Bokan reaches parts other restaurants and bars in Canary Wharf do not. For the first time in recent memory there’s a serious venue at height close to the estate that truly exploits the main feature of buildings in the area, namely their vertical reach.
Sure, there’s The Attic at the top of Pan Peninsula. But its shiny, glam pseudo-club schtick is hardly a reasonable proposition for the majority of occasions, least of all a working lunch.
The three floors at the top of the Novotel are a different proposition altogether.
Clever comfort food, views and high-end drinks combine to make it an almost unqualified success and the place Canary Wharf workers need in their lives.
Traditionally nervous of venturing beyond the estate’s boundaries, this venue’s heady blend of vertigo and relaxed bistro decor ought to be enough to entice even the most introverted desk driver over the South Quay bridge to sup its delights on Marsh Wall.
But its laid back, convivial style is no coincidence. It’s resting on a foundation every bit as strong as the reinforced concrete core at the Novotel tower’s heart.
Executive chef Aurelie Altemaire, late of L’Atelier De Joel Robuchon, may talk of treating guests as friends, all smiles and warmth.
Her menu might be a comforting collection of favourites – steak tartare, burgers, steaks and burrata.
But the quality of delivery, presentation and flavour are exacting. Her dishes taste of perfectionist; each the final generation in a long evolution of tasting and refinement.
My fillet steak, for example, is an immense, tender pillow of flesh, served with what appears to be a combat knife for me to slice into it.
The pleasure of carving up the beast is nearly as rich as the potent reduction of a pepper sauce, slopped on top of it in generous quantity.
And with the best publicly available view near Canary Wharf as a backdrop, it’s the most enjoyable steak I’ve eaten in the area.
It’s £39 and the most expensive main, but so what?
How often do you get to let meat melt on your tongue with the sun setting over the City’s skyline?
Actually, with cocktails starting at £7.50, Bokan’s surprisingly reasonable for the real estate it occupies.
Around half the main courses are in the teens with a burger £15. Its interior is a tasteful blend of light industrial and warm, worn leathers. A triumph.
The only slight issue, which will be ironed out by time, is the service.
While Guilliame at my table is a well-drilled, careful blend of professional and laid-back, this is still a restaurant and bar finding its feet.
Bartenders on the top floor are slow in acknowledgement and drink delivery.
Downstairs there’s a whiff of confusion about where we’re going.
Confidence will grow. It’s still the hottest ticket in town and booking is recommended.
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