There are still little corners of London that aren’t quite as popular as they deserve to be and you can still find a quiet spot to yourself, away from crowds and hordes of people. St Katharine’s Docks, located right smack next to Tower Bridge and Tower of London is this little corner – or perhaps I should say it used to be, as slowly it’s going from a place you really needed to know about to a happening new spot, with new openings of exciting bars and restaurants every day whereas once it was just home to the chain.
One sunny day, when all of London wanted to sit outside, a group of girlfriends and I made our way over to this little slice of London and prepared to indulge in a good dose of girly gossip, with the side addition of what we hoped was some much lauded Bravas Tapas. All the outside tables were well and truly gone by the time we appeared and the greenhouse effect of the window seats was a little too stifling, so we opted to sit a little further in the back, where it was a tad cooler.
The menu is simply laid out, it offers variety but not so much that you can’t possibly decide. We’re not quite sure what level of hunger we’re at so we simply order up a few things and top up as and when we need, and wash it all down with a bottle of Cava, because when the girls get together, bubbles are an absolute must!
It’s best to get my complaints out of the way early so I can concentrate on what was really good, but the service really let the side down – and that was before the food even arrived! We arrived early for our reservation to an empty restaurant but were continually pressured to order, even with half the party not yet present. We kept having to firmly clutch the menu to keep them from taking it, even when they knew we wanted to order more. Items failed to arrive for over an hour, despite telling 3 different people we were waiting. And one of our servers didn’t actually know what some of the items on the menu actually were!
These flaws are easier to forgive in a group of girls who are chatting and catching up, so we let them slide but it was still pretty frustrating. A shame as the food I’m about to tell you about ranked pretty highly up there!
Each dish was lovelier than the last, each with their own unique flavour that bore no resemblance to anything else on the table. The meaty dishes were rich and dense – you could feel the flavours lingering on your tongue, full of sultry goodness. The seafood dishes had a light touch, the grilled octopus in particular was not overly breaded or heavy and had a garlicky flavour quite unique to any grilled dishes I’ve come across before.
My favourites must be singled out for praise though, the Malaguena salad of pineapple, fennel with a sherry vinaigrette dressing was so fresh and imaginative it was just what the doctor ordered on a hot and sunny day, but I must admit, I was alone in singing its praises and everyone else simply thought it was akin to eating a pineapple dessert. The Patatas Bravas surprised me, I rarely order this as I’m not a potato fan (Yes, this lack of potato love also extends to chips) but the whipped aioli and salsa combo that came on the side stole the show and made this little humble potato dish a winner. We ordered another and it was this that took over an hour to grace our table, but it was still worth the wait.
We contemplated leaving pre-dessert as the wait staff were getting a bit painful, but decided that was too much like cutting off our noses to spite our faces and also really we just wanted to keep chatting so we ordered one of each of the three options to share. Torta de Santiago, wrongly sold to me as ‘a sort of pie’, Macerated strawberries with white chocolate and a Caramelised brioche pudding with a side of passion fruit sorbet.
These didn’t wow like the mains before it had, but they were simply good enough. Or perhaps it was simply that we were getting a little bit cranky with the service, which despite the restaurant emptying showed no real signs of improvement. However credit where credit is due, not once did they pull out that much hated 2-hour table turning policy or even hint at it.
I’d like to give them another try as the food was really so special and any evening spent giggling with the girls makes it even more so, but I’d hope for an improved experience another time.