As the only place in London where I feel like a tourist in my own city, Canary Wharf never fails to overwhelm me with its sleek skyscrapers, glass and steel buildings. My recent visit was no exception, immediately feeling like a sore thumb in my brightly coloured number amongst the crowds of black suits congregated outside the areas bars and restaurants for after work drinks. Being sent to scout out The Parlour restaurant bar in Canada Square, I was expecting a somewhat pretentious, overly sleek and styled establishment but was pleasantly surprised from the moment I snaked inside through the heaving crowds clustered around heaters on the venue's terrace.
Ambience and Décor
The Parlour is the second venue opened by the Drake & Morgen group. The bar, kitchen and lounge describes itself as an all-day venue with focus on quality- only using the best local produce. With this in mind I was somewhat fazed by the unexpected loud up-tempo music and noisy punters which were occupying the majority of the venue. Nevertheless being immediately approached by a waitress at the door, we were whisked into the restaurant area, which although not separate from the bar was thankfully a lot quieter. Seating arrangements ranged from counter dining to high tables with bar stools as well as normal tables. Mixing industrial urban exposed concrete with rustic provincial décor, the venue hits the nail on the head in terms of creating a sleek yet welcoming ambience.
Given the size difference of the dining area compared to the main bar, the venue has no problem in hosting large crowds without it feeling crowded, furthermore the all glass faÃ§ade and high ceilings ensure a comfortable atmosphere throughout; this said the bar area is mainly a stand up affair although high top tables are scattered throughout.
The The Parlour main bar has its doors open all week round
Clientele and atmosphere
The clientele at the Parlour was entirely after work suits, however at no point does the atmosphere feel stuffy. The up tempo music as well as modern surroundings draw in a crowd who isnt afraid to loosen its tie and unbutton a few shirt buttons. From the look of things, many were simply there to enjoy an after work drink, however the dining area proved a perfect setting for an informal meeting or date.
Service wise, the staff is readily available to ensure a welcoming and efficient service. Having visited a number of restaurant bars in my time I can honestly say the service was one of the best. Perhaps it is due to the type of more demanding clientele who frequent this place, or simply a sign of a work force who enjoy what they are doing; the staff serving us on our visit were definitely very much on the ball.
Food and Drinks
Having babysat us through the menu, our waitress helped us decide between the numerous delicious choices available. The menu aims to satisfy any appetite and boasts an up market twist on British classics. Diners can choose from a range of sharing boards and platters, sandwiches such as Grilled London Sausage butty, salads and hearty mains such as crab and crayfish linguini. For those looking after their waistline there are a number of skinny menu options which go as far as a carb-free beef burger- a first in my eyes.
Ordering with our stomachs rather then our heads, we each chose a Smoked mackerel arancini amuse bouche (£2.50) followed by an Antipasto Verdi sharing board(£9.95) which we shared in two. Both choices were delectable as starters and as much as we wanted to throw ourselves into finishing every little piece we had a feeling there was better dishes yet to come.The kitchendid not disappoint: I chose the mussels, clams and shrimps bouillabaisse with grilled cheese bread (£9.95), whilst my companion opted for the Baked Salmon with creamed leaks special (£14.95) dishes excelled in both presentation and taste.
The Parlour interior- Make a reservation through designmynight
Although portion sizes are generous, given the quality of the food, every mouthful is a pleasure, so there was still a bit of space for dessert- and what a treat it was! The Pudding shot selection (£7.50) is a must for any sweet lovers, three different mini desserts perfectly portioned to share and definitely hitting the spot, our favorite was by far the crème brulee which was much raved about by our waitress.
Drinks wise, the wine list stretched as far as the food menu and was equally impressive. Grouped according to taste, the around the world selection, is available by the glass as well as the bottle ranging from a happily affordable £3.75 to £8.85. For those wishing to have a taste of the finer things in life, there is also a separate fine wines menu by the bottle. Being intrigued by the skinny wine option and possibly to balance the copious amount of food ordered, I opted for a glass of New Zealand Bella Sauvignon blanc which went down a treat!
The cocktail menu turns The Parlour into an attractive drinking destination, with punch bowl options available for a few of their cocktails; again aiming to cater for any drinking taste and wallet size. We couldnt leave without testing the waters, therefore per recommendation, opted for the dessert cocktail. A nice touch to the end of our evening came in the form of the trolley bar, which was pushed next to our table and used to prepare our chosen cocktails.
The Parlour's mobile cocktail trolley
The Parlour is a breath of fresh air and a welcome addition to the area delivering the perfect city dining experience or after work catch up. Whilst we might not have normally chosen to step into corporate territory, the bar restaurant is definitely one to remember when you next find yourself in the area.
Budget: Happily Affordable
Pre-designed: after work drinks , sip fine wine, business meeting,