My only memory of a trip to Canada Water involves being unwillingly dragged by my boyfriend around a 4200 square metre sports retailer to look at ski gear. Heading back there for a meal at Leadbelly’s, a brand spanking new restaurant bar, Canada Water seemingly had more to offer.
Leadbelly’s is the new venue from The Rotherhithe Pub Company, a group which provides independent, neighbourhood bars for lucky locals. Stepping out of the tube station, we were greeted by the orange glow of the venue welcoming us in from the chilly, mid-December evening. The venue was an interior designer’s dream. It was bright, but not garish, quirky but not tacky, and trendy, without looking like it’s had the same facelift as every other venue in east London. Yes, it had the painted brickwork, incandescent lightbulbs and metal work, but felt totally cool and unique throughout.
The Food and Drink
Whilst mulling over the menu, we decided to try one of the prospective house cocktails which still hadn’t been made official yet. I did get a little nervous as I am super fussy with cocktails, but like a Christmas miracle, out came a Gin Sour (a firm favourite of mine), and it was one of the best I’ve tried – fruity, tangy and pert with a hint of lemongrass. I’m one of those naughty Londoners who eats out way more than their belly and wallet allows, which means I see menus all the time. Leadbelly’s menu caught me completely off guard - it was current, exciting and had foods I hadn’t heard of before - I was completely unsure of what to order. What made this menu even better that is it was all super affordable. The most expensive starter being £7.95, and most expensive main being £18.95.
To start, I chose the Bubble Coated Chicken with Cauliflower Puree, Charred Cauliflower, Truffle & Coriander Shoots. The chicken was flavoursome, whilst the cauliflower brought a range of textures to the plate, a great sidekick to the bubble coated chicken; a succulent ball of thigh meat, deep-fried in the lightest of batters. The other starter of Pear, Quince and Endive with Quinoa, Caramelized Walnuts and Orange trumped any Waldorf salad your Auntie’s ever palmed off on you on Boxing Day. The different elements were all perfectly sized, creating mouthfuls of different flavours with each bite.
Knowing I was in for a turkey overload in a few days’ time, I opted for the steak main at £18.95. The prime Sirloin cut was accompanied with Samphire, Parmesan & Rocket Salad, Skinny Fries, Béarnaise Sauce, Grilled Tomato and a Tempura Onion Ring. The steak was a perfectly cooked medium rare, and complimented the delicious sides. I don’t think I can ever have a rocket salad without parmesan now, thanks for that, Leadbelly’s. The other main of Cod en Papillote with Parsley, Capers and Mussels, Potato Puree, Tempura scraps and Cooking Liquor (£15.85), was everything you wanted from a fish dish. The cod was perfectly cooked, flaking each time you put your fork into it. The capers and mussels, added another layer of flavour and tempura scraps, well, need I say more?
We are not dessert people, but the pudding fairies drew us to the Pistachio and Olive Oil Sponge, Pineapple and Anise Chutney, Pistachio Ice Cream and Pineapple Crisp (£6.95). It was the dreamiest dessert ever, and the pistachio and pineapple are as good a duo as Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. The sponge was light, the ice cream smooth and all the extras were spot on. This was a tough one to share so make sure to order two.
As it was the Wednesday before Christmas, the venue was busy with people having drinks at the bar. Most of the tables were taken up with friends catching up, couples on dates and co-workers starting their Christmas festivities early. Despite the rush, the staff were friendly and attentive, answering any questions you had about the menu and genuinely looking happy to be there.
Leadbelly’s is welcoming, laid back and ticks a lot of boxes. With it’s friendly staff and delicious, affordable and exciting food, this place is an absolute winner. Canada Water was clearly crying out for a place like this and I’m sure the local residents and workers couldn’t have asked for more. If I ever get dragged back to the sports store, at least I know where I get to go afterwards.