In the past few months we have been fortunate enough to dine at some of the most well recognised and critically acclaimed restaurants in not only London, but the world. From kitchens commanded by celebrity chefs to those situated at the tops of the worlds tallest buildings, v-bulgaria have done it all. When we were sent an invitation to a recently opened restaurant just outside London’s Canary Wharf financial district, we were slightly perplexed as the directions we were sent guided across a river. We thought we had seen it all before, we were wrong.
The Columbia Restaurant is part of the Hilton’s Double Tree Docklands location. To reach the venue the hotel has a special ferry to cross the River Thames from Canary Wharf, a truly memorable experience and a rather unique touch, the small ferry even has copies of the menu on its walls.
Disembark, walk up the gangway and you enter the very modern Double Tree lobby, through one final walkway and you will enter the laid back atmosphere of the bar. The light is warm and soft, the harsh white lights of the Canary Wharf skyscrapers diffuses across the river and seeps in through the large windows that frame the stunning view. We were instantly drawn to the stairwell leading to the riverside terrace. The small ferry that we had been on minutes ago bobbed over the strong currents as it headed back toward to the congestion and buzz of the Business District.
Before long stomachs rumbled and we headed back into the warmth of the bar and into the sizable restaurant, the vast space allowing for an airy and spacious feel, something that is hard to come by in London City restaurants.
The airy feel continued with the kitchen, there are no walls, doors or even panes of glass, the kitchen is open in every sense of the word. As they say in theater, the chefs break the fourth wall being close enough to interact and welcome diners. It is strangely satisfying being able to see, hear and smell your meal being prepped and constructed just feet away from you.
The modern English menu at Columbia is one that caters well to a number of tastes. There is a comprehensive range of vegetarian, poultry, fish and red meat dishes. From steaks to burgers and risottos in between, it is likely that everyone will find a dish or two that takes their fancy. The starters list was delightful and comprised of a number of our favorite dishes. We kicked off with Szechuan peppered squid and wild mushrooms on toast, both rather simple dishes that did well to wet our appetites.
The mains were just as drool inspiring. We whittled down our choices to an 8oz sirloin steak, from a choice of three 28-day dry aged cuts, and organic Salmon on a bed of soft herb salad and salsa verde. Having been teased by the view of the talented chefs at work, we were very impressed with the presentation of the dishes when the arrived at our table. The Salmon looked sublime and the flavors did the delightful presentation justice. As with the salmon, the steak was cooked fantastically and satisfied our appetites adequately.
No meal would be complete without a delectable dessert to finish on a high. Once again, the choices had us deliberating for quite sometime. We opted for a chocolate pot and a blueberry and apple crumble. The crumble, complete with a generous scoop of ice-cream, had us bursting at the seams. The chocolate pot was very rich, a delight for dark chocolate fans.
With there being so many establishments around Canary Wharf and other areas close by, it is refreshing to visit a restaurant with a difference. The views, journey over the Thames and the wide variety of dishes on offer make Columbia a unique and very appealing establishment. We hope to return soon!