Power to the Project – Wapping Food review

November 20, 2010

As usual, I’ve eaten out too much this last few months (if such a thing were possible, I’m not personally sure it is – rather like there being too much cheese. Can’t get my head around it) which is why, conversely, I haven’t blogged much. Making excuses about being too busy is much easier than sitting down and judging stuff. But now I find myself in, on a Saturday evening, and blogging is more fun than cleaning, so I’m going to bite the bullet and try to post on a few places, all in London, which have made me more or less happy in the last month or so, starting with:

Wapping Food (at the Wapping Project), Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, Wapping Wall, London E1W 3SG

Just down the road (albeit quite a long road) from my office, I’m only really now beginning to appreciate the WP, which is housed in the main hall of the old Wapping Hydraulic Power Station. This is a spectacular building, with huge windows along one side and mysterious, heavy machinery ranged down the other, covered in tempting dials. I brought my dear old friend JS here because he lives in Leicester and though he lived in London for years, I knew that he wouldn’t have been (why would you, it’s in Wapping) or have seen anything like it. It’s a really brilliant place to bring people who like cool things or whom you want to impress, especially as you can now get there on the Overground. It’s astonishingly pleasantly lit for such a massive room, all sparkly bits, candles and uplighting but then it is also (actually mostly) an art gallery, so the owner, Jules, has a pretty good eye. They’ve done some amazing projects here including Richard Wilson’s Butterfly. Remember to go out of both the doors at the back of the dining hall and have a look at the exhibition space (down) and the roof (up).

We had a really superb dinner – grilled squid and fish stew to start, both very simple but really fantastic; proper taste explosion sort of stuff. We both plumped for venison, which was unctuous and wonderful and elicited ‘wow’s from both of us. I can’t help thinking that it’s a tiny bit overpriced (main course venison was £19.50, which I think is a bit steep, though I’ve looked back on the website since and venison pie, which isn’t quite the same thing, is about 17 quid which somehow I think is more reasonable). The staff are very formal, but very sweet and the presentation of the food is faultless, really pleasing. I suppose in the end that’s the point; fine dining with fine service and really bloody nice glassware, in a spot you wouldn’t expect it.

One word of warning however: it has quite an annoying website. If you want the phone number, DON’T CLICK ANYTHING. It’s at the end of the scrolling text along the bottom of the home page. Or, it’s here: 020 7680 2080. If you want to eat after about 8.30pm you’ll probably need to call and book, because all the people who live in the amazing warehouse flats looking out on to the river come home from their jobs in the City, and it’s more fun eating here than firing up the unused Neff oven which probably still has the instruction manual sitting disconsolately under the grill.

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