Canary Wharf is best known as the financial district of London, filled with some of the tallest buildings in the capital and major world headquarters like Barclays, Clifford Chance and Morgan Stanley. The area hasn’t been known in the past for its dining scene, but it is undergoing a bit of a renaissance that has started with Bōkan – London’s newest sky high restaurant, bar and rooftop terrace. Translated to “Beacon of Light,” Bōkan is the area’s answer to fantastic food, experimental drinks, and a stylish venue where you can eat, drink and dance the night away – all under one roof. It’s a destination venue that is well worth the travel.Based on the 37th, 38th and 39th floors of the new generation Novotel, Bōkan, in my opinion, boasts the very best views of the city. The restaurant is on level 37, the cocktail bar on the 38th and the stunning rooftop terrace takes over the 39th floor. You can see every single iconic landmark – the Shard, the London Eye, Olympic Village, the O2, the list goes on and on. This destination venue is exceptional for so many reasons – ideal for special occasions – which is why I knew it was the perfect place to take my older sister when she was visiting London a few weeks ago.
My older sister is luckily able to visit me in London quite often and it’s always a memorable occasion when she does. It makes me so happy to be able to see someone in my family more than once a year! Every time she travels to London, we have the best time – we eat at great restaurants, see a show in the West End and just enjoy each other’s company. As an expat, I really cherish these times I get to see my family and I always look so forward to having my sister in town every few months.
It was her last day in town and we decided to go fora a leisurely late lunch before she headed off to the airport. We jumped on the tube at Stockwell station- which is really just a hop, skip and a jump away. Travel time is about 20 minutes to Canary Wharf station and a quick 10 minute walk from there. As we arrived, we sky rocketed up into the express lift, ears popping and hearts jumping as we reached the 38th floor. The friendly hosted warmly greeted us and led us to our table right by the window. I have to note, there really isn’t a “best seat in the house,” as there is 360 degree panoramic views from anywhere you sit. Floor-to-glass ceiling cascades along the edges of the three-floor venue – providing nothing but stunning views.
Talented Head Chef, Aurélie Altemaire, is at the helm of the restaurant on the 37th floor. Originally from France, Aurélie enrolled at culinary school when she was just 15 years old and never looked back! She has a wealth of international experience and worked at Michelin-star restaurant, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon before coming on board at Bōkan. The menu is filled with modern European dishes with her own flair – think chicken stuffed with foie grass (which I had the pleasure of trying on a separate occasion and was divine), a beautifully presented roasted aubergine with courgettes and hummus and Rhug Estate Lamb cutlets to name a few.
No visit with my sister comes with a shortage of bubbles and we kicked off our lunch with a glass of Nye Timber English Sparkling Wine. A toast to friendship and family, we had a look over the impressive menu as I explained a bit more about the restaurant to my sister – who seemingly already loved the venue. We chit chatted away and ordered a few starters to nibble on before the main event. We also dove into this incredible freshly baked bread with salted butter that is quite simply addicting.
A delicate dish of Sea Bass Carpaccio, intricately drizzled with lime aioli and olive oil, sprinkled lightly with salt and pepper. This dish is light, but impressive, the ideal start to lunch.
A creamy, plump ball of Pugliese burrata sat upon a refreshing chilled red pepper coulis, topped with fresh basil and served with house-made focaccia on the side. What’s not to love about rich, creamy, and moreish burrata. The red pepper coulis elevates the cheese with a tangy flavour that closely resembles marinara sauce, but better – much better.
And for my sister – who eats a plethora of veggies daily – the Inka Roast Winter vegetable salad with endive and feta. It’s as if this dish was made for her – an elegantly presented plate of aubergine, sliced apple, lettuce, endive topped with fresh feta. A delicious and invigorating salad we all really enjoyed.
For mains, I absolutely LOVED the Soy-Glazed Scottish Salmon served with wasabi green bean salad and pepper sauce. This is a dish that I had the first time I went to Bōkan and I can’t speak highly enough about it – the salmon is tender, buttery and bursting with sweet soy flavours. A dish so good, I’ve tried to make it myself at home but haven’t quite mastered to make it taste as good yet.
Ciaran went for the Slow-Smoked Blythburgh Pork Belly topped with apple sauce and crushed potatoes. Smokey, tender and not overly sweet – he really enjoyed this dish would order it again if it’s on the menu when we go back!
My sister ordered the Oven-roasted aubergine, courgettes, hummus, padron peppers, tomato, coriander – a dish that she absolutely loved and devoured within minutes. A vibrant dish, she said it was one of her favourites of that weekend.
We ended our beautiful lunch on a sweet note and shared the chocolate/peanut butter soufflé. Gooey, sumptuous and sinfully decadent, this is my idea of dessert heaven. Served with a side of peanut butter ice cream – this was the best soufflé I’ve had.
As the sun began to set, we headed off so my sister could catch her flight but not before admiring the gorgeous sunset and all the buildings in London light up. A truly spectacular scene – I remember thinking how thankful I was in that moment and what a great weekend it had been. Our time at Bōkan was just the cherry on top.
If you love a view (what’s not to love), brilliant food and fantastic service – you should definitely put Bōkan on your bucket list. I know I’ll be hitting the terrace as soon as the weather heats up this summer! Stay tuned for a few more posts all about the 38th floor bar with some amazing cocktails and the 39th floor terrace…
Bōkan | 40 Marsh Wall | Canary Wharf | E14 9TP