Walking over the bridge towards Canary Wharf’s West India Quay, a panorama of sunlit restaurant fronts surrounding us, even hassled buskers are in a good mood. A security guard is asking a wannabe Beatle to vacate the bridge and he replies, “Surely I’m covered by the law of the sea?” A maritime law joke has never got such a good response and although the guard still moves him on, it’s with hearty smile (in my head, it’s also with a, “And don’t call me Shirley.”)
Still chuckling, we arrive at Drake & Morgan’s new venture, The Sipping Room, which was initially named The Bothy when it first opened in May of this year, and boasts a large collection of al fresco orange moon-shaped seats that are clustered close enough together for us to overhear an amusing vignette told to a man by his sister, reminding him of the time that he wet himself during a theatre production in Sadler’s Wells. One would assume that this is an anecdote from his childhood but before we can eavesdrop over his friend’s laughter to confirm, the waiter arrives and takes our order for a couple of ice-cold pints of lager with which to toast the warm afternoon on what has to be one of London’s largest terraces.
Step inside of the Grade II listed wharf warehouse and you will find two floors filled with original features lovingly restored with dark timbers, flagstone flooring and structural beams. The contemporary furniture and soft caramel details echo Drake & Morgan’s unique style.
On the ground floor is a wood-clad bar with tall leather-topped bar stools neatly lined up along with low-set coffee tables. If you are looking for something a little more intimate, then the cosy curved cowhide booths will fit the bill.
The lower ground-floor offers a slightly more rustic dining experience, with its exposed brick walls, pale marble table tops and overhead beams in a nod to the building’s wharf heritage.
As you might expect from Drake & Morgan, the cocktail list is extensive with a wide curated collection and mix. The wine list is equally impressive, with wines from around the world and plenty available by the glass starting from under £5.
The Sipping Room is open seven days a week serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends with a menu that offers a sophisticated mix of small plates as well as larger mains such as their half roast chicken and wagyu burgers and steaks.
The sourdough bread is absolutely fantastic, the real star of the show; a large crusty cob with that just-baked feel, served with a simple accompaniment of balsamic vinegar and olive oil; along with some plump green olives, this is a fantastic way to start a long, (slightly) boozy lunch.
Our starters promptly arrive. The chicken satay skewers are soft and tender, flecked with sesame seeds and soaked in a satay sauce that gives off a subtle piquancy that keeps us coming back for more nibbles of the light starter whilst the fresh asparagus and poached egg topped with hollandaise sauce also hit the mark.
Having taken in bit more of the riverside surroundings and warm sunshine, our main courses duly arrive. The Chargrilled Tuna is the perfect dish for a summer’s day and sits on top of a salad of green papaya, cucumber, garlic croutons kissed with a gentle lime dressing.
In contrast, our other choice is a generous hunk of flat iron steak which is chargrilled to perfection, a chimichurri dressing not overpowering the flavour of the meat but melding with its pleasant tang. We substitute a tenderstem broccoli with almond slivers for the herbed chips (it’s beach body season, right?) and enjoy a healthy measure of Pinot Noir to wash down what is a truly excellent main course.
A raspberry sorbet is the ideal palate cleanser for a day that’s fast approaching what the Scots would call “Taps Aff” weather. And after washing it and a delicious Crème Brûlée down with an espresso, it’s time bid adieu to the helpful and attentive staff and make our way back to Canary Wharf station for the journey back into the West End.
Jumping forward a couple of months and having sadly said goodbye to those warm sunny days, The Sipping Room has a special decadent bottomless two-course Saturday Brunch for the autumn, as well as series of one-off free cocktail masterclasses and a more family-orientated Sunday fun-day to keep the kids amused whilst you enjoy Drake & Morgan’s signature Sunday roast.
That warm cosy warehouse interior with its animal furs will really come into its own during the colder days but those of you wanting to brave the outdoor terrace you can keep warm with their hot water bottles!
The Sipping Room, 16 Hertsmere Road, West India Quay, London, E14 4AX
Tel: +44 (0)20 3907 0320
The restaurant is located on West India Key in The Docklands and is a 9-minute walk from Canary Wharf Tube Station on the Jubilee Line. West India Quay and Poplar on the DLR are even closer. It is open Monday to Wednesday from 7:30am to 11:00pm; Thursday and Friday from 7:30am to 1:00am; Saturday from 9:00am to 1:00am and Sunday from 10:00am to 7:00pm.
Type of Restaurant: Riverside Bar & Restaurant
Price Band: Medium
We’d recommend opting for the terrace on a dry day and asking for a hot water bottle on a cooler day to keep you nice and warm whilst soaking up the surrounding riverside atmosphere.
Reviewers’ Rating: 8/10
Simon Burrell is Editor-in-Chief of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer. David Harfield is the director of PepperStorm Media and writes about his three passions: food, booze and travel.
Photographs courtesy of Drake & Morgan and by Simon Burrell