordon Ramsay’s waterside gastropub sits right on the curve where the Thames flows into Limehouse Basin, giving almost wraparound watery views from its popular terrace; inside, the river views are best enjoyed from the conservatory dining room. Classic gastro grub includes smooth-as-silk chicken liver parfait, a juicy bone marrow-laced gourmet burger, and crowd-pleasing puds such as brownies with ice cream.
Royal China 30 Westferry Circus, E14 8RR
A dim-sum lunch on this handsome waterside terrace is a Docklands must-do in summer. The large alfresco area boasts widely spaced tables that offer views of a wide sweep of the river and are served swiftly by attentive staff. Soak up the atmosphere while you share exemplary steamed pork-and-radish dumplings, stuffed beancurd rolls, honey-roast pork puffs and much more.
Iberica Canary Wharf 12 Cabot Square, E14 5NY
With its prime Cabot Square location, raucous ambience and excellent all-Spanish wine list, Iberica is a classic after-work destination for City types – but one with hidden virtues. The high-ceilinged space has mezzanines for quieter meets, Michelin-starred Nacho Manzano fills his menu with original and vividly flavoured dishes, and the separate shaded terrace is inspired by the pavement dining culture of Spain’s big cities.
Boisdale Canary Wharf Cabot Place West, E14 4QT
If you sometimes find City dining a tad sterile, then head to this invitingly old-school, Scottish-themed alternative, with its red walls, candelabras, tartan chairs and live music. It’s lovely rain or shine: in winter, hunker down and enjoy the Jools Holland-curated jazz with one of the bar’s 900 single malts; in summer, head to the smart terrace for an alfresco cigar.
Big Easy Canary Wharf Upper Level 1, Crossrail Place, Canary Wharf, E14 5AR
Big Easy takes its food seriously so you don’t have to: while the chefs cook the goods in US-built smokers or in their huge pit room, you get to don a bib, order a booze-primed slushie and nod along to the live blues. Happy hour cocktails for £4, a £10 express lunch, and £20 lobster deals mean you don’t have to spend big here. Check out the terrace in summer.
Ippudo Canary Wharf 1 Crossrail Place, Canary Wharf, E14 5AR
You can fill your boots at this stylish international ramen chain and still come out the other side with change from a £20 note. Bowls of silky ramen start at £10.50 and are large enough to warrant a lie down afterwards; there are filled hirata buns for £4 a pop; and happy-hour Kirin costs £3 a bottle – the set-lunch offer is also a bargain.
Worth paying a bit more for
Plateau 4th Floor, Canada Place, E14 5ER
This sleek, light-filled, glass-and-steel dining room makes the most of its City setting with fourth-floor views of the neighbouring skyscrapers from its restaurant, grill, bar and chic terrace. The restaurant is the place to impress: French-leaning Modern European menus such as the beef fillet with veal sweetbreads, girolles mushrooms and spinach purée are so artistically presented they’re almost too pretty to eat.
Goodman Canary Wharf 3 South Quay, Discovery Dock East, E14 9RU
For the ultimate treat, or a knock-em-sideways client deal-clincher, head to this Russian-owned steak restaurant, where the phenomenal cuts – including prime Nebraskan USDA, Suffolk Wagyu, Australian Angus or Scottish Hereford – are expertly dry-aged on site, then cooked on the Josper grill, and served in the convivial dining room’s comfortable, clubby environs. Prepare yourself – and your wallet – for one of the best steak dinners London has to offer.
The Gun 27 Coldharbour, E14 9NS
The huge terrace of this historic pub is an unbeatable alfresco spot in Docklands. Dine in the covered area if the heavens open; on hot days, follow the crowds to the colourful, turfed gin garden where striped deckchairs, giant Jenga and Connect 4 await, fuelled by G&Ts from the dedicated bar. The tasteful white-and-wood dining room also offers stunning waterside views.
Amerigo Vespucci 25 Cabot Square, E14 4QA
This traditional Docklands Italian has been going strong for more than 30 years thanks to its unapologetic mix of indulgent trattoria classics and flamboyantly friendly service. Another draw, especially in summer, is its waterside terrace overlooking bustling North Dock: the curved rows of smartly dressed tables are punctuated with olive trees, the open bar adds atmosphere, and there’s a popular covered chill-out area, too.
Bokan at Novotel Canary Wharf Novotel Canary Wharf, 40 Marsh Wall, E14 9TP
If you were parachuted into this venue, you wouldn’t realise it was a Novotel hotel bar, because such a lot of care has been lavished on its design. Head to the alfresco drinking terrace on floor 39 if you’re fond of whisky; on the floor below, cocktails such as the well-made Wharfinger (cognac, mastic liqueur, bitters and vermouth) prove all too easy to enjoy…
Toddy Shop Bar 1 Crossrail Place, E14 5AR
Chai Ki’s stylish drinking den – a Keralan import reimagined for a City crowd – offers subcontinental sips and street food in a post-industrial setting. It’s a cracker of a spot for an after-hours tipple: try the house toddy (Ceylon Arrack, pineapple, and milky, spiced masala-chai tea), or mojitos and bellinis easternised with Indian infusions, alongside flavour-bomb nibbles such as curry, cane sugar- and cumin-fried calamari.
Roka Canary Wharf 4 Park Pavilion, 40 Canada Square, E14 5FW
Roka is always busy, but when the suits leave the City, weekend brunch ushers in a more relaxed vibe. Sit in the glam dining room, or snap up a spot on the terrace in fine weather. Start with bellinis or passionfruit iced tea, then work your way through the likes of tiger-prawn tempura, chilli-and-lemon-spiked roast baby chicken, and the lavish dessert platter (£49pp including wine).
For more Docklands inspiration, check out our list of the best restaurants in Docklands.
This article was published 13 July 2017